This morning I was better, but not by much. So I called in sick to work, slowly gathered a blanket, tea and the book I'm reading and settled back into the couch. I napped most of the day. Then around 3:30pm there was a knock on the door. My parents had come over to check on the bees. Last Sunday, on Mother's Day, they had said they were going to come to check on the bees, but my flu-stupor made me forget. They, in turn, were not expecting me to be home and were surprised to see my Pacifica in the driveway. After learning I was sick, Mom decided not to come into the house - smart, the air was probably thick with flu bugs. Dad ventured in but only long enough to make some sugar water and I think he held is breath. Since the sun had come out, I decided I could use some fresh air and headed down to the hive with them.
The first step to checking on the bees, is to get all the equipment out and ready. It took some serious effort to get the smoker started because the newspaper and kindling that we keep in the barn were damp-ish due to the persistent, misty rain that only cleared today. I sat on the old railroad beams, covered in moss because my legs felt weak and was of no help at all. Finally the fire took and we walked over to the hive.
Dad pumped a little smoke in through the entrance and then propped up one edge of the top and pumped in a bit more. Then he removed the top and took out the frame feeder. We have been keeping the frame feeder full of sugar water since bringing the bees home. In a normal year, we probably could have stopped supplementing their food by now, but it has been so cold and rainy that all the flowers, and our orchard, are at least one month behind. We have also put a pollen cake in the hive every other week. There was no sign of the last pollen cake and the frame feeder was nearly empty. As Dad filled it I peaked in between the frames. The bees had drawn out comb on all by the most-outer-edge frames.
For those who are not bee keepers -- The frames are a sheet of grooved plastic in a wooden frame. The bees build comb off the plastic; this is called "drawing out" comb. In the middle most drawn out frames, the queen starts to lay eggs. In the outer most drawn out frames, the bees make honey. We decided to pull one of the frames to see how it looks. Honey! They are already making honey! I can almost taste it!
Since all looked great we put the frame and full frame feeder back in. Mom laid a new pollen cake on the top of the frames and we shut up the hive.
So if not for the flu, I would have been at work and missed the hive opening.