Although Sir James is undeniably brave and valiant when it comes to vanquishing Small Hive Dragons and other such matters, be it known throughout the land that Sir James is a very, very, Very, Very, let’s say it again, VERY, very, one more time for good measure, Very, BAD Scribe.
It has been far too long since the last Royal update, and much has happened! So let’s begin.
When last we left, it was the start of July, and our suspicions of a new Regant had been confirmed. We were also in the midst of a Honey Girls “No Comb Building” Strike !
On Sunday July 22nd, I re-entered the Kingdom to see how QV2 was fairing. I would venture to say that her reign is mediocre at best. She is laying; however, her laying pattern is somewhat spotty. I noted both capped and uncapped brood.
I put on my Cecil B. DeMille hat, as I believe I faintly heard “I’m ready for my close up”. Here she is! Can you find her? She is the spitting image of what a Queen should look like.
I’ve been at my wits end regarding the Girls’ “No Comb Building” Strike. Granted, it has been a very hot, dry almost drought-like summer here in Nashville; however, I keep feeling like for some reason something wasn’t right. I was feeling almost like the Girls thought they were at the end of the hive for some reason. Even though they still had enormous amounts of space. There were still at least 3 empty Top Bars (“TBs”) and then 4 Honey Top Bars (“HTBs”). The False Back is still in position as well and there are additional HTBs behind the False Back. HTBs are merely regular TBs separated by small spacer bars.
Bees like to build combs at different widths to accommodate the use of the comb. The regular TB has a 1 ⅜” width. The spacers add ¼”, resulting in 1 ⅝”. The Girls prefer to build brood comb with the 1 ⅜” width and honey comb with the 1 ⅝” width. Apparently this allows them the correct spacing they want because they will build the honey comb thicker than the brood comb.
I had been mulling over a thought in my head for weeks. When the comb collapse tragedy happened back in the middle of May, the Girls quickly rebuilt the comb on the empty bar that I had erroneously left. What if I put an empty TB in front of the TB where they were storing their honey? Would that persuade them to build new comb? I decided to put an empty TB on position #1 and another empty TB right in front of their honey comb. So the pattern in the hive was now as follows:
TB#1 — empty
TB#2 — pollen comb
TB#3 — brood comb
TB#4 — brood comb
TB#5 — brood comb
TB#6 — brood comb
TB#7 — brood comb
TB#8 — empty
TB#9 — honey comb
TB#10 — small comb (2 little pieces)
Well the Bee Goddess must have been smiling on the kingdom, because the following week, there was a beautiful new piece of snow white comb built on TB#8 ! Huzzah, Huzzah !
So that basically brings us up to last weekend. When I again went into the Kingdom to slay Small Hive Dragons (small hive beetles). Nasty little creatures, but the Girls do a pretty good job of quarantining them into the back of the hive and propolizing the cracks so they can’t get back through. But there were A LOT now, probably 8-10 (in actuality, that isn’t a lot, but I don’t like looking at them when I looking into the hive), so I wanted to try and get rid of some of them. I opened the hive and squished as many as I could.
I did a very brief inspection. I checked on TB#1 and it was still empty. I did not look for the Queen this time, but briefly looked at the laying patterns on the pieces I checked. It was basically still the same. Spotty capped brood. Not a Drone in sight.
The Girls had already started storing some pollen and honey in the new piece of comb. There were no spacers between any of these TBs and I worried that they might attempt to cross-comb the honey comb, so I moved some of the spacers around to give them the extra width on the honey comb pieces. I also moved the last TB with the small pieces of comb, which by the way they had now connected (TB#10 above) to be in front of the new piece, TB#8, hoping they would also expand this piece and put honey in it.
If the Girls can at least get that done, they would have 3 combs of honey. That would make me feel more comfortable going into fall. Everything I’ve read says they need about 7 combs of honey for the winter. I’m not sure if they will get there or not. If they don’t, I hope they will survive.
I want to try and buy another False Back in an attempt to devise a system to feed the Girls from within the hive, but I’ve been emailing the people I bought the hive from for two weeks now and I haven’t received a return message yet. I swear the only time they have communicated with me was when I was buying something. Sort of pisses me off.
I’ve read that honey production this year has been very negatively impacted by the severe drought and that everyone should be diligent in feeding their Girls. I’ve been feeding them typically once a week with 1:1 syrup. They typically take it very quickly, but the last time I tried giving it to the Girls, it took them over an hour to show interest. I did not feed them last weekend as we’ve had some good rain. However, I’ll continue to watch and feed as necessary.
One thing I find odd, we have a very LARGE rosemary plant and when it first bloomed in the early, early spring, it was covered with Feral Girls. However, it recently re-bloomed but no one visits it. Not my Girls or the Ferals. Maybe there isn’t any nectar in it, but that would surprise me since it gets regular watering from the irrigation system. All the Girls, mine and the Ferals, still spend a lot of their time getting water from the pond. I’ve noticed a little foraging on these little blue-ish/purple flowers that basically grow like some sort of grass weed, but apart from that, I’m clueless as to where they do the majority of their foraging.
Here is one of my Girls foraging on one of the bushes in the yard.
I will probably wait a few more weeks before I enter the Kingdom again. I’ll just observe through the window. Hopefully September and October will remain warm enough for the Girls to be out and about. And then I’ll have to button the girls up for winter and cross my fingers.