Since our bees swarmed in August, we've been watching outside and inside the hive for the signs of the health of the hive. We got our first package this spring and have spent the summer in awe of this busy, thriving community of thousands (yes- thousands) of bees, yet we still have a lot to learn about what is 'normal' behavior. There are significantly less bees at the entrance these days than before the swarm, but this is to be expected with 60% of the hive taking off, and it has been much cooler out as well. Still, the bees that are returning are heavily laden with pollen, and there seems to be many, many frames of honey.
Going into the hive is always an event at our home. Hadley and Finley help gather bits for the smoker, Freja picks ground cherries from the bush nearby, and I usually get right in there with the camera - usually too close without any gear on, but I've only been stung once, so I'm going to keep getting in there.
We were worried after the swarm that there was no queen in the hive. On our first visit into the hive we couldn't find a queen, actually we are pretty lousy at finding the queen, so this wasn't too alarming, what was more alarming was that we didn't see any new larvae. This time after we broke through the propolis (the sticky stuff in the hive, the glue in one of the photos below) the hive seemed busy and we definitely saw some larvae cells - yeah!
As we move through our day from riding bikes to visiting the goats to pulling weeds we are highly sensitive to the activity of the buzzing community. It is always exciting to see our bees amid the bumblebees, yellow jackets, and other scavengers in the flowers, or watch the 'flight school' on warm sunny days when the new bees practice their figure eights above the hive. Still, the fact that those bees are busy all the time (like right now as I'm writing this) and they're doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, is pretty spectacular.
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