Into the Hive…in Flip-flops!

On Friday, after a week of rain, I was worried about my bees.  The sun finally broke through the high clouds.  It was time to open my hive for the first time since I set it up on Sunday.  Normally, I would have waited a full week before opening it.  Every time you open the hive, it is said you set your bees back in their work by a day.  With all the rain, I was afraid they were running low on the sugar syrup I had given them.  This time of year, when we are between big blooming sessions, the hive needs extra food and energy to produce the precious stores of honey to sustain itself.  Bees don’t fly when it is raining and it had been overcast and cool all week.

Luckily my daughter, Hanni, was here from California.  She started her bee keeping career a few months ahead of me and has already dealt with having to “re-queen” her hive among other little adventures. We donned our light clothing, hats and veils, and gloves.  Then I realized we were both wearing flip-flops.  “No problem, Mom.  I’ve never worried about them stinging my feet.”
Note the inappropriate footwear…do not try this at home!
Oh, really?  How are feet different than any other body part to a bee?  Regardless, we had our smoker cranked up and spewing lovely pine-needle scented, cool, white smoke and we were ready.  
Josh Luterman had come by to visit Hanni and we pressed him into service with the camera to document our progress.  I was nervous as we unstrapped the top and slowly lifted it.  We gave the hive a couple of puffs from the smoker.  This alerts the bees that we are coming and calms them to some degree.  I would estimate there were sixty thousand bees in the hive.  Their soft buzzing was very soothing.   We settled into a very calm place and merely observed what we were there to see.  
The frames, held up to the slowly strengthening sunlight, revealed a healthy amount of honey, nectar, pollen and brood.   I was pleased to see a lively colony with a strong queen busy laying larvae, as we intruded on the small ecosystem.  
Hanni spotting the Queen
I refilled the sugar syrup feeder then we quickly and fluidly moved unison to reassemble the frames and hive.  There was no drama, and no frenzy.  Just the careful reconstruction of life as it was 10 minutes ago.  While opening the hive for the first time is always exciting, it held extra meaning for me that I was able to share it with my daughter.
More sugar syrup and a little more smoke
As we peeled off the hats and veils, gloves and light sweatshirts, I looked over at Josh with a huge grin.  His face reflected cautious admiration for what Hanni and I had just done; it was heart-warming to a new bee keeper.
Our brave photographer, Josh!

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