Monday, April 20, 2009
Well, today I did my first inspection of the hive. I installed my bees last Tuesday. I didn't bother the hive until now, except to make sure they had enough sugar syrup.
First comment: the weather. The books say "pick a nice sunny day, over 50F, with little to no wind." Well, today it got to the mid 40's, and there was a good clip of a wind. I had to do it today because it's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow, and I didn't want to wait too much time. I had left one of the frames out when I installed the bees, in order to leave room for the queen cage. I didn't want the bees to build too much burr comb in the extra wide spaces.
I got suited up, lit my smoker, and started the inspection. When I popped open the cover, what I was concerned about had happened: the bees had built a lot of free-standing comb in the spaces of the hive, and attached it to the cover and other places. The following pictures show what I saw (click to see larger versions):
There was probably enough free-standing honeycomb that would fill an entire frame, and a lot of it had sugar syrup in it (the bees were using it for storage). This is unfortunate because the energy and effort they expended to build the free-standing comb could have been spent drawing out the foundation of my frames (you can see in the picture at the top of this entry that they had started drawing out the comb on the frame, but not by much). So this probably put the bees behind about a week's effort. I used my trusty hive tool and scraped off the comb, and then I put in the 10th frame (I left out the frame to leave space for the queen cage). I also removed the queen cage, as the queen had been set free.
A couple of good things happened, though. One was that I didn't get stung!! I didn't feel the bees were too aggressive today. That could also be because the weather was a little chilly (and bees don't like to fly in chilly weather). The second good thing was that I saw the queen bee! She was running around one of the frames. So I know she is alive and well. I wasn't able to get a picture of her.
Since the comb I removed had sugar syrup in it, I left the comb at the base of the beehive so the bees could reclaim it and put it back into the hive:
One thing they mentioned very little in the books is how sticky working a beehive is! It was made extra so because I had to handle all the free-standing comb, and it was filled with sygar syrup, but not capped. So it leaked everywhere, and everything got sticky. But nothing a little warm water won't clean up.
The next inspection will be Saturday. Hopefully I'll see more comb built up, and maybe some eggs.
Update: I just noticed in the picture at the top, you can see some eggs! They are the little white slivers in some of the cells (visible against the black background of the foundatation). Yay! The queen is doing what queens are supposed to do!