Poetry of the Hive

There’s a bewitching hour at my hives. It’s the hour when the youngest bees have their little orientation party (they’re 3-4 days old when they do this…and they orient at this hour for several days in a row), and it’s also the hour when the drones fly out to their congregation area. At my hives, these two things occur sometime between 3:15 and 4:30 PM and it last for 20-45 minutes.

Many days you’ll catch me just standing in the yard watching this flurry—I just stand there. Or I go stand right next to the hive to see it better. It’s a completely mesmerizing scene, and I never tire of it. For some reason it reminds me of kittens or puppies playing.

And I usually stand watching just as I’ve come home from work…before I even get into the house. Which is exactly what I think is going on at the hives, too…work has wound down for the day, the kids head out to play in the yard for a while after finishing their chores, the guys go off to hang out together and talk about guy things, and the workers all over the hives are saying, “Ahhh. A few minutes of alone time here before they all come back in and sit on the porch.”

I think I love it because it’s so rhythmic. The entire hive cycle is rhythmic. And the sight of all those young bees orienting is a sure sign that things are good in the colony.

Jerod Visits the Bees

Jerod is the first person other than me to work in my hives. He’s also the first person to visit the bees who wants to keep a hive himself…and I trust the way Jerod works, so there you go. In anticipation of getting his first hives next spring, he’s been reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, and he wanted to see into a living hive so he could identify what he’s reading about.

So, he suited up, lit the smoker, kept the smoker smoking, smoked the hives, lifted the lids, removed the frames, and inspected the bees. I didn’t touch a thing. (He also helped me rake a mound of sugar from under each of the hives…I can’t tell if the sugar is slipping out of each hive or if the bees are removing it intentionally, but the yellow jackets were going bonkers in it. Damn yellow jackets).

Before we began, I asked Jerod what he was looking forward to as he got his first glimpse into a bee hive. He said he was curious to know what it feels like to be stung, and he was curious to see if he got a little squirrely when he saw that many bees in one place. I’m here to report that although Cricket, Jerod’s dog, was stung, Jerod was not. And Jerod was as calm and soothing as could be with the bees. And the bees responded by being mellow beyond belief.

We saw bees coming in loaded with pollen, we saw drones, we saw bees eating, we saw bees festooning. We saw bee bread and capped honey and capped brood, and we saw a bee get her first glimpse of the world…she was just poking her head from her capped cell. Very cool…she seemed all eyes.

It was nice to be able to take a few pictures for you, Reader…it’s not easy to handle a camera and the hive tool and the frames of bees all at once. And those gloves don’t make it any less of a challenge.

Jerod and I are now talking about building our top-bar hives this winter.