Hive-Mind

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Just One Word. Are You Listening? Plastics!

Danny came by late last week just as I was about to crack open the hives, so I pressed him into service as assistant beekeeper. The morning’s work involved adding some new frames to the hives, to give them some room to expand. Last time I was in, I had combined my dying Hive 2 with a new hive, so they already had two boxes going, but were a few frames short, and Hive 1 was entirely new with just one box going.

You start a hive off with just one box of frames, but as the queen lays eggs and they hatch, the hive population will increase and they need more room. A worker takes about 21 days to hatch (a drone takes 24 days but a queen only 16 days), and I hived these colonies at the beginning of April, so now’s a good time to start making some room.

Danny was a champ as the photo should clearly illustrate. That’s just a normal-sized bee close-up in front of his face, not an enormous monster alien zombie bee. The blur obscuring the comb in the bottom left of the picture is bee poop on my lens. This is the kind of stuff that we rugged nature photographers have to deal with.

I didn’t feel like making the drive up to Beez Neez, so I tried ordering my frames through Betterbee. Without quite realizing it, I ordered Pierco plastic frames. Normally, when you buy a frame, it’s a piece of wood with a thin layer of beeswax hung by thin wires in the middle of it. The bees build up wax cells on top of this foundation and fill it with their honey and eggs and pollen and other bee-like goodnesses. Plastic frames are the same deal, except with plastic instead of wax.

Well, not quite the same thing. As I read on the slip of paper at the bottom of the shipping container after installing the new frames, when installing plastic frames, I’m supposed to:

1) DIP PLASTIC FOUNDATION AREA INTO SUGAR – WATER OR HONEY-WATER SOLUTION FULLY COATING FOUNDATION AREA.

No, I’m not shouting at you, I’m quoting the instruction sheet. It’s in all caps. Bee equipment manufacturers have apparently not heard of the shift key.

NOTE: ONCE COATED KEEP FOUNDATION AREA CLEAN AND TRY TO INSTALL FRAMES / FOUNDATIONS WITHN 10 DAYS OF DIPPING.

Actually, you need the shift key to make a colon on a keyboard, otherwise you just get a semi-colon. So they probably heard of the shift key. Maybe their caps lock is broken.

2) YOU CAN ALSO PLACE SUGAR-WATER OR HONEY-WATER MIX IN PLASTIC SQUEEZE/SPRAY CONTAINER. TAKE TO BEE YARDS, SPRAY NEW PIERCO FOUNDATION AREA AS YOU INSTALL THE PIERCO FRAMES / FONDATIONS IN YOUR HIVES.

There’s some additional (mixed case) info on the other side that goes roughly: “New Pierco Frames / Foundations can be inter-spersed with drawn comb. For best results run 10 Frames / Foundations in your standard 9 frame super. Insert three new Pierco Frames / Foundations in the 3, 5, & 7 positions, (you can go as many as 5 and 5).”

It goes on, but the gist of it is that I didn’t do what I was supposed to (for the umpeenth time). So, new plan: crack open the hives later this week and see what’s going on. If all is not well, spray with sugar water and intersperse the 3, 5, and 7th with the 9th 5 and 5 and. Wait, how’d it go again?

Maybe I better just stick to the all caps section.

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