With the heat coming on fast and early we decided it was a good idea to check on the bees this morning. Despite the today’s heat the bottom is going to drop out temperature wise starting tomorrow with a rainy front coming in. And our schedule won’t allow for checking our furry friends for at least a week if we didn’t do it today. So we dawned our bee suits, grabbed our gear and headed through the garden to the north meadow.
The biggest question mark going into today’s exam was whether or not our girls were doing anything with the medium super that has been on the hive for quite some time now. Just two weeks ago all the frames in the only super were bare, with few bees even wandering about. All the frames and the super were sealed up with propolis, but no honeycomb. As I removed the outer and inner covers I could tell right away things were significantly different this week. I could visibly see honeycomb on several frames, in some instances spanning erroneously from one frame to the next, but present no less. As Christine pulled the medium-sized frames we gleefully discovered that in the course of two weeks our bees went from empty frames to about nine frames full of honey in the super. Simply amazing.
All of our fields are alight in the goldenrod bloom as well as the tiny white flowers of that dragon like weed I was clearing out last week. In addition to that the clover is still in its ever-present bloom as well. Our bees have got it really, really good folks. They don’t have to go far to collect pollen. From last to (yet to come) first frost this year our yard is a kaleidoscope of blooming flowers of every variety. I’m not sure what the garden of Eden looks like but I suspect our little hollow tucked out-of-the-way, just a stone’s throw from the crooked river, is every bit as beautiful in September. As Summer wears itself out with hot afternoons and puffy white clouds, Autumn gets a jump on things, painting the yard aglow in green, yellow, and red; speckling it with dreamlike white dots of daisies and queen anne’s lace. Perennials shaped like fireworks dance in air so warm that it feels like you can grab a handful and put it in your pocket.
As Christine examined the taller super we could see our queen has been busy. Every stage of pupae could be seen, from a grain of rice up to baby bees emerging from their cells. We witnessed the birth of at least three during our visit. Doing a full inspection today, Christine left me in charge to carry on looking at frames while she ran back to the house to get toothpicks. We use the toothpicks to pull drones out of their cells as they are developing. It kills the drone but allows us to check for mites. Well for me, being in charge made me kind of nervous. Nervous like when I first held our box of bees on delivery day so many months ago. Checking the frames isn’t my gig. I stand there, take pictures, scrape comb and propolis to satisfy my OCD issues, and look for the queen. By the way Christine saw the queen first today. Anyway, checking frames isn’t what I was trained to do. But never the less there I stood all alone with our 12,000 girls. I pried a frame out just like our resident beekeeper does…I was trying to recall how she did it without squashing bees. Then I lifted out a deep frame. It was incredible – it must have weighed ten pounds, fully laden with honey for the bees’ Winter. Then another heavy frame. How does that tiny mother of my children lift these things? After a few frames I settled in a bit but was still uneasy. This isn’t my gig. I take pictures. I don’t know what eggs look like. Thankfully she came back in the nick of time to take back over. We never did see any more drone cells in the lower deep so we didn’t check for mites. All the bees we did visit with looked happy and healthy so I think we’re okay for now.
With the upper super being full of honey, even though it’s not capped yet, we added the last medium super of the year up top. I would think that even with the cooler weather, that the bees might actually be able to make some headway into this fresh super and we might actually get to pull a jar of honey this year. Our fellow bee keepers will frown on our plans, but I say the bees have more than the 60 lbs. of honey they need for the winter. Besides we’re not taking everything from the upper supers, just a few frames to fill one jar for our honey tasting party (which is still to be planned).
Packing everything up we left our bees to continue their Autumn preparation. While still donning my bee suit I cut the meadow leading to and around the hive. That may be the last time for the year I hope. Maybe one more time.
We also took advantage of the nice day to stain the front porch, which looks very warm and welcoming now.
Lastly it’s September 11th, so in remembrance of that horrible day in our collective history, I wanted to share some photos of the Flight 93 Memorial we visited back in April of this year, during our return trip from visiting family in Virginia. We enjoy visiting national parks, and get a stamp in our “passport” at every one we go to. It was a somber visit to southwestern Pennsylvania, and not just because of the cold overcast Spring sky above. When the events unfolded on September 11, 2001 we were safe and sound back here in Ohio, so I don’t have any remarkable story to share. Having lived through the events though via my television it was emotional no less to see the memorial surrounding the site where a remarkable event took place. The memorial isn’t complete, or at least they still have to build a visitor center, but that doesn’t really matter. It easy to reflect and transport yourself to that awful day, to imagine what happened there and in the air above. You actually drive quite a ways, and then walk on foot a long distance too. A lot of time for reflection…imagining. These were real people like you and me who had people that they loved and loved them. People who worked, played and loved. Maybe one of them even liked bees like we do. And they probably had some pretty ordinary things on their minds before heroism asked them to be extraordinary.
If you get a chance to visit, please do. It’s a peaceful, beautiful place that makes you appreciate all that you have and all that you have left to experience. God bless.