The cloth did work to a point, but there were bees on top of the cloth when we opened the hive on Monday evening. The bees were also tired of being messed with at that point. They decided that I was the target of their wrath. Just a small aside, if you decide to work with bees and you have long hair, make sure it is pulled back TIGHTLY. If they manage to find a way under your veil they will get caught in your hair. It is difficult to make sure stingers are out when they are in your scalp surrounded by hair and it is really difficult to get the poor dead bees out of your hair in the shower Scalp wounds also hurt, not as much as 3 tightly grouped stings on the eyebrow, but they hurt just the same.
So, after I ran cursing across the yard shedding clothing as I went, not one of my best moments I'll admit, we realised we needed plan C. I was mulling it over the next morning as I iced my face, the biggest issue is that the 'bars' from the nuc don't fit snuggly into the hive like the regular bars do. Even with the cloth on top of the bars the bees are able to get around it. Putting a solid top over the bars would make the hive really hot and stress the bees too much. However, if we could find a way to fix a solid surface over the area where the two nuc bars are, we could function until the bees work their way over and build new comb on the other regular bars.
We reached a compromise, Gary cut a board about six inches wide and the same length as the regular bars. He and Reiley placed this board over the cloth covering yesterday. Gary had a peak under the cloth and reported that the bees were filling in the space around the bars and the cloth but were not laying foundation on top of the cloth. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see the board go in. I decided that trying to fit the board with only one eye functioning, and hence no depth perception was not the best plan ever.
The good news is that Gary and Reiley were able to place the board quickly and with minimum disturbance so the bees stayed calm. I am going to take the top of the hive on Saturday just to check, and I'll take a couple of pictures then. So, what have we learned? If I ever need to convert a Langstroth nuc to a top bar hive again, I will cut the comb completely from the frame and use a large needle and some baler twine to attach the comb to a regular top bar. It is slightly more disruptive to begin with but if I can prevent the disruption that we have caused the bees this week it is a no brainer.
So ends lessons learned on the homestead this week. Have a good day everyone, I'm off to ice my face again.