As always a hive visit is never just a standard, straight forward inspection.  It is often filled with mystery, anxiety, confusion and wonder – and yesterday did not disappoint.

Something was amiss in the royal hierarchy of Sally – I can guarantee my original queen is no longer – whether she was succeeded by the newly reared queen from Mavis many weeks back, or there was yet another mutiny, one will never know .  BUT there was a ‘changing of the guard’ shall we say – as evident by an extremely productive work force – but limited if any –  new brood.

I know the queen slows as the summer days wane – but it was certainly alarming to not see any larvae or little eggs.  There is an insane abundance of honey – all of which I’ll leave for the hive to winter over – but – to not see eggs?!?

can you spot the queen

Observing in the field is no easy task.  Burdened with long-sleeved clothes and heavy protective gear (unbearable on hot days), battling the foliage around (in my case thorny rosa rugosa), and hoping not to get stung (which I always do – right under my right arm – without fail – they LOVE that spot) – I tend to sometimes overlook the obvious.  I took a bunch of photos in the middle of my meddling and it was only this morning that I noticed… hmm… what is that?  Is that an unmarked queen?  It is!

capped honey

here she is!

That could mean a few things 1) she has just returned from mating, 2) she’s just hanging with the girls and not really laying right now; or 3) I have no idea.  But in any case – I am way more hopeful I will have eggs by next week’s visit.

I also modified the hive a bit – consolidating from four hive bodies to three.  When I first combined the hives there were a few empty frames (frameless) that I was expecting the bees to build on.  But over the last six weeks they didn’t – so I removed 10 frames scattered throughout all the hive bodies (boxes) – and it’s fantastic – it’s so much easier to manage!

One of the frames I took was partially built with a small amount of honey –oh,  what a treat!  It wasn’t capped – so it wasn’t fully developed/aged –and its very light – but from a small chunk of comb I managed to fill a small jam jar – and it’s delicious!   I’ve heard many beekeepers refer to sun caught in a jar – and now I truly know what that means –

liquid sun

the comb from where the sun came

I will be out again next Saturday – probably at the same time (2P)– as it was nice to not have the older ladies (the foragers and more wiser of the bunch) defending their hive – they certainly were less aggressive (or defensive if you prefer) – than in past visits!   You are always welcome!  Sadie and I were excited to see Mary and a new friend at the garden – curiously watching (at a distance!) –

And- again – I am plugging Queen of the Sun – I just got the dvd and rights – so it’s a definite!  Friday, 8/17, 8:30P at the garden!  Various list-servs and friends will also be posting event details (i.e. Urban Homesteaders, The Boston Beekeepers and Follow the Honey in Cambridge)