I had a look at my bees today. Quite the drama. Right from the start I probably should have just packed in and come back another day.
I lit the smoker. Poorly it turns out. It went out just after I opened the hive. I left the hive and relit the smoker. After 5 minutes it went out again, I really need to work on my smoker skills… I just persevered, I feel fairly safe in my bee suit. I worked pretty quickly so that I could get out of their space as fast as possible. All the times that I have opened the hive (about 5 or 6 times) I haven’t seen the queen. I am not bothered by this as there is plenty of evidence that she is in there so I wasn’t actually looking for her today. I didn’t look at all the frames mostly just the outside ones to see if they were storing honey and if I needed to add another super. Yes and not quite yet are the answers.
When I check the hive I place the roof on the ground near the fence and place the second frame in it and lean the frame against the fence. The rest of the frames I just shuffle around in the box. The bees weren’t thrilled that I was there without a smoker so once I had garnered the information that I needed I prepared to pack up and leave.
I realised that some of the bees from the frame on the ground were now creating a cluster on the fence. I was unsure what to do so I decided to use my hive tool to brush them onto the lid with the intention of just flipping the lid and putting it back on the hive, surely the bees would just work themselves out. I brushed. A chunk of bees fell onto the lid. I lifted it to return to the hive. I saw the queen. I had nearly lost her on the fence. Now unsure how to get her back in the box safely. I tried a couple of gentle taps, a little shake, nothing. She would not get out of the lid. I didn’t know if she could get past the hive mat if I just put the lid back on. I thought about removing the mat and coming back later and replacing it. I tried one more tap. I lost the queen. I am assuming she fell in and went straight down between some frames. I hope. I gently replaced the lid and walked away.
As the bees were annoyed there were still some walking over my suit so I did some gentle laps of the backyard til they came off. Once I could see no more on me I walked to the back door to do a final check before gong inside. That is when I discovered There Was One Inside My Veil. INSIDE. I started humming like a crazy person in my distress. I didn’t know what to do first. I wanted out of that veil and I wanted out Fast. I opted for leaving gloves on and frantic pawing at zips (not recommended, always stay calm, I personally found this hard to do). I managed to get the veil off without getting stung in the face. I was not gracious or kind to that bee, I flung it off my veil with all my might. It flew away probably not even knowing what it had done wrong.
I fled inside, a hot frazzled mess. I never want that to happen again, never, never, ever. I assume I did not tend to my zips and velcro well enough. I will be vigilant in the future.
Overall, not a great hive opening… But there was honey both capped and uncapped and plenty of babies. Hopefully there is still a queen.