Here are some of the girls getting their bearings.
So it’s been a number of weeks, and what seems like an unending day at an amusement park, since my last update. When we last left you, we had just cleaned up the collapsed comb mess and I had received my second sting. That was May 26th.
After that Saturday, I was very concerned with the girls. The following Saturday, June 2nd, we had a freakish cold snap. It was 46 degrees that morning, and every last girl was completely within the hive. However, surprisingly that day, there was a large amount of pollen being brought in after the air started to warm. My decision was to not disturb them that weekend. Again on Sunday, there was a good amount of pollen being brought in. The day was WARM, 92 degrees, and I noticed that the girls had found the pond. It was so interesting to stand at the pond’s edge and watch the bees as they left, flying either to the back of the yard (our hive) or over the fence (to the Ferals)! Another interesting fact, my girls are not great fliers when they take off from the pond. They circle around a bit, like they are gaining altitude and then head back to the hive. The Ferals, however, just take off and right up and over the fence. They are probably older and wiser, or maybe they’re just older and stronger!
Monday and Tuesday (June 4th and 5th) were rainy and dreary. But I could have SWORN on Tuesday afternoon I saw a different queen through the window. She looked HUGE. But I’m not sure. So many of my girls have VERY long abdomens. I definitely am NOT good at spotting the queen. Where it not for the dot on Vicky’s back, I would most likely never find her. Unless maybe I have a hive full of queens running around (kidding).
Thursday morning was a nightmare. The prior night had been quite cool, 54 degrees. When I went to look at the hive, to my shock and dismay, there were over 15 dead or dying girls on the ground. It was like something out of a bad horror movie! Some of them had their wings straight out to their sides. It was all very weird and very alarming. I swore up and down the entire day that something was wrong and they had succumbed to some disease, like tracheal mites. I was nauseous all day; however, the following morning there were only 3 dead/dying girls. Maybe it was just the cold, I told myself.
But on Friday (June 8th), there seemed to be a significantly greater number of bees in the hive when I peeked in the window during the afternoon. Did babies hatch? They also seemed to be chaining a bit more within the hive. I crossed my fingers in hopes that they will get back on track with their comb building. Apart from replacing the collapsed comb at Top Bar #5, they really haven’t built any new comb.
Saturday, June 9th, and there were only 2 – 3 dead / dying girls, even though the previous night was almost as cold as the night before. I decided to not enter the hive again this weekend as I had to work on Saturday anyways. When I got home and check on the hive about 3:30pm, my initial reaction was fear, as there was a loud buzz hum in the air and LOTS of bees around the hive. But when I took and breath and investigated further, I found out they were all having “orientation flights”!
YEAH! That’s good news. It was quite spectacular to stand at the side of the hive and see all the girls just hovering in the air facing the hive. This went on for quite some time. When I finally decided to go get my phone to take some pictures, it was basically over; however, I did manage to catch a few of the new girls.
Sunday morning was the first morning in a while where there were no dead bees outside the hive. I’m hoping a corner has been turned. Although it was somewhat rainy, the girls where bringing in copious amounts of pollen. And I finally found one of my girls on our cat mint. When the cat mint initially bloomed, probably in late March or early April, the Ferals were all over it. That all you could see was Feral girls. It was fascinating. However, lately only the Bumbles are on it. No more Honeys, which seems strange. But I did see one Honey on the cat mint on Sunday and watch her intently until she left. And sure enough up she went and to the back of the yard. I hope she does the wiggle dance and tells her sisters the location. Still no new comb.
Monday morning, June 11th, no dead bees, no new comb, but chaining. Come on girls. You need to build comb. I wonder if I go in and insert a empty TB between the last piece of comb if that would persuade them to build again.
Tuesday and Wednesday – I’ve noticed a few Small Hive Beetles (“SHB”) in the hive. The girls have corralled them and forced them into the tiny space created by the false back. There are girls on both side of the false back and they keep guard. If one of the SHBs leaves the crack, it gets pounced on by the girls. Sometimes the SHB makes it back to the crack. Other times, the girls attack and chase it. I think I may need to open the hive this weekend, if only to kill the few SHBs that are present.
Still no new comb. I believe they must have built out to TB #9. But they have 3 more TBs before they even reach the Honey Top Bars. Then they have about 12 HTBs. If they don’t start building comb soon, I doubt they will last the winter as they will have no honey stores. I doubt they will make it if they are forced to survive only on sugar syrup all winter long. It’s sad, but I am trying to let nature take its natural course.