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Bee Adventures - Part 4

July 10, 2020 

Forecast of rain and clouds for the next few days, still within very high temperatures. The feeder still has lots of liquid, but I added some fresh syrup. The flower beds are still growing and Mother Nature is taking her time with the surroundings... I wonder where they get the pollen and nectar from... Bees will prefer foraging on trees than flowers, I’ve read. They must find what they need, invisible to our scent and view.

The humidity and condensation signs have faded away from the hive covers.

More burr comb on the top of the frames and inside the inner cover. The black frame is filling in nicely with new honey. There are more and more bees. I was stunned to see two of the original frames stuck together; called cross comb. When I lifted the left side of one frame, the other one lifted with it and to my dismay, the comb broke. Approximately two square inches of honey flowed out and slowly dripped to the bottom. All this in a fraction of a second, because as soon as I noticed what was happening, my brain said “Oh! Nooooo!” and I put the frames back down. The bees loved me and hated me in that moment. The available honey is a real treat for them, but also means they have to work hard to repair the damage I’ve done.

A Glimspe of The Honey Making Process:

When the worker returns to the hive with the nectar she has foraged, there will be a younger worker bee waiting. This waiting bee is often referred to as a house bee. Her job is to suck the nectar out of the honey stomach of the forager. Either way, the process is pretty intense!

Once the nectar has been transferred, the house bee will chew it for about 30 minutes. While chewing, she adds enzymes to the nectar to break it down, forming a simple syrup. The enzymes also reduce the water content in the nectar. This makes it easier to digest and less likely to be plagued by bacteria while stored inside the hive.

Spreading the Syrup

Once this process is complete, the worker will distribute the resultant syrup over the comb of the hive. This is accomplished by spitting up the nectar that she chewed for the past half hour. She will deposit this inside a cell in the honeycomb. Then she spreads the tops out to maximize the surface area, so that water can continue to evaporate from the honey syrup and make it thicker over time. Additionally, bees help reduce the water content by fanning the honey with their wings.

Capping the Honey

Once the honey is to the right consistency and the water content at the right level, a bee will cap it with beeswax, ready for later consumption. The capping process is rather intense too. Bees will excrete a substance from their abdomen to cap the honey. This comes from wax glands on their abdomen. The glands push out sheets of this substance, made up of scales, which dry to form beeswax.

Now, possible reasons for the burr and cross comb are: the hive not being level (Fixed that) or too much space. Now, if you’ve ever seen the inside of a hive, it’s difficult to believe there’s any room at all to move in there, but from a bee viewpoint, any space less than 1/4 inch needs to be sealed and filled with propolis. A space between 3/8 inch and 1/4 inch is in a range of acceptable bee space, to build comb, with 5/16 inch being an acceptable average for a bee keeper. If there is any available space beyond that, comb is built. So.... I can understand the available space above the frames... but in between means my frames are not close enough together. I really need to find a solution on how toseperate the two stuck frames... If the frames are stuck together, no significant problem for the bees, but to harvest the honey it might cause a problem. And, if there’s too muchspace,it’s not “normal”.

Remember I was writing about the first day? Getting the bees and the hive at the same time? Mistake number 3. Get the hive BEFORE your bees, put the frame’s tongue and grooves together with a nut of wood glue, stain it the color you want, let it dry, THEN put your bees inside their new home. 

The corners of mine open and close depending on the humidity level. Dry, sunny and hot = gaps in the corners. Humid and rainy = Closed tighly together. So, Watson, that might be a very good reason for the cross comb. 

I saw a bee on the landing dock whose wings were buzzing so fast, so evenly, it was a miracle she wasn’t flying off and up like a dual engine turbo helicopter. I searched the web for any explanation and only found that it is a form of communication: some bees will make a very lound sound for other disoriented younger bees to hear and find their way back. Hum.

I added vegetable oil on the varroa board so if any fall or are shaken off bees, they will stick to the surface for easier identification. Pretty cool tactic.  

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