I’m going to use this post to diarise the first few days observations of my newly installed package of bees.
Tuesday Day 1:
The weather was warm with temperatures around 18 deg C. The hive appeared to be settling down. Early in the day there was still quite a lot of orientation flying going on, later this calmed down. I observed dead bees being removed from the hive, other bees appeared to be foraging – a few returned with pollen – but unsure if the hive requires it yet. I did not want to disturb the bees but because of the heat it was necessary for me to check the syrup level in the frame feeder. In order to minimise disturbance, I attempted to observe the level through a hole in the inner cover just above the feeder but could not view the level for the number of bees. I inserted a thin plastic pipe and filled the feeder until I could see the level just below the feeder entrance lip. They had consumed about 1.8 litres of syrup in 24hrs. A few bees got mad but I was able to refill without lifting the inner cover or using smoke and the hive returned to normal almost immediately. in warm weather I now know I will have to refill the frame feeder every 48 hours.
Wednesday Day 2:
Temperature around 17 deg C and overcast with cool but gentle north-eaterly wind. Behaviour of the hive is noticably calmer and more organised. Almost no bees orienting – they just fly straight out or come straight in. Just a few guard bees in the entrance. Dead / dying bees still being removed with a few on the landing board. I have noticed a few what I will call “suicide” bees, that come charging out of the hive, tumble over the landing board and fall onto the ground where they walk into the long grass. They seem slightly disorientated. I suspect they never return from their walk into the wilderness. On a brighter note – several bees are returning with pollen, which I think is a good sign!
Thursday Day 3:
Temperature around 14 deg C started overcast and then full sunshine. Bees very busy – some orientation happening but lots of traffic with more pollen arriving. As this is the third day since installation I needed to check that the comb is being built straight and the frame feeder was due for a refill. So I carried out a very quick inspection, used some smoke and had a quick look to check the combs. There was comb on all 6 frames forward of the follower-board, all of it was straight and a couple of frames were nearly a third complete and had fully drawn out comb. I wanted to minimise the disturbance at this early stage so did not look for eggs or the queen. Made a couple of mistakes. First was allowing a gap between the follower board and the frame feeder next to it. Bees immediately got into the gap and I was unable to close it without crushing bees – so I left the gap. I may have to do some clearing up at the next inspection. Second was using smoke – I think for the very brief look where I only half lifted each frame – I could have got away without. My concern is that using smoke at this early stage could encourage absconding. Anyway I won’t need to make another inspection for at least a week and all seems well. I only needed to add 2 litres of syrup to the frame feeder, so their consumption has dropped to 1 litre a day, I suspect that this is because there is a nectar flow and the bees are only using the syrup to supplement.
Friday Day 4:
Well the bees are still here and very busy foraging and bringing in pollen. Overcast with sunny spells with a warm brisk breeze. I wll make my next inspection in a week by which time I hope that they will have made progress in completely drawing out the comb on the six frames and I will be able to move the follower board back and add additional frames. I will of course be looking for evidence that the queen is laying at that time. I intend to stop feeding when there is at least one frame of capped stores.
Saturday Day 5:
Another fabulous day, highs of 21 deg C warm wind. Bees bringing in pollen constantly. Filled the frame feeder with 1:1 syrup again – they took 1 litre over the last couple of days.