Summer Waxing Summer Moon
Mark and Elise came over today. We wandered through the garden and the orchard, followed by Rigel and Vega. They licked and pressed and jumped. New people! New people! Oh, boy! Oh, boy! New people! Rigel and Vega found Leif and Tate and Tate’s twin really, really interesting. Baby head! Baby head! Oh, boy! Oh, boy!
Mark and I went out to the hive and popped the lid after suiting up. The smoker worked better today, but I’ve still not got it down. There are a lot of bees. I thought so, but Mark confirmed it. There are lots of brood, plenty of honey and a few uninhabited queen cells. We scraped and checked each of the 20 frames, leaving two frames out to insert into the new box we put on top. The hive is now three boxes high, its maximum.
Next week or so, the honey supers go on the third box. About half the size of a hive box the supers fill up with honey. They are the work product that goes into the centrifuge for extraction. A typical super has about 30 pounds of honey. Seems like a lot to me.
Mark finds the bees fascinating per se, the honey a bonus that sometimes pays for the bees and the equipment in a given year. I agree. The hive construction project alone interests me. The six sided cells, the propolis, drone, worker and queen cells, the making of honey and its storage reveal a life way and a life form unlike any we contact in the usual day to day. There is more, too: the queen and her squadron of drones, hopeful suitors, all but one of whom will live and die unfulfilled, the solitary life of the queen, moving from cell to cell squeezing out egg after fertilized egg, the workers who build the cells and scout out food, coming back to communicate in a well known complicated dance.
Many bee keepers work without suits and gloves. Honey bees that survive our winters have a docile temperament and are not as defensive as the ordinary person would imagine, though Mark says they get more protective in the fall when the beekeeper begins to take the honey. This might seem a bit cruel, but in fact the bulk of the honey, say 80-90 pounds, remains in the hive boxes and has enough nourishment for the hives to over winter.