This afternoon we inspected our Purple hive to check on how the queen is doing and see if they need more space for either brood or honey. For the past few weeks I've been able to smell that they're making some very tasty honey (it smells like buttered popcorn) and we want to make sure that they have plenty of room to continue storing and curing nectar. I hope we'll be able to harvest some of that popcorn honey later this spring.
These bees are very calm and sweet. I love how they look up from between the frames.
This hive isn't too crowded but they are busy bringing in nectar. The queen is doing her job, and although the brood might be a little spotty for us to be entirely convinced that all is well. It could just be that she's back-filling cells from which young bees had emerged, and those cells might happen to be not in a contiguous patch. We did find the queen, and she's a big fat one. We were able to catch her in a little cage and put a little blue dot on her thorax. Her daughter, on the outside of the cage, could smell her mother and was very reluctant to leave.
The queen needs to be released back into the hive pretty quickly, as she depends on her worker daughters to be fed and kept warm. While it's always tempting to do something dramatic like release her in the front of the hive and watch her walk into the bottom, there's always a risk of her flying away instead of cooperating with the beekeeper. Or she could get snarfed by a bird. So we released her into the top of the hive and watched her crawl down between the frames. You can watch here:
See how the workers respond to the presence of the queen? They know that if she's there then all is well with the hive, and they quickly rush to surround and attend her. And now we'll be able to spot this queen more easily when we inspect the hive because of her blue dot, and if for some reason the workers decided that they need to supercede their mother, we'll be able to recognize the new queen because she won't be wearing a blue dot.