We went out to the hives on Saturday to check on the girls. We noticed last weekend that hive 2 wasn’t nearly as strong as the other two, so we wanted to check for activity and see if we could find the queen, or some indication that she is laying.
We went about our normal procedure of suiting up, getting the smoker lit, and gathering the sugar water to feed to the bees. We opened hive one and pulled out each frame one by one. Hive one is very nice; gentle girls who don’t seem to mind us poking around. They’re also the busiest, building out the most frames the fastest and adding burr comb wherever they can fit it. We took pictures of every frame, each side, so that later we could enlarge the photos on our computer and search thoroughly for the queen. After putting the frames back, we filled their feeder with sugar water and closed up their hive.
We repeated the same process with hives two and three. Hive two is sad in comparison to 1 and 3…not building out nearly as fast, and we’re not seeing any larvae or capped brood, so we don’t think the queen is in there. More on that later. Both hives 2 and 3 had LOTS of burr comb, which we scraped off and put into a tupperware. We had to get that off in order to close the hives back up. There were still some bees on some of them, but we got off what we could and took a bit in the tupperware, leaving the rest next to the hive for the bees to clean up (they’ll take the honey from the comb and put it back into the hive…no sense letting that go to waste!).
Matt unsuited first; I had to fill up the water troughs, so I kept my jacket/veil on. As I was watering, I heard him yelling and saw him running. I dropped the hose and started running towards him…he had a guard bee chasing him down, banging him in the head. It’s almost funny (almost) to see such a large man running from such a small insect, but let me tell you, when one of these guard bees is determined to run you off, they WILL do it. They bang you in the head and claw into your hair and won’t let you get anywhere near the hive. As a last resort, they’ll sting you. I know, bc that happened to me the day we picked our bees up at the apiary. I ran towards Matt (not afraid bc I was still suited up) and started swatting at her with my glove. She eventually started banging me in the head so I told Matt to run and I’d go in the other direction. He got away unstung, thankfully; eventually she got bored with me and flew off.
The bees were pretty stirred up after our inspection and bc the extra comb/honey were outside the hives. They were busing bringing in new pollen and cleaning out the combs…plus I think we pissed them off just a little bit.
The next day, Matt was fixing up some screens in the bee storage shed. It’s about 25 feet from the hives, but he kept the door towards the hive closed. But, it didn’t take long for Bee-zilla to find him and start banging him in the head all over again. He ran back towards the house, and hearing him, I ran out with a newspaper to swat at her. Unfortunately this time, I wasn’t suited up and she switched from hitting him to hitting me. We took turns running around the yard like lunatics swatting at each other with newspapers and baseball hats trying to get her. Of course, our dog Thor thought this was a great game and joined right in, chasing us around barking and jumping at us. I can’t imagine what anyone driving past our property must have thought about us at that moment. We finally escaped into the RV and she got tired of waiting and went back to the hive. I can just hear her now, bragging to her girlfriends about how she chased off the two big humans with her little tiny wings.