Dawn, as always you are a font of information!
I recently did some house keeping with the ladies and wound up removing a large sheet of comb that was sandwiched between a drawn frame and the wall of the brood box. Spacing is always so very delicate an issue. It’s like when you have hive boxes and hive frames and space and bees it is always a goldilocks day; nothing is ‘just right’ and I wind up with too much or too little space somewhere…
It did give me an opportunity to taste some of that honey they have been making all summer. I am here to say that it is some of the rankest honey I have ever tasted! Moral of the story is the xeriscaping in our area is good for keeping the water bills down during the drought, but NOT great for fragrant delicious honey! We all cracked up laughing when we had the tasting. It was BAD!! All this effort and the honey is barely edible.
I am hoping that at other times of the year it will improve. There are dozens of meyer lemon trees in the area and I am going to make a point of harvesting each frame into a different container so that if we get a good batch it won’t be mixed into the rest of the dreck.
The girls have had a busy summer. They settled down and got busy housekeeping, and in June, just before I let on a trip I checked in on them and saw that they had filled up almost all of the five old frames they came with and were drawing nicely on the three new frames. The brood pattern was even and not too much drone at all so I was pretty happy. It looked early to put on another box, partly because June in San Francisco is a pretty cold damp affair and I was worried about a small hive keeping the space warm. I figured that by the time I got home in 3 weeks or so they would be ready for another brood box.
I got back from Italy in July and made the mistake of letting the jet lag slow me down. We landed on Saturday late and on Tuesday morning they had swarmed into my neighbours plum tree, the pesky wenches!
My bad for not getting in there on Sunday. Prolly could have prevented it… And man were they persistent. I caught most of them and set up a nuc next to the hive planning on re-combining them. They were so close to the swarm site they were flying back and forth. It was an awkward places to get to, but I did 3 more collections from the same site. On the last attempt I got my neighbours permission to prune out the limb they were festooning. It was just beyond fun; balancing on a ladder on top of my truck roof with a pruning saw cutting out a limb about 2" in diameter whilst trying to hold everything steady… There was even comb drawn on the branches. Which is crazy. You don’t DO exposed hives in NorCal silly girls!
I stuck the forked branch into the nuc and left them to settle down. They were not easy to handle at all, but I managed to keep people away from them and the only one who was stung was me and the spouse when he was helping. So much for swarms being calm and happy. I think these miscreants had move in permanently and viewed their little plum tree as home sweet home. All told it took almost three weeks to get them back home and settled down and into one hive. I perched the nuc over the hive with a sheet of paper between them and left them to chew thru and get reacquainted. The nuc never showed signs of brood so I was pretty sure I just had worker bees. Right after I accomplished that I was back on the road for a few more weeks, but with the new brood box in place they had nothing but space.
By the time I got back in mid August they were drawing nicely and the second box was around 1/2 full.
In mid September I did another inspection. They were at 3/4 capacity and the cross comb was getting a bit out of hand. I did a full break down, cleaned up the frames and then modified them a bit and went to 9 frames in the brood boxes. That was when I got the lovely sheet of comb honey, all drawn and capped from between the end frame and the wall of the box. I figure I can feed it back to them at the end of winter if they need a boost. It’s sitting in the freezer for the season. God knows that after tasting it, WE won’t be eating it!
When I was done with all my housekeeping I put (at last) my flow hive on top! I was so happy to finally be able to do that!
So fast forward past another long trip to the middle of October. I inspected thru the windows and see propolis stuffed into all the cracks and plenty of ladies head first into the cell, but so far no frames in there full enough to show honey on the ends where I can see it. We are at the end of indian summer here and the season never really stops for us but it does slow down. The ladies are still very active with the days ranging between 60 and 70 degrees.
Because of our unusual climate I plan on running the flows year round. I expect that the two deep brood boxes with 9 frames each will make it very unlikely that Her Highness will mess with brood on the oversized flow frames. If she proves me wrong I will rethink that plan, but for now that’s what I want to try.
One more note, I think that urban bees have a more fashionista bent than most bees do. When they moved from San Bruno up to The City in the spring, they were mostly brunettes or dishwater blondes. I am seeing that are mostly sporting blond bee hives these days. Chic bees ; -D