Delilah inspection #1: May 1, 2010: When I first got my wooden ware, I was so excited to get started I painted all the boxes that night. MISTAKE #1 I painted the inside of two of the boxes as well. Jeff said that the smell may cause them to swarm and that he would give me more bees if that happened. Delilah has forgiven me. They seem to have made themselves right at home. On my first inspection 7 days after I had installed the hive Delilah was practically spilling out of the roof. I had only given her a single deep and the brood that came with my nuc had all hatched and they were busy. I added another deep. Jeff was with me for this inspection so he found my queen and took my picture with her.
Delilah inspection #2: May 9, 2010: My second inspection was a MESS. This was my first inspection by myself after three years of beekeeping and all I was going to do was quickly check on the Delilah, now two deeps, and see if she was ready for a super. Under the inner cover I could tell that almost all the frames were full, even out to the outer edge, where they were beginning to draw out the comb. Then I pulled out the first frame and discovered about four inches of burr comb on the bottom of the frame. My confidence dropped. MISTAKE #2 I had put the shorter, super frames in a deep hive body leaving four inches or so of empty space that Delilah had spent the last week drawing out beautiful free flowing burr comb. This comb was full honey, pollen, and fat little bee larvae. I didn’t know what to do. I instantly thought of my bee keeping club back in college and thought this would have never happened if I had twenty other bee keepers looking over my shoulder. I also thought of our beekeeping advisor, Campolo, professor of ethics and society and a beekeeper himself; he would have cried for the bees. So that is what I did.
I scraped the burr comb from the bottom of each frame and solemnly cried as I crushed baby bees and spilled collected honey. I filled up a 5 qt camping pot with burr comb. It was a horrifying massacre which happened on Mother’s Day of all days. All the while, behind me and separated only by a fence, my neighbors were having a Mother’s Day crawfish boil and I thought for sure, they were going to notice the cloud of crying bees that were all around me.
Somehow I avoided even one sting, I think Delilah knew that I was just doing my best. I left the pot of comb that I had crushed in front of the hive and Delilah ran rescue missions for the remainder of the day, two bees at once carrying one fat little larvae back inside the hive. I put the super frames into the super and put the hive back together adding the deep, so now Delilah has two deep hive bodies, with a super. I did not see the queen on this inspection, although to be honest, my vision was a bit blurred from the tears.
May 11, 2010: MISTAKE #3 First real rain of the season and I realized mid down pour that Delilah was on a bit of a slant causing the rain water to fall on the bottom board and roll into the hive. [This is how I killed my vermiculture hobby, so I was quick to respond to this issue]. With help from my room mate Warren (who was a little too drunk for this job, but I didn’t realize that until it was too late) we went out to put some bricks under the back portion of the hive. In doing this we accidentally separated the hive bodies creating a gap. Highly agitated bees started pouring out of the gap and we were soon in a cloud of bees under a cloud of rain and lightning. No one was happy. I crushed a minimum of three bees trying to get the hive put back together and then lifted the hive enough to put the bricks under it. Water came spilling out the front like a water fall. It was like bee Katrina for Delilah, but luckily I was able to act faster than the government. I vowed to leave Delilah alone for a while after all these mishaps and I told her this over and over again as I was picking up my supplies in the rain. I only got stung once on the glove, but Delilah had given me my last warning. Three strikes, and one to grow on?
So that brings us up to today.
Delilah inspection #3: June 5, 2010: Today I did a complete hive inspection with the hopes of no future drama. I was so excited to see Delilah had almost completely filled the super I had put on. The honey at the top of each frame was capped and all but the outer two frames were drawn out for honey storage. Under the queen excluder, there was entire deep hive body full of honey. I had to ask my boyfriend, Leroy, for help lifting this because it must have weighed over 80 lbs. (I am known to exaggerate, but all I know is I couldn’t lift it at all and Leroy made fun of me until he tried to lift it and said “oh, this is heavy” so we did it together).
In the bottom hive body, there are 8 frames of capped brood with some young larve, little worms, and some older larvae, fat worms. I was over joyed. Delilah had recovered from all my mishaps. Then I spotted Queen Delilah herself. She is unmarked but is pretty easy to spot because she is really red where most of her progeny are black and very small. I was so proud that I had found her that I yelled to Leroy to come and see and made them all very upset. NOTE: Bees don’t like loud noise. At this point, I had been inspecting without gloves because I read in several books that wearing gloves is a bad habit. However, I put the gloves on to put the hive back together and as soon as I did this and started to put the 10th frame in the hive body, one of Delilah’s workers stung my glove as if trying to teach me a lesson. As my confidence increases, I think I will try to wear gloves less.