Yesterday I got my first bee sting of the year- that’s right! On January 26! She got me good too, driving her stinger into the soft part of my left little finger, a bit below the knuckle! I was able to out maneuver all her friends by quickly walking away and brushing off the few that caught up to me.
The last few days around here have been sunny and unseasonably warm with temperatures in the low 50’s which is about 10 to 12 degrees higher that the historical norm. With the warm-up, some of the honey bees of each hive have gotten active – they are cleaning the hive of dead bees, wrestling weak bees out of the hive, and taking short flights. All in all, each hive has had about 20- 30 bees outside at a time. Compared to the thousands in the colony, this is not a lot, but it is a lot when the bees are supposed to be all balled up in the hive.
Beekeepers here worry about such activity because, they say, if the bees are active, they will use up their winter stores faster and then they may not have enough to last them until spring when the flowers begin to bloom.
I was able to save a frame of honey from the hive that was lost to mites (which I took apart and cleaned up two weeks ago), and I thought that on this warm afternoon, I’d very quickly check in on the “log” hive, and drop in this frame of honey.
I took off the top cover, and then gently tilted up the inner cover and moved it over to reveal the empty slot where the frame would go. I looked across the top of the frames and saw quite a few bees on the top bars about three frames down, so I lifted the inner cover a bit more for a better look. The bees were fat and looked pretty healthy. I lifted a little bit more to get enough room to slide in the new frame.
That’s when a few of the fat bees lifted off the top bars to get a better look at me! So I dropped in the new frame, and lowered the inner cover. But I was a millisecond too late, or they were a millisecond too quick. Either way, they got an extra frame of honey and I got a sting and driven off. I waited a few minutes for the bees to settle down before going back to put on the top cover, which I did without another fight.
I felt good about the log hive after this was all said and done. The bees looked healthy and acted healthy. It seemed that most were in the “ball” between frames, and there were plenty of stores left to get them through. And now they had an extra frame of honey for insurance. I am rooting for this colony – it’s the one that was saved from a tree that was cut down and soaked with wasp spray.
These gals are definitely survivors…