Busy Bees

Posted on May 1, 2014

We hived our honeybees  just over two weeks ago and other than checking to assure that the queens left their cages, we haven’t opened our hives.  We’ve fed the bees sugar-water, watched them cruise in and out of the hives and observed them at blooms and bird baths.  Neighbors inform us that they’ve seen a definite increase in honeybees in their gardens, so we knew something was happening in our hives. Last Sunday, with excitement and trepidation, we opened our hives to check on our honeybees. We took the top off,


and heard the incessant bzzzzzz of activity.  I pulled up the back frame of hive #1 and was stunned!



There was fully formed comb in that bar and the next 4 bars!


In the first combs there is capped honey (the lighter yellow, toward the top left) and capped brood–larva (the darker yellow in the middle of the frames).  We also observed uncapped larva, eggs and pollen stores (the dark amber on the upper right side).  After only two weeks!!!  We were absolutely giddy!  We couldn’t believe  the bees had accomplished so much in such a short time.

Busy, busy bees!


We closed the first hive,


and added some more syrup for their dining pleasure.


Look at these little girls and their pantaloons.

Pollen pantaloons: that’s what I call them.  That’s not the technical term, but I like it.


We opened hive #2,




and observed the same conditions as  in hive #1: larva, eggs, capped brood, capped honey, pollen stores and happy, productive bees. In both hives, not all the bars have fully drawn comb, but all the bars have some comb.



Perfect comb.


We were so gobsmacked at what the bees accomplished in two weeks, that we forgot the look for the queens.  Considering the built comb and amount of brood, honey and activity,  we assume the queens are ruling their roosts and doing their queen things. So amazing are these bees.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word awesome as: Extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.

Except for the “fear” aspect, I think honeybees qualify as awesome.

The bees in hive #2 became a little annoyed at our amateur antics, so we closed the hive,


and logged our observations like good little beekeepers.


Meanwhile, back at the bar…


the honeybees regularly visit my bird baths, especially my blue bird bath.  No matter what time of the day, there are always some gals having a drink and socializing.  Sometimes, they’re drowning or drowned.  I rescue those I can, but there’s not much I can do about the others. Sniff.

They wiggle their butts when they drink.


We’re thrilled that our hives appear healthy and progressing normally.

Awesome is such an overused word,


but I think our honeybees are AWESOME!!!


  1. How cool. I can’t believe how much they’ve done in 2 weeks! I would recommend puting some big stones in the bird baths, that way the bees can climb out and not drown.

  2. Yeah, I have some ceramic “sticks” that I made and placed in the birdbath, though they’re still getting caught in the water. I think you’re probably right about the rocks–geez, like I don’t have enough to do already! I ‘ll go find some now, before I forget!

  3. Awesome indeed! If anybody needed an illustration of the appropriateness of the term, “busy as a bee” they need look no further. You and Bee Daddy can be quite proud – your charges are clearly thriving in their new homes. I can imagine your relief – it’s been clear you accepted the responsibilities involved very seriously. (One thing I never knew about bees? That there might be paperwork involved.)

    Sidebar: Pam at Digging showed some “bee balls” she’d seen in a shop – textured glass ball floats for ponds and birdbaths to help bees climb to and from the water level safely. Rocks work, though!

    • Bee Daddy–I love that!! (He’ll be thrilled with the nickname. :)) I placed rocks in the bird bath. I was reluctant because the birds…well they like to bathe there! But enough with the drowned bees! I’ve made some ceramic balls for other garden purposes, so when the summer semester begins, I’ll bisque-fire and glaze several for the, now, “bee-bar” I have other places for the birds to hang out.

    • Hi Steph–thanks for dropping in! It’s exciting and fascinating. So far, both hives are doing very well and I hope that will continue. Stay tuned….

  4. Hi Tina,
    Today one of the master gardeners at the Inside Austin tour was pointing out some gorgeous bird baths that were a little too deep for the birds’ use. She recommended adding some wine corks to deeper birdbaths so bees and butterflies could perch on the corks and drink as they floated around on the surface. I haven’t tried it yet but liked the idea.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    • Hi Annie–I like the idea of the corks floating about–I have a couple and will try that. I placed several rocks in the favorite bee bar and just returned from a weekend trip. No floaters!! Yay! So the rocks work well. I’m also going to make some ceramic balls and try that too. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Awesome Expose on the hives Tina.
    You are clearly not going with a prebuilt foundation in the hive.
    Are you using a Warre hive, or just using top bars on a lang?
    What is your “system?”

    I am using a home built (Does it look it???) top bar hive.
    We installed our package on May 13, But we will be checking them again today at day 11.

    One more thing, you said that bees are asweome, except for the “fear” part.. When I didn’t have anything but gloves on and a tee shirt, and I was installing the package, I think that version of awesome also fits. If you care, you can see my couple of bee videos at http://spotonfarm.com

    Speaking of checking on the bees, I would love to see an update, and Say Hi to Bee Daddy for me.

    • Thanks, Richard. Steven built the Warre hives from a plan he found online. We decided (at the last minute, actually) to use just simple top bars and we melted beeswax to give our little gals a place to start. Steven used untreated cedar wood for the construction. We’ve only checked them twice, but may check again tomorrow. We’ve stopped feeding them and two weeks ago, added another box because the bees had drawn comb on all the bars of the bottom box. They seem happy and busy and we’ve really enjoyed watching them in our gardens! Good luck with yours! I do need to post an update–sometime this week. Bee Daddy says ‘hi’ back

    • Look at you with you little busy bees. Oh man, I love that Kenyan top-bar hive. I wish we’d done that, though I like what Bee Daddy made for me, or rather, the bees. It is fun and aren’t they remarkable–they build the comb so quickly and perfectly. What are they collecting? In my gardens specifically, Heartleaf Skullcap, Coneflower, Zexmenia, yucca blooms, oh, all sorts of things, really, They’ve been visiting a neighbor’s cactus blooms and going wild–they’re all over it!

  6. Pingback: Bee Mama Missive, May 2014 | My Gardener Says…Edit
  7. Hello Tina. I’m Jeff from Houston. I heard about your gardening through Sheryl Roger’s blog. I devoured your info about bees. I LOVE BEES! What an undertaking! Keep up the good work. It’s all above my head and seems so tedious. I would attempt beekeeping but I ask myself if I could stay committed. I answer no. If you sell your honey please let me know.

    • Hi Jeff! Thanks for checking this little blog out! The bee thing has been very interesting, though a little stressful. We’ve made some mistakes, which set up a bit of a downward spiral–I don’t yet know if either or both of my hives are going to survive. That said, they’re still hanging out, gathering pollen and nectar and doing their bee things. Poor little things–there are so many invasive species that can wreck a hive, plus this beekeeper’s ineptitude and they’re still going strong. I’d encourage you to look into beekeeping. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s satisfying. I don’t have any plans to sell the honey collected; I can tell you it’s not like anything you could buy from the store. 🙂


2 thoughts on “Busy Bees

  1. Hi….love your bees…I put several rocks in each of my bird baths after finding honey and bumble bees dead. If they fall in they drift to a rock and can climb out. Also young birds like to stand on the rocks to dip in…just a thought… My yard is pollinator friendly and am adding more native wildflowers next season… Michelle


    • Hi Michelle, thanks for dropping by! I love my bees too! I placed rocks in all my bird baths–lesson learned after those initial days of hosting so many bees in my gardens. I’ll still find little bees, sadly drowned, from time-to-time, but not as many.


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