Yesterday, day seven since transferring the nuc bees to our hive, we attempted another inspection, lifting frames to see how they were settling in, to try to find the queen, look for eggs, and so on. We had decided that part of our problem was a tendency to rush once the bees began swirling about us in earnest. We have a measure of the proverbial beekeeper calm but not quite enough. A sugar spray sort of worked to distract the bees but resulted in sticky spots over the hive, the camera, and the other beekeeper. Spraying with plain water was an improvement in this regard but the effects did not last as long. This time out, with some misgivings, we attempted to use the traditional smoker, a can of smoldering fuel, dried sumac in our case, with a nozzle and bellows. A few puffs from it will dissuade agitated bees from buzzing around the beekeeper. Some say it calms them but the principle seems more to be that rescuing the larder from fire is more urgent than assaulting a burglar. It doesn’t sound nice but it seemed to work for us.
We started to inspect the frames from the end of the hive furthest from the brood and entrances and discovered our first difficulty. We could not really remember what that frame (or any others) had looked like before. The comb was somewhat drawn out. Recent construction? We could not tell. We resolved to henceforth take pictures of frames and top bars as we pulled them so we would have something to consult more that was more reliable than our feeble memories. We, of course, had forgotten to bring the camera on this occasion.
Proceeding resolutely through the rest of the frames and top bars we never did see the queen. Have we lost another one already? Maybe not. Queens like to hide and can be hard to spot for beginners. We definitely saw larvae. That is a good sign. But did we see as many as we should have? Ah, there is nothing over which we can not work up a good fret. We may have seen some eggs (enough?) but one of us has abominable eyesight and both have trouble closely observing through the veil of our bee suits. A sheet magnifier did not help. We looked but failed to see.
We did observe a bit of festooning at the other ends of the originally becombed top bars. The existing combs on these bars have been extended and reach nearly to the bottom of the hive. The bees seem interested in building similar comb at the far end and eventually ought to merge them to have comb along the entire length of the bar. That was encouraging.
And so we closed up the hive to leave them undisturbed for another week except for peeks through the observation window, which we have decided will run the entire length of our future second hive, and perhaps (probably) feeding after the feeder follower is fixed.