I mentioned previously that keeping bees is full of surprises, and this week’s update has just the right example. I will take you now with me on this week’s featured, 30-minute long emotional rollercoaster ride.
Gaining speed… I approached a busy, active hive, placed the bottom board I made, to seal the hive for winter, which didn’t fit. Did. Not. Fit. Great start. I will have to make another one for next week.
Going up… My anxiousness on whether the colony was strong enough to deal with the wasps on their own, was entirely unnecessary. Simple human, thinking the bees need me to defend them – the wasps were nowhere to be found; the area was wasp-free. Woohoo!
Bees 1 : Wasps 0
Heading down… The honey stores compared to brood frames were back on the low side; more bees than honey. That was disappointing, especially as it was a big change and we are rapidly approaching the dark, tunnel of Winter.
Loop the loop the loop… The bees were extremely defensive making the inspection incredibly difficult. Right from the start, there were several circling around my head, bumping into me, making a dizzying, buzzing noise that seemed to come from every direction. You’d think they are trying to throw me off-balance! On top of that, placing frames back in a hive in which you can’t even see the wood, is especially difficult if you are trying to leave bees unharmed.
Through the tunnel of wonders… My bees exhibit the uniquely, honeybee behaviours, like hanging onto each other when the frame gap gets bigger. Little reminders of why these creatures are ultimately amazing.
Round the carousel… Knowing the Queen is around but not being able to see her amongst her daughters. Will I ever have the skills to spot her before she disappears?
Ending with confusion station… I spotted a bee looking particularly white. Then another. Then some more with white markings on their backs. Then others with white wings. I have ghost bees! What is this? Are they sick? But it can’t be, they are the older ones, the foragers. What could this mean?
I did later find out what the markings were. They are the signs of bees foraging in a particular plant called Himalayan Balsam. While collecting the sweet nectar, they get covered in the flower’s white pollen, looking dusty and white. Many of my foragers had white pollen sacs. What I later dug out was also that honey made entirely from this plant, was halucinogenic, dubbed ‘mad honey’. This is a honey that fetches a price five times that of normal honey – in the black market. It is not on supermarket shelves because of its highly toxic effect on the human system.
Another reminder to always consider what food your own food had lived on…
Inspection Results: The colony is healthy with a healthy, laying queen (that I, once again, missed). Bees are still foraging and saving honey, preparing for the winter. No disease, no pests and no damage to the hive. Just some ghost bees wondering about confusing everyone.