Monday, May 13, 2013

Hive Inspection #1

We hived our bees last Sunday.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning brought cooler weather and a lot of rain.  By Thursday afternoon, things warmed up and the glorious sun came out once again so late in the afternoon, we took a peek inside the hives.

Okay well, it was more than a peek- we did a full inspection.  I'm not sure this was totally necessary.  While beekeeping with top bar hives does require more looks inside/arranging of bars, it's also not the best to disturb the bees' work too often.  We're still feeling our way along...very carefully and with smoke, of course.

The reasons we wanted to see inside so badly were...

1) We wanted to see how much sugar syrup the bees were drinking.  Because of the cool weather, we thought they might be taking a lot.  We would need to decide if we were going to leave the syrup in, refill the jars or take them out.

2) We wanted to make sure the queens were still in both hives- fingers crossed and prayers uttered!

3) We were curious as anything to see if the bees had started building on the empty top bars.

Jamey donned his bee jacket and smoker and I my white baseball cap and clipboard.  And Sam (our trusty queen locator) followed us out.  The day before I made up a hive inspection checklist because I have become a BEE NERD.

There are so many things I wanted to remember to check on once we were in the hives and since my mind is a sieve I didn't want us standing around open hives with mouths gaping trying to think of what else we wanted to do/check for.  And a gaping mouth could lead to some pretty nasty stings seeing as I don't use a veil.

We were thrilled at what we found.  First of all, the bees didn't take much syrup.  In the upper hive, it didn't look like they drank any.  In the lower one, maybe a third of the quart was taken, so we just removed both feeders.  There are some sunny days in our forecast and we want to encourage them to eat their own home cooking instead of fast food.

Secondly, we know the queens are in there!  We couldn't find the queen in the upper hive, but there was evidence ALL over the place of her existence- eggs, eggs and more eggs.  In the lower hive, we actually spotted her and she was laying well, too.

Lower hive queen- a hair left of center

The bees had been busy building!  Below you can see their own handiwork on the top bars that were empty on Sunday- beautiful, clean buttery-looking comb.

The bars closer to the nest were more built up than the bars toward the back.  This is expected.

 The right side of this bar is a piece of a Lang frame screwed into the top bar that we wanted to save.  The bees are building up the left side on their own.

 Here's a peek inside the hive- look at how the bees make bee chains to get from one bar/comb to another even when we've made more space than usual between.  These creatures are amazing.

We did some rearranging of the bars and added some empty bars to each hive so the bees won't feel crowded and will continue to draw out comb if they like.  Last Sunday, we had 12 bars in the lower hive and now there are 15.  In the upper there were 10 and now there are 14.

We noted a few ants in one hive thanks to all the rain that overflowed our oil can barriers, so those were emptied of water and refilled with oil.  The bees were very tolerant of the inspection and we appreciate that very much.  Jamey only used minimal smoke and there were no stings.

If you're having trouble picturing what the bees (and their developmental stages) look like, here is a really helpful image I discovered on another beekeeper's page:

It was SO much fun to check on them, see evidence of the queens and to know they are busy building, caring for tons of brood and curing honey.  Now, our goal will be to keep our noses out for more than three days at a time and let them do what they do best.

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  1. What an interesting post. Thank you for sharing
    Phoebe x

  2. So cool!!! And I was wondering where you may have downloaded your check sheet...I should have known your organized self MADE it. are a bee nerd!! lol But I bet a lot of other people will want a copy of handy!! xo

    1. I'm not ready to recommend my checklist until I've used it awhile- I imagine it will need some tweaking as we gain experience:-). I wish I could invite you and everyone else over for our next inspection!

  3. I am SO happy for you. It looks like they feel right at home and are settling in to their new digs without a hitch! Congratulations!

  4. I know I wouldn't be able to keep my nose out of their business.

  5. Hurray! I'm so happy with you that things are going well. We are hoping to get ours this weekend ~ just in time since the beans and potatoes are about to start blooming!

  6. What good news! I love the bee nerdiness :) and I think you're wise to make a checklist.

  7. Are you familiar withe the blog Walden Effect? The blogger Anna is going through some interesting 'bee times' and I thought of you. I'm looking forward to reading more about your bees....and your garden! Robbie


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