Sorry, no pictures this time. Last Thursday our niece had her second hive inspection with Dr. Milbrath and had invited us, as god-parents of the bees, to attend. Second times, whether lunar landings or bee inspections, generally get less fanfare and attention and we simply enjoyed the event without taking any pictures.
In the previous week our niece had noticed that the bees were nearly filling the first deep but had made no attempt to draw any comb in the second.1 Calling Dr. Milbrath she was advised to swap an outer frame of honey2 with the empty frame above it, the idea being to make the upper deep smell as homelike as the lower. And so our niece performed her first solo manipulation.
A week later the inspection revealed that it had been successful. Not only was comb being drawn in the upper deep on several frames and stocked with pollen and nectar but the queen had begun laying a lovely pattern in a central frame. After shuffling frames to provide an empty one on either side of this brood frame (“opening the brood nest”) the beeks closed up the hive and we all enjoyed snacks3.
Throughout all this the bees were very good natured and although they filled the air around us while their roof was off they seemed more curious than upset. After their home was reassembled the number in the air dropped as they all resumed going about their business. Oh, it was a lovely feeling to again be surrounded by honeybees!
1 It was not certain but possible that the silly bees would feel crowded in the lower deep and swarm without ever noticing all the space above them.
2 Knowing how brood attracts bees we wondered why not a brood frame? This colony, although energetic, was still small and the nights still cool so that Dr. Milbrath did not wish to make keeping the brood nest warm any more difficult.
3 Rosemary and orange shortbread washed down with a cool linden and lemon balm tisane.