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Bee street party

With the bees having swarmed and having enjoyed a general fly-about in the garden, I suited up for an inspection of Holly just to make sure things were well. The girls had other ideas. Of course they did.

A bee street-party

Suited up, I walked up the garden ready to inspect Holly. While we knew that she had recently swarmed, and   we wouldn’t yet be queen-right (a successfully mated and laying queen) we had discussed agreed (between ourselves – not with the bees) that we would check for  disease. We’re OK at checking for disease and pests, but we know that we should be better. Once a colony starts to weaken, its ability to defend itself is diminished, so we wanted to keep on top of things. Confidently striding up the garden I mentally ran through the process:
  1. Light the smoker
  2. Zip up suit
  3. Crack hive
  4. Remove supers (minding my back)
  5. Inspect brood box – focussed on varroa and wax moth, but checking for Foul Brood and others
  6. Quick glance through supers
  7. Reassemble the hive
Simples. As I rounded the corner, it was immediately apparent that I could skip steps 1-7.
Holly bearded with bees

Breakfast and a show

Here we go again. I photographed the hive, and wandered back to the house to show Jen the picture. “Oh for ducks lake. Really?” “Yep – really”. I zipped up my suit, grabbed a chair, and made myself comfortable in the apiary – figuring and hoping that this was a carbon copy of Monday’s shenanigans, and this was a street-party for our recently mated Holly queen.

I sat and watched, captivated, as a mini dram unfolded on the landing board. It appeared that a bee from another hive had arrived on the Holly landing board, and was being made to feel less than welcome.


Less than 40 minutes later, having watched in wonderment at the way in which the bees fanned, fought, and filed inside, the hive was going about its day as though nothing had happened. Amazing.
Holly hive clear of beard

School days

Without checking our diary, we know that it’s exactly a year to the day that we got our first two nucs of bees, and as a result we’re philosophical as to what we should expect of ourselves in terms of knowledge.

This week further validates our decision to have two hives – for the purpose of comparison and learning. Rather than going into something of a flat spin today, I was able to say “Ah, yes, mated queen returning”, and then enjoy the experience of having such a phenomenally sophisticated structure as a bee colony in our care. I’ve chosen that phrase carefully. While we paid for them, and look after them, we don’t control them – we simply care for them, and hope to influence them enough that they hang around.

Every day’s a school day in the apiary.