While in my dreams I am with the rest of my profession at Spring Quilt Market in Salt Lake City this weekend, in reality I am here with hubby getting the beehives ready for spring. Last week I mentioned we took an observation hive of live bees to a local Earth Expo. Here's what an observation hive is all about: a vented wooden box with glass sides just large enough to fit a single frame of bees inside. Hubby selected a frame containing the queen, which was an added bonus as viewers enjoyed trying to spot her. It isn't always easy to do.
On the top of the box is a a spot where a mason jar of sugar syrup may be inverted, to provide food for the bees. In this case, hubby chose a frame which contained honey so the feeder was not necessary. The mesh over the hole also allows air to get in...but prevents the bees from getting out.
Here we are returning the bees to their hive after the Expo. You can see a puff of smoke wafting up through the top vent.
There are also mesh-covered side vents, and these were used to smoke the bees. The smoke is said to calm them, but I'd have to say it makes them stick close to their hive and queen and less apt to fly out or attack.
After smoking, hubby lifts the lid of the observation hive. It is cleverly secured by strips of velcro which make for a tight seal and easy removal. What did we do before velcro!
Yes, bare hands and no, he did not get stung. The frame was successfully replaced in the main hive. We expect those bees had spent the day wondering where their queen had gone.
The weather has warmed a bit and there are lots of flowers around, so it was time to unwrap and remove all the winter insulation from the hives.
It's a big job...worse than wrapping them for the winter as all the boxes are unwrapped, opened up, cleaned out, frames scraped and replaced, etc., etc.
Fortunately, the hives are looking very healthy and have wintered well. The bees in this hive had been busy building burr comb on the bottom of a frame.
We saw lots of eggs and larvae (below); good signs.
In a few short weeks, the blueberries will be in blossom and we will begin the arduous task of moving the hives. A beekeeper's work is never done...