Last week provided material for several posts which we somehow are not finding the time to write. Rather than forget completely as another week goes by here is a brief summary.

  • The week began with heat: very warm early mornings, quickly peaking to Fahrenheit temperatures in the nineties, and not cooling down much at night. The bees responded with classic bearding, especially Beatrix, to keep the hive interior from overheating by removing themselves to gather on the outside of the hive. To some extent this is normal temperature-regulating behavior and no cause for alarm but Beatrix, who still lacks a proper roof, was bearding so very much more than Annabelle that we took action. We used an extra pair of inverted top-bars under either end of her plywood roof to keep it from resting directly on the hive and tipped the bar just in front of the follower to provide some venting. It seemed to help a little. As the days cooled and bearding ceased we returned things to their previous state except that we wrapped the plywood in aluminum foil. We shall see what difference this makes in the coming brutal heat promised by the meteorologists.

  • After our moaning about the early onset of summer nectar dearth we were pleased to see that our little patch of around two-score milkweeds, planted with Monarch butterflies in mind, would have a dozen bees working it dawn to dusk. We had quite forgotten that milkweed is reputed to be a major source of nectar in July, which has come early this year.

  • On Friday we were startled to see a number of some sort of gigantic bees, twice the size of our girls, entering Beatrix entirely unopposed. Annabelle was not under similar attack. Looking more closely we saw that the intruders were drones. That set off another panic that the queen was dead or failing but things seem to have returned to business as usual. The foragers are still coming and going in their usual numbers and we have had no more sightings of the brutes.

  • We have neglected to mention that in mid-May we planted behind our hives a pair of dwarf apples, Fuji and Calville Blanc d’Hiver, and a self-fertile quince, Van Deman . And to distract or bribe any interested birds we planted a Wellington mulberry a little ways off. It will take a few years before the trees fruit or even flower seriously and until then we are supposed to remove any blooms that do occur to keep the trees focused on developing roots. But when our Fuji displayed one wee blossom we merely took it as a good sign and enjoyed it until it faded on its own.

  • Having observed crowding at Annabelle’s entrances during the busiest part of the day, in the cool of last Friday morning we opened her fourth entrance, the central one. It took a bit of doing as the cork had been nicely propolized into place. So far it is still not being used as an entrance although we see the occasional forager shooting out of it.