Mr. Combover made a solo visit to the hive today to re-stock the top-feeders with some sugar water. Beekeepers often provide bees with some additional fuel to help the bees get a jumpstart on the early parts of the season before flowers are in full-full bloom. Everything looked standard in Hive #1, but Hive #2 has gone rogue after only 1 week?!
The picture above is the ceiling to the top feeder. A slim piece of plywood, it is the ceiling of the interior hive, providing a seperation vs. the roof which is a separate piece with metal for environmental protection. What’s out of place in this picture is that the bees have decided to start building honeycomb in the top-feeder – not a good thing. There are several reasons this isn’t a good thing. First, the top feeder will be removed in a few weeks as the hive gets up and running, so any work they put in will not be put to good use in the long run. Second, it is important that the bees build their comb on the standard frames so that we can inspect and harvest in the appropriate ways.
But before we start worrying that we have problem children on our hands we should stop and self-reflect that – as usual – nature doesn’t mess up – beekeepers do! In this case, due to a complicated overlapping travel schedule Cam and Mr. Combover were not able to re-stock the top-feeder with sugar water in a timely manner. As a result, the top feeder became an empty dry space – indicating to the bees that they would need to eventually colonize and build comb to fill this space. The bees were following the rules – the beekeepers weren’t. Oops.
In the end, Mr. Combover used one of the metal tools to scrape the comb off the ceiling and removed the excess comb. He then gently brushed the bees back into the bottom super to encourage them to focus on the immediate task of buidling comb in the bottom super box.
As an aside, one other reason that the bees might have started building comb in the top-feeder could have been that they had finished work in the bottom super and were starting to get overcrowded and needed more space, but upon close inspection, several of the exterior frames had yet to be built with comb, suggesting they were not out of space in the bottom super.