Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Tour of the Castle

Dear Mom,
Last Friday, I felt it was time to take a look inside Queen Alessandra's castle to check on the progress and expansion of the colony.  It has been three weeks since I installed the four new frames of bees into the hive.  My friend and mentor, Melissa, helped locate Queen Alessandra two weeks ago, and I have been noticing increased traffic and activity of the bees.  My eager assistant, N, got the smoker started.  The smoke calms and quiets the bees by disrupting the alarm pheromone sent out by the guard bees.  Since we would be opening the hive up and moving frames around, we definitely wanted to smoke the bees...just a little bit goes a long way.  N also photographed our castle tour and took some great photos for me to show you!

The bees have built some extra comb which is coming out the ventilation hole of the inner cover.  I later scraped this off and added it back into the hive body for the bees to reuse. 

N and I were thrilled to see that the bees have expanded out onto the newer frames.  We estimated they have drawn out (built new wax comb) on at least 80% of the foundation and we concluded it was time to add a new super (a second floor to the castle)!

The bees were calm and cooperative.  We pulled a frame from the other side of the brood box and were excited to see what the bees have been doing.  The white stuff at the top of the frame is capped honey cells!

We did not see Queen Alessandra, but we weren't really looking for her.  It is obvious that the colony is growing and we know she is inside one of these busy inner frames laying eggs. 

I have to look in the reference books and ask a lot of questions (thank goodness for Melissa) to figure out what I'm doing.  I listen to webinars while I'm ironing!  I feel I only know 10% of what there is to know about bees...but I am just LOVIN' it! 

And the castle just grew taller!
Love, Bonnie Jo