After a while of faffing about, it warmed up and the bees were starting to move about so I decided to get on with it.
My plan of attack (hmm poor phrase maybe) was to open the hive, inspect through the frames, and then move frame at a time across to the new clean hive, scraping the frames off as I transferred them, then squirting them with hiveclean so they would clean themselves off.
Well that was the plan anyway, from the start I was seeing the signs that things were no going to go smoothly. The bees were agitated and just taking the fondant off the top of the frames resulted in my first sting (right hand, middle finger, just below the fingernail), “and verily, there was much cursing and smoke and hoping about’. I think they were not ever so pleased at me removing their easy source of food; probably didn’t help it was stuck to the frames and they were feeing on it at the time. Things not to do next time, don’t use plastic sandwich bags that disintegrate when you try to pull them off.
So having already upset them, well I figured I’d calmed them with more smoke, and I’d brought all this stuff, and one sting was not so unusual; I carried on.
I started inspecting, and straight away I knew things had advanced. The first frame that had not been pulled out all the way had uncapped wet honey (/nectar) in it. The second was well capped honey and some uncapped. The third was full to the brim with stored pollen, edge to edge, top to bottom of lovey fresh yellow pollen. The 4th, well this was all honey stores on wednesday, but now it was arched by capped honey but full with approx 4 day old lavae.
This was time for my second whoopsie of the day, caused in parts from boiling over bees, the throbbing of my finger (swollen down the full length by now) and my worst enemy in beekeeping, impatience! To cut a long story slightly shorter, I didn’t wait for the bees to clear and dropped a lug right on top of a bee, squish! Well you can guess what happened next… immediate angry buzz buzz buzz, sting !! This time to the back of my left hand. As I try to complete the write up of this story two days later (now I can use my hand without pain), the swelling is starting to go down. I don’t know why it was so bad from just one sting, but I think it got a vein or something because one tiny tiny stinging needle managed to draw blood.
Anyway with two stings I was getting more than a little perturbed, so I stepped back and went to the car to listen to some nice classical music… and…. relax… and let the bees… calm… down…
The next 5 frames were brood as they had been, but in adition to the speckles of drone brood across them there was a big patch in the bottom corner of one (about the 3rd one if I recall correctly). They had also started brace comb along the bottom, which isn’t normal for them, they must have been really short on space. They had brood in the next frame which I had expected to see as they were expanding.
I came to the last 2 frames in the box, the ones I had long planned to swap out because one had been built up too much and the other had not been pulled out enough, making a convexed concaved pair that were always going to be a pain to move about. The 1st of these had always been very heavy with capped honey top to bottom. Let me tell you, a commercial frame, and one that had been built out 40% deeper than it was meant to me, full of honey, is very heavy; and I am no lightweight, this was a LOT of honey.