Opening the Hive

I opened the hive five days ago to take out the queen cage. At the time, I couldn't see any comb being made, just swathes of bees in small catenary curves. The queen cage was empty - all the candy in the plug gone, and worker bees crawling in and out of it.

I have been noticing lots and lots of activity near the hive. I often take my morning coffee out and sit right near the entrance, watching the bees. They've been bringing in nectar and pollen. I can't SEE them bringing in nectar, but I see them in trees and flowers where I know they are collecting nectar. The pollen can be seen, as the bees stuff it in sacs attached to their legs. They look like bright yellow pillows. I've been continuing to feed them sugar syrup, and they've been going through it at an alarming rate, so I was hoping that meant that they were busy building comb. In a top bar hive, that's the first job - they have to build comb, in order to lay eggs, raise young, and store pollen and honey.

So I hoped to see comb when we opened the hive today, and boy, did we!

The comb is a beautiful, fresh white. In it, we could see pollen being stored, and honey as well. What we didn't see is eggs. Or the queen. So, next week I'll open up the hive again and see if those things can be spotted. The bees will probably also need another bar or two to build on. I gave them 7 bars to start, and each one has comb on it. This is exactly how bees build their hives in the wild - in hollowed out trees or logs - these wonderful U-shaped curves. I thought the comb might be twisted or several bars worth attached, but each bar had a perfect, straight comb on it.

I'm so thrilled. Everything looks good with the bees. They are so calm and happy, we barely needed our hoods today; they didn't bother us at all, even though we were bothering them plenty.

Aren't they beautiful?