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Covered in Beeeeez

Hoo. That was a rush. I feel a little sick. My partner and I got the second tier on the beehives, no stings. The tops were good and stuck on there, used a putty knife to pry them off. I have zero experience with bees, and I'd like to take a class, but the cost has been a little prohibitive, so basically I know what I've gleaned from the landlord and YouTube.

The stressful part in a full beekeeper outfit wasn't so much the fear of getting stung, but not hurting the bees.

These hives were pretty much abandoned a couple years ago, and the bees have swarmed and come back, the hives have never been harvested. Safe to say it was Waaaaay past time to put extra tiers on-you're supposed to do it as soon as they've drawn comb-about two weeks after you initially put them in there, according to YouTube.

That hive smoker works great when there's actual smoke coming out of it: The bees think there's a forest fire and immediately retreat into the hive to eat honey, or fly off. We had to relight it twice, and of course as soon as we walked away it started working. Probably should have looked up the best way to light that. Now it's expanded with the heat so we can't get the lid off. We put water in there, now we wait. They weren't super pissed, nothing like they were (mysteriously) in January.

I just went back there -an hour after messing with them, and they're a LOT more active than they were before, but I can't tell if they're mad or back to work making more comb, though it looks like normal, if slightly frantic, hive activity and they weren't agressive. The occupied hives were completely full with dark comb, so safe to say they didn't have much to do before.

I saw lots of YoutTube videos with guys adding a second tier to the hives using a smoker and wearing just a long sleeve shirt and jeans. I didn't even think about doing that, as while I'm not allergic to bee stings, there IS poison in them, so pretty much everyone has a reaction, they make me swell up and feel like crap for a couple days, so yeah, not up for taking chances yet.

Two weeks ago they were swarming and we took the old comb out of the abandoned hives, hoping they'd move in. I think they just went back into the two active ones. It looks like they're starting to check the empty hives out again, but haven't started rebuilding. I like that we have a few pounds of old raw beeswax now, which is great firestarter, but I'll need to boil it to use it for anything else as it's pretty filthy.

Anyway, yeah, that was a rush. I imagine it's not a big deal after awhile. I'll probably suit up again in two weeks and see how they're doing. If anyone reading this is an apiarist or knows one, I would LOVE to pick their brain on what to do from here. I'm not even particularly bothered about harvesting the honey, which would be awesome, however feeding the bees over winter could be expensive; but I do want them to thrive.

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November 2016


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