The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Eight weeks in, the package is ready for a new box

Mass of honeybees

The package we installed at the beginning of June consumed a lot of sugar water at first, slowed down a bit, then a week or two ago began taking nearly a quart a day again.  Since the swarm we captured a few weeks later didn't show the same trend of increasing their sugar-water consumption recently, I figured that meant our package was building new comb.  Sure enough, a photo up through the bottom of the hive on Monday showed bee activity in the lower box for the first time.

Bee bearding

On Thursday morning, I noticed bees bearding on the outside of that hive.  Bearding can mean the hive is too hot, but since these bees were bearding first thing on a cool morning, I suspected it was instead a sign of congestion inside the hive.  I'd go sit on the porch too if I was sharing an apartment with tens of thousands of roommates.

Honeybee colony

Sure enough, a photo up through the bottom on Thursday showed even more bees in the lower box.  When I take a photo up into a hive, I stick my camera directly on the screen and don't zoom, so you can tell how close the bees are to the camera by size.  They look about twice as big in the photo above compared to the one at the top of this post, so I'm guessing the bees were nearly touching the screen when this second photo was taken.  While there are too many bees to guess how much of the second box is now full of drawn comb, I figured it was time to expand their living space.

Smoking a Warre hive

I snuck a bit of smoke under the quilt as well as in the entrance, and was then able to lift the two boxes plus quilt to the side and add a new box underneath without straining myself or bothering the bees.  Kayla came along to take the photo above (and to get a bit of experience since she's considering embarking on beekeeping), and was amazed at how calm the bees acted.  This set of bees is definitely my nicest hive --- I have to plop the sugar water in the entrance feeder and run to prevent suiting up when visiting our barn swarm.

Our chicken waterer makes care of the backyard flock nearly as fast and easy as beekeeping.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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