Paul and Adele have been feeding and spying (very handy having a glass panel) on the swarm housed in the top bar hive in their garden. However, the time to open the hive eventually came. So, after nearly four weeks, myself and Mike (the crafter of the hive) met with Paul and Adele to see how things were going.
After reading various forum comments and viewing several youtube excerpts I half expected comb to be built everywhere – in particular across the top bars (cross combing) and down the sides of the hive body, I even took my bread knife along just in case. Slightly unfortunate that I forgot I had done so for a couple of days, but who needs toast anyway?
In actuality the bees had built seven small combs incredibly neatly and hadn’t stuck it down anywhere inappropriate at all. I have definitely warmed to these bees – not only were they beautiful builders with a very handsome Queen (dark with red/brown stripes) but they were so docile we didn’t need any smoke, or even a veil, as the photographers found out!
Thankfully there were recently hatched bees, lots of sealed brood, larvae and eggs to be seen. Cell size was noticeably smaller than on foundation, next time I’ll take some drawn out comb on foundation along for comparison. Interestingly, we found cells filled with pollen, although no reserves of nectar or honey. Hopefully this is as a result of the new swarm building their comb and expanding their colony and is a temporary situation.
Can you find the eggs in the above picture?
Finally, we checked the monitoring board and amongst piles of white wax flakes and yellow and orange pollen there were two varroa mites. Not bad for one colony over nearly four weeks (even a small colony). Bees are amazing anyway, but seeing them living in our wonderfully crafted top bar hive and making their own comb was absolutely fabulous.