Sunday, September 7, 2008

Beehive removal

Jerry no longer has to work on Fridays, so I was lucky he was available for me to drag him to the arboretum the other day. Together we saw a lifetime's worth of bees in one afternoon, as a professional beekeeper came to remove a hive from a pair of sprinkler control boxes. Knowing he and his Nikon D300 would do a much better job of capturing the moment, (which ended up taking over an hour), I put him to work. You can must see the highlights of his efforts here.

I will say that we (arboretum workers, assorted lookie-loos, and even beekeeper Melinda), were surprised and amazed by how much honey was in the first hive. Melinda had been expecting a "dry hive", containing mostly babies and pollen. The second hive was like that, but the first one was jam-packed with bees, larvae, and gobs and gobs of honey. She would get custody of the honey, which she sells, but she did pass around a few small chunks of oozing honeycomb for us to taste. You just put a piece in your mouth, comb and all, and spit the wax out when you've gotten all the honey. It was really good.

Beekeeper Melinda literally vaccuumed up the bees, (she estimated the hive to contain between 30 to 50 thousand bees!) and carefully removed as many of the combs with babies as she could, to set up a colony somewhere else (wherever she lives, I forget). Here's a close up of a larva. I'd never seen one before. They are incredibly fragile, with scarcely any exoskeleton to speak of. It's amazing when you think of the elaborate structures their sisters create to carefully rear and protect them.

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