The perfect time to disturb a colony of bees is when most of them are away from home. A perfectly still, hot day when the sun is at the meridian and the air is full of pollen means that every field bee will be out foraging, stopping home only to unload and taking off again like B17s in the African theater. Yesterday was not that day. The Maine spring can be cool – it was 60 degrees with a brisk wind blowing the apple blossoms apart on the Russian crab and making my full English bee suit comfortable, instead of stifling. However, a beekeeper with a day job will work with whatever weather happens on her day off (short of drenching rain), and be thankful. *
This hive was new from a package three weeks ago. When I dumped them in they persisted in a forming a bulge above the frames. Since they had obliged me by exiting their box at all, I gave them a spacer when I put the hivetop feeder above them. I had hoped to deconstruct the whole arrangement before they built comb to connect the frames to the feeder, but no such luck. They have been busy, busy bees. I finally had to cut away quite a bit of comb (full of fruit blossom honey, poor beekeeper!) and carefully settle the new super on top. I wore the full suit because this colony is new to me and I was going to be elbows deep in their territory, but I didn’t need it. They traveled calmly over my hands, and went about their business with only a very casual fly-over from the guard bees.
There were plenty of eggs in the newly filled frames, and a wealth of pollen stored up in rainbow colors. Now I hope they continue the good work in their new second story – May is halfway done and winter’s coming!
* I feel I should mention that I’ve heard British beekeepers work on their hives at night, while the bees are asleep. Do bees sleep? Does this technique work? I can’t find much about this on line and it has the feel of fable, somehow. . .