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A job that just had to be done

The summer nectar flow is continuing, brace comb has been appearing all over the observation hive and the glass has became murkier.

Windows cleaned, new furniture installed.

So I braced myself for what I knew would be a tricky job: how to replace frames in the hive, remove the brace comb and clean the windows without turning the office into a frenzy of evicted bees.

It’s quiet in the office now, but it was a bit of a struggle.

I removed the the entry tube and quickly sealed both ends and removed the observation hive to the garden below.The returning foraging bees began to collect by the entrance on the wall because they couldn’t get in. So far so good.

Meanwhile I started opening the hive gently — then forceably –because the bees had propolised lots of the joints. Fortunately, the glass withstood the pressure. I moved the frames to a sealed nucleus nearby and started the rapid cleaning job. I’m glad I hadn’t left the job any longer as things were becoming quite sticky and stained inside.

I then re-installed the brood frame which was stacked both sides with solid worker brood — the first batch of which must be ready to emerge any day now. I inserted two partially completed super frames from another colony, sealed up the hive and returned it to the office.

Doors closed!

It was then the problems started! Removing the parcel tape seals from the entrance and exit tube was — how shall I say it? —  a little clumsily and sluggishly done. Bees escaped into the office. I’m glad no-one telephoned as I’m sure it would have been quite audible if I’d answered.

Then the bees wouldn’t go through the entrance that is part of the hive. I think a little pool of water in the tube was a major deterrent. I drained that, but still the bees outside were slow to come in because they couldn’t find the entrance easily — it was protruding from the wall by about three inches.

Eventually all that was sorted, and the bees in the office left by the window and all is now quiet — well nearly.

There was at least one casualty: a poor wasp investigating the frames in the open air became trapped in the observation hive as I closed it up again and was last seen racing around the hive pursued by very annoyed bees.

I’m left with one of the most complete frames of honey my bees have ever produced — although not competition standard, I’m sure. The glass sides of the hive have meant that the frame they filled is beautifully straight-sided.

Almost too good to eat!

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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