If the bees had a neon sign like at Krispy Kreme, it would be on right now. The first super is well on it’s way and by gosh it’s only been a week and they’re already making great progress on that new super I put on last Saturday. I’m so proud of them. Do you know how they build the wax comb? It’s totally fascinating. When they’re 12 to 18 days old, honeybees have well-developed wax glands in their abdomen. They convert nectar to wax and secrete tiny, thin sheets of wax from in between segments of their exoskeleton on their belly. Once when the little nuc had the entrance feeder on it I spotted a worker with nice thick sheets of wax fanning out from her undercarriage. It would be really hard for me to get a picture of this but apparently someone has done it!
(image credit: honeyflowfarm.com)
Anyways, they use the little tibial spine on their middle leg to grab a sheet and then they chew it and shape it in their mandibles and then place it on the comb just perfectly so. I have been told for every frame of comb drawn that is worth the energy and nectar which could have been made into about 6 lbs of honey. They know just where to put it and how big to make the cells depending on if they need drone, workers, or queens. They build it perfectly uniformly. THAT is cray-cray.
My alternate title for this post was going to be ‘Beautiful Secretions’ but I think I’ll save that it for another day.
TODAY’S INSPECTION AUDIO (6.17.12)
We put a totally empty super on last week – we’re going to see if they’ve touched it yet and how much progress has been made on the older one.
We’ve got some ants on top of the inner cover. So I need to set out some more Terro stations.
The outside edges of the top super (the older one) are still not drawn but everything else is. Doesn’t look like it’s capped yet. Maybe we’ll pull a couple frames to look at.
Yeah, F1 on the outside’s only like halfway drawn. No honey stored in it at all.
F2 has honey on both sides.
Let’s skip a few… F5 still has some brood in it. On both sides. Oh that’s weird there’s like a whole straight line of brood missing.
Looks like F6 still has brood as well. Lots of drone brood, still not totally full of honey. Actually F7 has brood in it too (I think I’m looking down in from the top without pulling it) – I don’t remember seeing that many eggs last time but they must have been there (since I have a queen excluder on).
Oh YAY they’re drawing out the comb on the new super (started with wax foundation)! GOOD GIRLS!
(now I pause to snap a few pics of the lovely fresh comb – such a thing of beauty)
Pulling the queen excluder off. Starting with F10 on the west side of the hive. The side facing out seems to be too shallow for them to use for brood so. Not sure what they’ll do with it. The other side is capped honey.
F9 is entirely capped honey. Both sides.
From the top F8 looks like capped honey so I’m going to skip it.
F7 is young larva. Some eggs around the outside. On the other side they’re a little bit older. I see an emerging bee, a drone. Uh oh a supercedure cell – wide open – royal jelly at bottom. That is definitely concerning. And weird.
F6 is a really nice brood pattern. A few queen cups that have never been used. Drone cells at bottom. Both sides are a nice, capped frame of brood.
F5 (this is the one with the Beetle Blaster stuck to it) – nice capped brood, some pollen stored up, OOPS I just poured out the Beetle Blaster! There’s definitely some beetles in there. Uhm, other side capped brood, about half, with pollen all around. Sorry ladies you’ll have to clean up that vegetable oil…
I skipped F4.
F3 is eggs. I’m standing on the east side of the hive now and the frame facing me is mostly empty cells and eggs, and the side facing away from me is like half capped half eggs.
F2 are mostly empty or eggs but I can’t actually see the eggs because this comb is so dark. I think it might just be empty. Another queen cup. Well I see some eggs on here. F2 facing me has eggs, facing away I can’t really tell…
I removed the Beetle Blaster so I can look at F4. Capped brood in the middle, younger around it, few eggs around the edge. Same thing on the other side – plenty of eggs.
I accidentally dumped a bunch of pollen on the ground. I feel bad about that. F1 is mostly honey and I’m just gonna leave it because it’s about to break a chunk off that’s attached to the wall which will make a huge mess.