Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Uniting and Departing

In the dizzy rush to depart, the were no pictures today, just news to tell you.

Today, as soon as the girls started to fly, I went upstairs to remove the window screen I placed between the returning Queen Abigail's colony and the workers that were left behind with her daughter queen during the swarm attempt.

Since I really needed these girls to unite firmly before I left — for two weeks there will be no one to intervene if there is a problem! — I tried using plastic window screening to let the scent flow freely between the returning and the remaining hive boxes. The bees will fight each other if you just plop them down together, though some beekeepers do that. Instead, with a temporary barrier present they will get small-but-increasing contact over the hours as they attempt to get at each other, during which time the beekeeper hopes they will decide on acceptance. Because the bees can't chew the screen (like they do with newspaper), however, I could not tell if the two halves of the colony-to-be had contacted each other much over the past 3 days.

You try to get the two brood nests as close together as possible when you unite colonies, in part because that's where most of the bees are and the larvae are really what makes a hive a home. The main clusters in both halves had been somewhat separated because this is absolutely a huge (and disorganized) colony, with brood and honey spread over an astonishing couple of deeps and mediums. They are Carniolans, so they like to form a narrow, tall column of brood nest.

Anyway, the deed is done. I like the tidiness of using the screen, but I will learn (potentially the hard way) whether the bees like it, too, by seeing what is left when I return.

As a final gesture, a beseeching and needy sort of futile effort to appease the bee-ish currents in the world, we went over to the Monastery and gave Joe (the president of the garden guild there) my veil, a hive tool, and some sugar so he could feed the girls over there. They really do look fine, but I will sleep better knowing that someone who cares is watching over them.

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