This week’s flashback Friday takes us back to a lovely afternoon in early July! Both our senior beekeeper, Mehreen, and junior beekeeper, Liam, made a trip to our rooftop apiary to check on a few hives. Gerry, a researcher on our 3D printing team, and I accompanied them as well.
We visited Hive 6 and Hive 11, which you can see on our live Bee Cam and on the diagram below.
Mehreen, Liam and Gerry conducted the usual beekeeping routine: seeing how much brood, pollen, nectar and honey each frame contained in a super!
The bees were well, and no one was stung!
Liam and Gerry smoke the top of the supers, causing the bees to fly off or crawl back onto frames. This provides the ideal space needed for beekeepers to grasp each frame and inspect it.
Summers in the District can get quite hot, ever-increasing the overall temperature of the hive, so bees spill out of the entrance and relax on the sides of their home.
Here, a group of bees clumps together, on the side of a hive,
and others prefer to settle on empty frames that we have readily available to place into hives.
Still, other bees crawl all by their lonesome, not straying far from their sisters.
The pictures I took on this day, July 6th, are some of my favorites, for I had the opportunity to photograph glimpses of honeybee life that I had never witnessed before. I was able to see honeybee funeral rites being performed,
in which mortuary or undertaker bees (‘mortuary/undertaker’ being a subcategory of worker bee occupations) clean and prepare a deceased worker bee to be removed from the hive. Honeybees want to use all space available at all times, living in a “waste not, want not” society, so removing the dead bees allow for more space for the living. They also want to prevent other bees from becoming sick or infected, in case illness or mites had a hand in killing their sister.
We also had the opportunity to see the queen, as regal as ever among her subjects!
Although her royal court (a group of worker bees that attend to the queen’s every need) was not immediately surrounding her, they were not too far away.
Unfortunately, the afternoon’s heavy dark clouds eventually gave way to the immense amounts of water they were holding, and the four of us retreated to the lab, finished with our work for the day.
We hope you enjoyed this peek into our beekeeping activities, and remember to look out for more updates from our apiary here at GWU! Thanks for reading, and we hope you have a bee-utiful Friday!