high summer

we've hit a blissfully cool spell this week- yesterday's highs were in the 70s, today's, low 80s.  So it was a very good time to suit up (and I'm so glad that I did!) and go into the beehive to fix some messy situations I'd observed from the window and then a big huge mess at the front of the hive.  Top bar hives are supposed to be REALLY good for the bees.  More like natural cavity hives, good for bee health and population growth.  Not so good for honey harvest, because sometimes the combs are built in a crossing, intersecting pattern, especially if they are near full honeycombs that are big and fat, broaching into territory that is meant for other combs.  So I knew I had work to do.

In the photos below, you'll see a straight, perfect comb.  The hive was full of these.  And next to it, a bowl of uncapped honeycomb that was built perpendicular to its surrounding combs.  I cut these out and preserved the straight combs.  There was one section that had 3 honeycombs fused together at the back of the hive.  I left those and marked them so I'd know not to move them, but could let the bees eat them.  After I removed the crossed combs and combs that were fat on one end, skinny on the other, I alternated these straight combs with empty bars to encourage the bees to build new straight combs.  One doesn't really reason with bees, but this was my attempt.  The uncapped honey doesn't keep but ferments easily, so I will either use this immediately (ice cream?) or give it to a friend who makes mead.

Above, you see the brood comb.  I was happy to see lots of larvae, capped brood, and eggs.  I checked three frames but didn't go back further than that.  There was plenty of cleanup at the front, some of which I harvested, some of which I set aside for the bees to clean up and reuse.  Lastly, you see my half-gallon jar, filled with chunks of capped honey, which I then crush and strain.  The cleanup at the front of the hive was quite intense, and the bees were less than happy with me.  I was grateful that I'd accidentally ordered a full suit instead of just a jacket.  They were ready to sting, but so far, the suit's kept me sting free.

My garden is going- tomatoes coming in.  Ajax enjoys the unripe roma tomatoes a little too much (he, incidentally, is never allowed to be outside while I'm working with the bees.  He is curious and looks too much like a small brown bear for his own good), and the yellow pear tomatoes have all succumbed to wilt.  I have pulled them out and will replace them with pole beans and cucumbers for the rest of the season.

Later this week I'll show you a) pitchers and b) a tile project I've been working on in preparation for the first city-wide Coop Tour in Memphis.
Have a lovely week and a happy Independence Day, friends!