In the last post, I said that I had been surprised to find new comb that had been built, filled, and capped since my first small harvest. I went back yesterday thinking I would do another small harvest, but was disappointed.
The hives looked normal when I arrived. There were still bees coming and going, along with the constant washboarding bees on the front. I also saw bees bringing in pollen. When I opened hive #1, I found the aftermath of a collapse.
Both new combs that I had seen full last time had fallen. New comb is weaker than comb that has had the chance to mature, and I think that may have been part of its downfall. It was fresh comb that was immedietly filled (and therefor as heavy as comb gets). It only made it worse that we have had a bunch of mid 90′s temperatures. In any case, the nice filled and capped combs were no longer there to be harvested. The bees had emptied the comb quite well, but I don’t know how much went to the ground through the screened bottom. It looked like they had moved at least some of the honey to the other combs, most of which have also been used for raising brood. I don’t really want to harvest honey from old brood comb, so I guess they get to keep whatever they were able to salvage.
I pulled out the fallen comb to take home. Eventually, we will process the wax and my wife will do something with it (I think candles is the plan). I found the remains of four workers who where caught under the comb when it fell. I’m surprised that I only found 4, but its possible that other bodies were already removed by the housekeepers.
One thing to salvage from the visit was a nice picture however. My wife and daughters had come along so I had someone who could run the camera (usually there is just me). While I was removing the fallen comb, I brushed off the worker bees before removing it. With one piece, I left a drone on it and took it over to my girls to see. I was explaining how drones are different from workers, such as that they don’t have stingers (an important point for my oldest daughter). While we were looking at it, my wife snapped a picture. The drone just happened to take off as the picture was taken.