Bee Happy!

My bees were inspected yesterday by David Packham, one of the local official Bee Inspectors. He checks hives regularly for signs of disease and is the kind of expert who can explain what he knows.
***
So there we were: the Cornish rain gods were havin\’ a laff, opening up the clouds for a bit of sun and then chucking down the rain; sun, rain, sun, rain! Wind. Rain! Sun! It was truly bonkers weather.
***
First he checked the hive belonging to the lovely lady who allows me to share her little apiary space, at the end of a garden stuffed with beautiful flowers. As she thought might have happened, they\’d swarmed and there were two sealed Queen cells, which look just like peanut shells stuck to the bottom of the comb. Lots of bees wandering around, no eggs. There was a virgin queen there, making a high-pitched piping sound too high for me to hear. That\’s so that her younger sisters will pipe back at her from their cells so she can go and sting them to death before they hatch and fight her. In the course of his inspection, despite the two umbrellas being held up by suited spacemen, I think it rained three times.
***
Then he looked at the first of my two hives – the one that wanted to swarm and which we did an artificial swarm from. I\’ve been worrying pointlessly about this one because the last time we looked, there were no eggs, no brood, no sealed brood. The only thing that reassured me was that the bees seemed quite happy: they make an anxious unhappy sound if they don\’t have a queen.
***
Tantara! They did have a Queen! There were eggs (very hard to see as they\’re about the size of white commas at the bottom of the broodcells), there were pearly white brood and there was sealed brood as well. She must have been in there last Friday and we just didn\’t see her.
***
Luckily one of the other Roseland group beekeepers spotted young Madame on the comb. David took his gloves off, picked her up gently and marked her with the Tippex I\’d brought along just in case. It was so deft and quick – I was amazed.
***
I put feeders full of syrup on both hives because the ghastly wet weather (here in drought-ravaged Britain) means there are hardly any flowers around for them to forage.
***
And off we went in convoy to see the next hives. Before we left I did my Yess! There\’s a Queen! Dance which I think might have frightened the other beekeepers a bit. But if the bees can dance, why can\’t I?

Bee careful

Now I\’m worrying about my bees because the weather keeps being warm and sunny and then pouring with freezing rain and then back to warm and sunny inside fifteen minutes. My bees are yellow-stripy Italians not black British bees, so they no wanna fly when itsa wet. British bees (naturally) fly through the rain, cos they\’re tough, mean, hard bees but they\’re quite rare now because they were badly hit by varroa (the sneaky UnBritish parasites!).
***
I can\’t go check them and feed them syrup because I\’m still not allowed to drive. I\’ll be watching them beeing inspected on Saturday and I\’m really hoping that the hive we took the swarm from will have a mated laying Queen. They seemed all right and not too unhappy when we looked at them last Friday, but I still worry.
***
Oy. Those bees.