We checked the beehives today. The older hive seems to be busier than the newer one, but both have a good amount of capped brood, and capped honey. The new queens came with a yellow dot, to make it easier to identify them among the mass of bees, but we couldn’t pick them out in either hive—the brood is an indication that the queens are there, but it would have been reassuring to actually see them.
Many of the bees seem really tiny, and a few seem ancient—almost papery looking, moving more slowly over the comb, but still active. Perhaps the older ones hung in longer than usual to keep the hives going during the dark days when no queen was laying eggs. Now newer generations are emerging, and can take over.
In the garden the honeybees cover the echinacea, filling up their sacs with the flower’s pollen. We’ve had an abundance of flowering plants, drawing a wide range of bees (from tiny ones attracted to the even tinier flowers of the yarrow, to big fat bumble bees). The easy access and close proximity to food is probably a saving grace for our dangerously depleted hives.
When we open the hives we are suited up, and armed with the smoker (and now a sugar spray which distracts the bees). Honeybees are not aggressive, but they will protect their home, so they don’t like us pulling out the frames and examining them. However, because we are protected, and work quickly and methodically, I never feel alarmed (which is good, because bees can also sense fear, and that makes them uneasy).
I have also become accustomed to bees flying around me in the garden, and so I ignored repeated warnings from some wasps last weekend. I was trimming the forsythia and viburnum bushes, which had such huge growth spurts they created too much shade in the flower garden. I heard the buzzing but paid no heed, until finally getting stung twice, on the forehead and elbow, by what looks like a baldfaced hornet (mostly black, with white). I later found their papery nest in the bush, which I had been pushing up against. So the bushes will remain untrimmed, and I will pay more attention to warnings.