In an episode of ‘Murders at Barlume’ septuagenarian Emo takes half-his-age Beppe fishing and advises him that “There is a fine line between being fishermen and being two fools1 sitting on the beach.” Beppe reasonably asks, “Which are we?2

Beekeeping is like that, at least, for us. Some days we can clearly read the comb, understand the bee behavior, and act correctly with confidence. And other days we wonder what happened, what are the bees up to, and, most importantly, what should we do? Which brings us to last Sunday’s inspections.

Neither Angharad nor Blodwyn showed any sign of drawing out comb on the new plastic frames. Perhaps it is just too soon but to more strongly encourage them we exchanged each hive’s bottom two boxes so that the box of new empty frames would be between the box of brood and the box of honey. Then we added an empty box above the inner cover to hold a feeder of syrup.

And on to Dorcas. Still broodless and without our seeing her majesty but with a queen cell being built that was not there last week. It seems a bit late. Who do they think going to lay in there?

Leaving Dorcas still open but covered in a cloth we opened up Beatrix, bursting with bees. Starting from the far end we worked our way through honeycomb towards the brood chamber, finding some examples of cross-combing, on which we performed corrective surgery. We simply harvested the worst case.

Eventually we reached the beginning of the brood chamber, a comb of solid drone brood. We removed that also, after sweeping off the bees, and carried on. We found one pair of badly cross-combed bars. Unlike the honeycomb, we left these alone. The queen may have been lurking somewhere in the maze and we did not wish to risk injuring her. Or the brood for that matter.

Finally we found what we had been seeking, a frame with brood young enough to become queens. Carefully ensuring that the queen was elsewhere we transferred the comb to Dorcas and closed her up. Back at Beatrix we interspersed some black plastic frames to make up for the ones we had removed. We added them to the honey area since the nights were yet too cool to want to add empty frames to the brood chamber.

And so, having left no hive free of our ministrations, we returned home to ponder the answer for the day.


1The English subtitle actually used a ruder, slang term for ineffectual self-abuser, which arguably better captures the sense of the Italian ‘coglioni’ but we feel an urge to keep a pretense of gentility in our blog.
2Coglioni, as it happens.