Taking care of Bees one important thing you want to do is Observing. During Hive Inspections our Mentor, Maarten, is looking for all kind of signs. Pollen and Wax on the bottomplate are telling you the Bees are doing their work properly.
You want to see eggs in the frames + socalled open brood and capped brood, all stages a Bee goes through before emerging into the world. The Queen is doing her work and the Hive is growing.
What about food storage. Are they making Honey?
Also outside the Hive you want to look for signs showing things are right or wrong. It is normal to find some dead Bees but it is not normal if there are many or wings or legs. That are signs indicating there might be a robber wanting to steal the Honey.
But how to observe while being blind.
Wax and Pollen we, of course, can check by feeling on the bottomplate and taste. But what about behavior?
On our Sacred Beekeepers, calendar August is known as Venom Moon. The Bees can be more stingy because there might be less Nectar around. Persephone’s Hive is mild and gentle. Their Hum is pretty low which means they are moving their wings slowly, being calm. Because as you may know the flapping of the wings causes vibrations and these vibrations are translated by our ears into sound. The faster they are flapping with their wings the higher the tone of their Hum.
Jan and I noticed that since a few weeks the Bees were more stingy. To be honest Jan noticed. He got stung ten times. Being close to the Hive, at the backside, being silent and not moving fast, the Bees would come and sting. The Guards would come as soon as we were entering their Area or even while being in the garden close to their Area. The sound was higher than we were used to. The sound wasn’t higher only, it also was sort of sharper. Something was wrong. In the beginning no visual signs could confirm our observation in a way of something is wrong. Also the scent of the Hive was changed. It smelled a bit yoghurdy. This might mean that there indeed was less or lack of food and then you smell the Brood only.
Two weeks later we, our Mentor, noticed signs of robbing. There was a wing and leg and antenna on the bottomplate. We gave them extra food in case there was less Nectar and we reduced the entrance so the Guards could do their job more easily.
After two days the beehavior was changed again. They were Humming more calmly and did not come to us while approaching the Hive or being in the garden.
Except looking for signs it is very important to be aware of every little change in behavior, in sound, scent and movement.
We’re definitely not as good as Francois Huber, a blind naturalist who lived from 1750-1831 and who studied the Bees with help of his wife and assistant. It was him who wrote the book: New Observations on the Natural History of Bees. He is a great Inspiration and source of information. Because of his work we now know what is happening in the Hive, what roles the Bees have, all the different work they do and all about Queens. To honor him you will find a link towards his work.