IWD - Beginner Beekeeping with the Ladies

We had a special livestream today, as Mirabai and Bianca took over presenting duties in honour of International Women’s Day. They carried out a hive inspection, while lots of helpful tips and tidbits of bee knowledge. They unstuck a glued-on queen excluder, got some beautiful close-up shots of bees and brood, found some small hive beetles and even repaired a brood frame. Hope you enjoy it. 

 

 

Video Transcription

Mirabai:

Hey everyone. We're here at the Flow office today. Cedar’s away today, so the girls have taken over - Bianca and myself, Mirabai. We both work here for Flow Hive, Cedar is actually also my brother. And to celebrate International Women's Day, we decided to take over and spend our day with our favourite ladies. So we're basically just going to do a brood inspection, but more of a beginner level. We're just going to basically share with you our love of what goes on in a beehive, all the different roles, what all the ladies get up to. So I'm going to smoke the entrance.

 

Bianca:

Let’s put our hoods on. 

 

Mirabai:

I’ll just get the smoker going, a few cool puffs of smoke at the entrance. And then I'm going to pop it down there, so the returning foragers get a little whiff of smoke. So yes, beesuits on. As you'll notice, Bianca and I are both going gloveless. We are experienced beekeepers and we prefer to work gloveless. But I definitely have them here, just in case the hive was to get a bit aggressive. But if you’re new to beekeeping, it really does help to feel very safe and secure. So we recommend being well suited-up. Also, some people are severely allergic to bees, so you need to be careful of that. 

Should we get in here? So we're taking off the roof and we're going to just remove the Flow super. We're not going to actually take off the roof of this Flow super. 

 

Bianca:

Maybe we should talk about what this is. This is the hive tool. This is an Australian version. And this is great for prying pot boxes and scraping up brood comb. But this is a particularly handy tip. And also if you pull off this back window, it acts as a great handle. So let's go. Do you want to get that side? 

 

Mirabai:

So should we go above the queen excluder? So we’re just trying to break all the sticky propolis. Well, I think that excluder is going to want to come with us today, then go to the back. And now Bianca’s going to lift it off. And I'm just gonna keep that queen excluder down and you're okay to lift on your own? 

 

Bianca:

Yeah, but it's still stuck. Okay, still stuck. The bees have propolised it up. 

 

Mirabai:

If you lift it towards you, tilt it towards you, I can hold the queen excluder down. Rock it that way.

No, drop it down. So sticky. I think it's going to come off with the excluder. They've gotten so, so sticky and glued it up. 

I see. So what's happened is some of the brood frames actually stuck to the queen excluder and they've propolised it so strongly to the queen excluder.

Bianca:

They're a bit upset. So I'm going to smoke. I want this smoke to just mask the guard bee pheromone. Well, the pheromone that they let off when they sting. So it calms them down. 

 

Mirabai:

So this hive probably hasn't had an inspection for a while. Hence why you see all this burr comb they've built, it’s really gummed up. Sorry, girls. 

 

Whats the difference between burr comb and propolis?

Mirabai:

Well, it's often a mixture. This looks like more wax to me than propolis. So burr comb, they kind of just join up any bits they can't get to often. Then you'll see the darker colour over here is more of a propolis, which is like wax and kind of tree resin. You can see here. Let's lift this off.

So we always check under the queen excluder, just in case she was up there running around, but she isn't. If you're worried that you can't see her or you're not comfortable seeing her, you can rest that on the entrance here, like with your inner cover so that if she was on the excluder, she could run back into the hive. Because when she's in laying mode it's not very easy for her to fly. 

 

Bianca:

This here is brace comb. It's just where the bees are holding the frames in place. And it's good to just scrape it out a bit before you're pulling out the frame. And I like to keep all this rather than throw it away or chuck it back in the hive because it's good practice to avoid leaving wax lying around spreading pathogens. 

 

Mirabai:

And you can add this to your supplies for making honeybee wraps later. Or candles or something like that. We’re just cleaning up, which will make it a bit easier next time we open the hive as well. You never quiet nor what you're going to get with bees. 

 

Bianca:

I also like to do this to avoid squishing bees when we put the queen excluder back on. Because you can imagine bees could get stuck in here. It's quite impossible to avoid that. But you also have to remember that bees encapsulate the whole hive with their propolis and wax because they like to keep it clean and keep away all the bad bacteria. So keep in mind that they do that for a reason. So it's good to support them with their choices.

Lifting out frames

Mirabai:

Alright, I have to bust out the macro lens here because we've got some cute action happening. So you can see here that we've got little bees here, lapping up a little bit of nectar. 

 

Bianca:

Alright, I'm going to take out the first frame. So with my hive tool, I'm just prying it apart like that, breaking the wax and propolis in there. And then I'm getting this pointy end and leveraging off the next frame. Lifting it up with my right hand, using the other side, putting it up there. So then I can put my hive tool down, lifting the frame with two hands. What can you see on that side?

Mirabai:

We’ve got lots of bee bread on this side actually. We've got a lady with some nice white light pollen there. See if I can get a close up of that. Oh, and some orange pollen as well. 

 

Bianca:

So all the different colours of pollen are reflective of all the different flower sources. And one lady bee forager will only attend the same flower in her flight, and then she'll come back to the same spot in the hive and deposit it in the same little section. So that's how you get all those different colours and it's a sign of diversity with all the rainbow of colours, which is awesome. 

 

Mirabai:

Yeah. They need a nice diverse range of pollen. So when you look at a comb like this, what you're looking at is, probably more than 95% of these are worker bees, which are female. These are the little worker bees. 

See this slightly bigger one, that's a drone. And he's a male bee and in a hive of maybe 50,000 bees, there'll be a few hundred drones. More in the springtime, less in the winter, autumn months, they get kicked out.  

The worker bees are the ones that do all the roles in the hive. Basically, they raise the brood, they're the nurses, they make the wax.

 

Bianca: 

They’re the foragers, feeders, cleaners…

 

Mirabai:

They live for about six weeks and about half their life is spent as a house bee and the other half is spent as a field bee. And so when they're in the house, they're nursing, they’re making royal jelly, making wax, building comb and all those wonderful things. They're incredibly hard workers.

I’m gonna give a little bit more smoke. Typically on the edge, like we saw there, we had pollen and a bit of honey stores. The makeup of a hive usually is that the brood will be in this central section. And then on the outer edges, you'll get more pollen stores and bee bread and honey stores. And the drones are usually around the edges as well. So the heart of the hive, the brood is in the middle. 

And if you have any questions, Trace is here, but she's not mic’d up today. So she has to come close so that we can hear.


Trace:

And I might just throw in, Fred Dunn's just joined us. He's a little concerned because he can see you’ve both got rings on. He's worried that if you get stung, your finger can swell and you might not be able to get your ring off. -That can result in circulation being cut off.

 

Fragile comb

Mirabai:

Just be careful that one's quite fragile, and the frame is actually broken. Oh, well don't tip it. 

 

Bianca:

It's not too fresh comb, but this is very fragile. So this is a great example of when a brood frame breaks. So so what we can do, we don't have any elastic bands. What would we do right now is repair that. So what's happened is this bit here of the brood frame, the two staples in there are coming out. This is a bit of a disaster, not yet, but it could be. But we need to go get elastic bands to keep that in place. So if it did fall, it's actually supported and it wouldn't collapse in the hive and actually kill bees or potentially the queen.

Mirabai:

We could just put that to the edge there and be really, really gentle with it. And then we'll come back and we'll rubber band and show you how to fix that. 

 

Bianca:

Sweet. This is a great hive to inspect, so many obstacles, which is awesome for beginners. 

 

Mirabai:

Which is great because you never know what you're going to get when you open a beehive. 

 

Bianca:

And so, see we’ve got all gentle, calm movements. And the bees are really, really friendly, happy with us. So it's mindful to be slow and gentle. 

 

Mirabai:

Yup. So here you're seeing capped worker brood. So the female bees, they spin a little cocoon in the worker brood. So you can say it's like opaque. Here's an example of capped honey. This one is a more translucent capping. The capping can also be quite white as well. So yeah, this is capped honey, and this is capped brood. It looks very different. And as you learn, you’ll recognise what looks like what. You can see down here, we've got some nectar being stored. You can kind of see that glossy sheen.

Bianca:

Same on this side.

Mirabai:

Same on that side. And I wonder if we can see eggs or young larvae in there? No, I don't really see any, but we should have a look at the next frame. Maybe I should spray some smoke to get those bees out of the way.

Alright, so we're getting to the centre of the hive now. We're keeping an eye out for the queen. That's a lovely brood pattern. I've got this beautiful moist wall-to-wall of worker brood. How's it look on that side? 

 

Bianca:

Yeah. It's like almost half on this side of perfectly capped brood here and then the other half looks to be nectar. 

 

Mirabai:

And you'll see the way that Bianca moved that frame, we're working with foundationless frames. Do you want to show it again? So she looked at one side and then to look at the other side, because we don't have wire or foundation, she rotates it away from herself and then flips it, and then you can look at the other side. And then flip it back. So that's how you need to work when you're working with foundationless.

There’s a bit of brace comb. Bianca is just cutting that brace comb so it doesn't rip the frame as she lifts it up and then just slowly lifting it up. 

 

Brood inspection

Bianca:

Lots more nectar. It’s interesting, their pattern of brood. They've just covered half of the frame, like perfectly half. And nectar on the other side. 

 

Mirabai:

You can see here's a kind of band of honey, and then the brood generally will be here. And often in between there you'll have some bee bread, which you do here. There's a bit of pollen and bee bread around the edges of the brood. 

 

Bianca:

I can see larvae on this side. You can tell that this comb is quite fresh because it is quite a light. So this was a swarm that was caught, I believe like about two months ago or less, maybe four to six weeks ago. So you need to be really gentle with the frame and particularly because it's foundationless because it is very fragile. 

I can see a little larvae on this side, but I imagine it'd be quite difficult to see with the camera, but in this bottom corner down there, all the cells point upwards.

 

Mirabai:

Oh yeah, they're really, really tiny. You can just see at the bottom of that cell. 

 

Bianca:

You can see they're in a pool of royal jelly, which is really a sign of a healthy hive, plenty of forage about. And notice that every time I put the frame back in the hive, it's going in exactly the same order. 

Still keeping an eye out for our queen, we haven't spotted her yet. We may have missed her. 

 

Mirabai:

So here we've got a freshly hatched worker bee. See how she's like she's white and furry and fluffy and really new. And then the first role they do is they clean the cells. So they clean and then they become nurses where they nurse and feed the brood.

Bianca:

A little fun fact is that a developing larva will be visited 10,000 times in a day from a worker bee! 

 

Mirabai:

It's crazy! And don't they grow to like 1500 times their size in like five days or something crazy? So that little egg hatches, and then the larva develops so incredibly quickly. Tough job being a nurse bee.

 

Bianca:

Tough being a worker bee. She will die in the field working. She’s going to only live for about 42 days in her life. And that is working every single day. And then the drone bees, who don't have a stinger, their only objective in life is to mate with the queen. They just hang about all day and get fed by the worker bees. And they'll go to a drone congregation in the afternoon. 

 

The Queen

Mirabai:

Here she is, her majesty. She's run off. Oh, there she is. Oh, she's jumped around the other side. 

 

Bianca:

Yeah, there she is in the middle.

 

Mirabai:

I’m holding the frame over the hive because I don't want her to drop off suddenly. 

 

Bianca:

She's big, juicy! She's a runner.

 

Mirabai:

She looks good. Sometimes they run away from the light. They don't like the bright light.

I'm going to be really careful. Cause I know that she's on this frame when I'm putting this frame back in and I would hate to roll our queen. Cause this hive seems to be doing really well.

Do you want to do that last frame? So this is likely to be honey, this last one. Then we'll go back. 

Bianca:

There’s a bit of burr comb, brace comb on that end. I'm just going to scrape it down. And this one is heavier. 

 

Mirabai:

So honey is always heavier than brood.

Bianca:

The queen’s on this one now. She’s run over. 

 

Mirabai: 

She was like, “ah, I'm outta here, you guys, please!” 

 

Bianca:

She’s in the bottom left. Oh, now she's going to the other side. Yep.

Mirabai:

She’s a runner.

 

Bianca:

Oh she is too.

 

Mirabai:

So from her behaviour, I would put that frame back. She's getting a bit runny. She's possibly a bit annoyed that we're sticking her in daylight. So we don't want it to jump or fly. So pop it back.

Brood frame repair

Bianca: 

Another little trick that I actually learned from Mira, is when you return a frame to a hive, put them all together. So then at the end you just have to do one single motion backwards, without risking killing any more bees. Cause you've already popped all the frames here. 

 

Mirabai:

Yeah, I love that one too. Well that was taught to me by a beekeeper in Germany. So there's such a lovely tradition of passing on that knowledge. 

 

Bianca:

And now we just taught a whole bunch of people!

So this frame, what we'll have to do, we'll have to eventually replace this frame and it does have a few bits of broods. So what I would be inclined to do is keep it on the outside. So eventually over time, this brood will make its way this way over cycles of brood development. And so the plan is that this frame will actually become honey. And then that is safe to take out of the hive. 

So when we return this other frame, we'll put it here rather than here and we'll put this frame on the outside. So then with the intention to actually replace this frame, because hopefully it'll be full of honey. 

 

Mirabai:

And then we can eat yummy honeycomb.

 

Bianca:

This is still going to be super tricky to try. And if it's not, we can always shake the bees off and take it. But actually, it's got quite a bit of brood in it. I've got the elastic bands around my wrist. 

 

Mirabai:

Okay. I'll hold it and we'll try it and fix that. 

 

Bianca:

And so I’ll put this frame now. Yeah.

 

Mirabai:

So see how that's popped up. The staple that was holding in place, which is not quite holding and when we pulled it up, it came loose. So I rest that in there. I'm just going to push that down and see if I can put it back in place.

 

Bianca: 

That would be handy. The new comb is super fragile. 

 

Mirabai:

I'll hold it here so that you can get in there with the elastic band around the frame. And we're just giving them a bit more support, holding that comb while they fix the big  crack that happened when we lifted it. Maybe one on the end. 

 

Bianca:

It's amazing that the bees will actually chew this elastic band and dispose of it outside the hive. So if you see strange material coming out of the hive, it looks like spaghetti.

 

Mirabai:

Just right on the end there, I think. So that looks safe at least for now. Yeah. That looks heaps better. You can see that it cracked along there and the bees are actually already cleaning and joining that crack back up again.

Bianca:

We could even take that honey frame, but we won’t today cause it's still nectar. So in a bit, I would be inclined to, when that's capped with honey that's ripe for consumption, then we could take that honey. As long as there's enough honey upstairs in the Flow super.

 

What lens are you using Mirabai?

Mirabai:

I use two different lenses, but the lens I'm using today is a prime macro lens from a company called Moment. I'll show you here. So it's a lens that clips onto the case. Just twists off like this. And most likely when I'm filming bees, I'll almost always use the slow-motion setting on the Apple app. And so let's see if we can get a nice shot of a little bee here doing something cool. There's also another company called Ztylus that do a a type of lens that flips out on the back, which I have on one of my other phones. But I find this lens that nicest. See, I can see all the little hairs all over her body. Oh, that's so cute.

 

Can you harvest honeycomb from the Flow Hive? If you take some of the honeycomb, would you just put an empty frame back?

Bianca:

The intention for this was just to manage this frame. You generally would never take honeycomb out of the brood box. That's just a general rule because this is their space and it's relative to how much honey stores you need at the time of year in your location, what honeycomb you take can take out. But with the Flow, you can have a Hybrid Flow super, which allows you to harvest honeycomb and Flow honey from the one super. So that's a great option, but from here generally, no. 

 

Mirabai:

But you can. So that's with every two beekeepers, there's three opinions. So this is yet another example. Well, yes, in times of excess, in times of strong nectar flow where the colony storing lots of excess honey, definitely. And sometimes they can get honey bound. If there is a frame on the edge that is capped, you can remove that honey.

But like Bianca said, you know, this is their space. So you wouldn't want to be taking honey stores from their brood box late in the season. So you really need to get to know your local season and the biggest part of being a beekeeper is learning how to manage this space and these bees to give them what they need to thrive. And then they can store excess honey in your super. And if you're lucky, you get to have some sweet bonus of the honey reward, but actually the beekeeping part of it is the most rewarding and fascinating part actually.

 

The bees are so calm. What type of bees are they?

Bianca:

They’re obviously Apis mellifera, which is the European honeybee. But then in Australia where we are, we've got different strains of that, such as Caucasian, Carniolan and ligustica - which is Italian. And I think the Italians are generally more orange. I believe these ones are potentially Caucasian, but they could be a blend. 

 

Mirabai:

Yeah. I would say, in our apiary here it’s probably a bit of a blend. We do try and keep quite docile bees, because we've got neighbours. We don't want to have aggressive bees, but also, you know, part of working with the bees is listening to them. You know, when we were first trying to get that super off, when we lifted some of the brood frames you could hear the noise they made, they got angry and annoyed. And then we use that bit of extra smoke that calmed them down and we just sort of let them sit a bit. 

But yes, some bees are incredibly aggressive, especially in parts of America where there's Africanized strains. I have done some beekeeping in a full suit and filming once with Africanized bees, gloves, everything. And there were about 50 bees pinging off my face constantly. So they do vary wherever you go. So never assume that a hive is going to be gentle. But we know these hives well, we work with these hives a lot. 

 

Bianca:

And they feed  a lot on the way you are your energy in the hive. If you've got erratic, sharp movements, they respond to that, they’re like “eh, get away from us!” But if you're gentle and calm on a nice sunny day, they’re generally always so kind and sweet. 

 

Mirabai:

That's true. And you and I both have to kind of be very conscious of our movements when you're working without gloves. And I know Fred said, we've got rings, what if we get stung? I don't actually swell very bad.

 

Bianca:

I've been stung hundreds of times, but it doesn't really bother me, I just don't react anymore. But that can go the other way for some people. So yeah, you've just got to be really careful, safety first. It's inevitable to get stung and you can't expect not to get stung if you go gloveless. 

 

And if you do have a cranky hive, can you do anything about it? 

Mirabai: 

You can requeen. When a hive gets, some people call it a hot hive. When a hive is consistently being very aggressive over a number of like times or inspections, then the beekeeper can often choose to requeen. So you find the queen in that hive and remove her and then introduce a new queen from a queen breeder that breeds good genetics. Hygienic, docile, honey-producing bees hopefully.

 

Hive beetles

Mirabai:

So that's all looking great and they've started filling the super. We could have a peek in one of the Flow Frames once we put that back on. 

Oh, look, small hive beetles. There's one, there's one I just squashed. So the bees can't actually kill them, but they do try. They herd them into areas like this on the top where they make these little propolis kind of cages almost. And they keep them up there to kind of manage them. 

Bianca:

They keep them in that little area and then that prevents the hive beetle females from laying eggs in the comb, which is what actually causes the most damage. That's what causes a slime out, which is where a colony will eventually abscond, the queen may be lost and you lose your colony toa slime out. And it's gross to clean up. 

The best defence against the hive beetle is just a really strong colony, so they can manage it themselves. Also utilising the tray with oil, so the bees will actually push the beetle through the grate. And then the way the beekeeper can manage that from the outside is just replacing this oil. Look, we've already got some dead ones. 

 

Mirabai:

So the hive beetles fall into the oil and drown. So that helps your colony manage. So everything we do is to kind of help and assist our colony function the best it can. 

Well, we can see that there's no honey yet on the ends, but there's lots of bees up there. So they have started working the Flow Frames

 

Bianca:

And I could feel it, it was super heavy. 

 

Mirabai:

So you lifted it up before and it definitely has some honey stores happening in there. So just like a regular brood frame, you lift one end with the hook on your J-tool and then always take the window off. And you can actually, there's another lever point just under the Flow Frame here. Also, you can lever onto the Flow Frame there. So now I've loosened that up. Oh yeah. Instantly feel that this frame is almost full of honey. Wow. 

 

Bianca:

So this is all capped honey, this is uncapped honey. See its nectar glistening on its way to being capped. The bees will start in the centre of the hive and work their way out. So it may look empty on this side, but if you open it up, you will actually find that that's actually full of honey. But I wouldn't actually harvest this yet. 

 

Mirabai:

No, it's not quite there, but it's pretty close.

 

Why wouldn’t you harvest it yet?

Bianca:

Because, say for example, if you only put your key in this far, honey could be pushed out of these uncapped cells here. And that is a nectar, it's not quite honey. So it's still got a too-high moisture content, which means that your honey could potentially go bad before you'd like. Where if you harvested perfectly capped honey, that's perfectly ripe honey that the bees have withdrawn the right amount of moisture around 18 to 20%, depending on the nectar source. And that means you've got perfectly ripe honey generally means that it will last forever.

 

So if you harvest too early and there’s too much water content, then your honey starts to ferment?

Bianca:

Yeah that’s right. You could feed it back to your bees, but not in this context where they've got plenty of honey. 

 

Mirabai:

You can see there’s a nectar flow on, the bees are doing great, the brood is doing well. We've got all stages of bees and they're storing excess honey. If the nectar flow continues, it won't be long until this hive is ready to harvest. 

 

How much honey stores do you need to leave in the hive for winter?

Mirabai:

It's interesting here. We actually, through the summer months can often have this sort of rainy, wet weather where we don't actually get that strong nectar flow. And then during the winter, especially down at my brother Cedar’s place, we actually get a winter flow happening. And so we really don't have what you would call winter here in the Northern rivers. We're in a subtropical climate. So we are really fortunate in terms of keeping bees that we don't get those winter months, which lots of you do.

I was living in Germany for the last few years and keeping bees and wintering them. And I learned a lot about you know, you do really need to make sure you build up your honey stores for winter because when they ball down in winter, they eat those honey stores and they vibrate their wing muscles, disengaging the wings to keep the hive warm.

So they're called heater bees. And those bees go to the outside of the ball to keep the rest of the colony warm. And they take turns, kind of in rosters, they work to the outside. And so they need those honey stores to stay alive. 



Bianca:

I'd like to talk about this. So here, we've got an arc in the middle where it's uncapped. This is generally because the bees leave this spot in preparation for the queen to lay. Because the queens actually naturally lay in a sphere shape in the centre of the hive as that's the warmest area. So then by default, the bees actually leave this space waiting for the queen to lay eggs, just in case. She can't because there's a queen excluder in there to prevent her from laying up here. But then the bees will still sometimes do this. I find it that it depends on the colony. 

But so this is actually another reason just to be super safe before you harvest, to actually have a look inside your super, to know which frame is ready for harvesting. Because if you did, for example, put your whole key down this at the one time and harvest it, that could actually cause a bit of leaking through that uncapped arc, which is a bit dangerous. But it's always a good idea when harvesting to harvest incrementally and slowly. So for example, put your key in a third of the way down, turn, wait for that to slow down and then put it down another third. Just to manage the honey a bit more and prevent any harm for the bees.

 

Do you always check the super before harvesting, or do you just look through the end window?

Bianca:

As a beginner beekeeper, yes, 100%. 

Mirabai:

Because you have to learn to know your bees and you have to learn to know the season and the times when the nectar is abundant. 

Bianca:

And as an experienced beekeeper, you can actually gauge a lot more of that from just looking at the front of your hive and understanding the activity at the front, which is indicative of the inside. Yeah. But for me, it's just with experience. You don't have to, but as a beginner, it's just really good to be super careful because you can't assume anything really. There's so much to learn in beekeeping and every colony is different. Every location is different, subjective to climate, flowers available, so many variables. So that's why you can't have one answer for everyone. So your answers for your colony could be completely different to someone who you've spoken to what their recommendations are. So it's about your own personal learning journey and learning from others in order to make the correct decisions for your colony.

 

Do you recommend people doing beekeeping courses and joining clubs? What is the best way to learn if you don't have a mentor?

Bianca:

Yeah, so a mentor is the best, most effective and efficient way I find, because that is local to your beehive and experience. But if not, then your local bee club or association is probably the next best place, because you've got experienced beekeepers there. And you're also learning with other beginner beekeepers. So you can, you can learn from them and it's a very inclusive environment where you can learn from others. But you do get a lot of different opinions from all different beekeepers, which is the culture of the industry. I like to blend everything, so online learning with clubs, face-to-face support. Because it's quite daunting to open up a hive and know what you're actually looking at.

 

Mirabai: 

But we have TheBeekeeper.org, which is a great online resource. It's not just beginner beekeeping, but also has experts from around the world to share their knowledge. So definitely check that out. 



Fanning pheromones

Mirabai:

And so I wanted to show you, this bee here is fanning. And I think we can see she has the end of her abdomen tilted down and she's actually fanning with a nasonov pheromone. So the gland is releasing a pheromone and she's fanning into the air telling her fellow bees, this is home, come back here because we've opened them. Oh. And she just stopped. And you can kind of see it from this angle better. Just on the end of the abdomen there. 

Bianca:

So do they share the same pheromone? I guess they would because they're from the same queen. 

 

Mirabai:

Yeah. I think they all keep up the same pheromone. 

 

Bianca:

And that's how they identify themselves to the guard bees. The lady guards at the front, they'll actually sniff all the bees coming in. And if they smell a bit funny, or not familiar, they’ll actually wrestle them and tell them to go away. That's the guard bee’s job. Another female role, to protect the hive. 

 

How long before the super will be ready to harvest?

Mirabai:

It just really depends if there's still a strong nectar flow going on. It's not hugely strong at the moment. So I would say probably a number of weeks. So my friend's colony, which is just about 30 minutes drive from here, she's been harvesting and in two weeks the frames have been full again.

So they've been on a really strong nectar flow. So it all depends. You know, it's about the health of the colony, the nectar flow that's around, the time of year. So this, they could run out of nectar flow and just stop filling it. 

 

Bianca:

But yeah, it's about what's flowering. So, you know, I had frames replenishing in about a week in the start of spring and now they've totally slowed down. I haven't harvested for about six weeks, and that's just seven kilometres down the road.So it’s very local.

You've just got to open your eyes and look for what's flowering and the biggest resources for flowers are big flowering trees. And sometimes the flowers can be so small that you don't even notice that a tree is flowering, like a big gum. But as you're a beekeeper, you start to observe and look at these things, you start noticing different things. 

 

Mirabai:

That's one of the cool things, you walk around looking up at what's flowering, what’s available for your bees.  

 

Bianca:

And you want to do the waggle dance to tell them where it is! 

 

Mirabai:

Anyway, so yeah. Thanks, hope you learned something, and it was fun taking over.



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