I did the weekly bee hive inspection today around 12:00. It was a very pleasant day - temperature about 70°F, and no wind to speak of. All week the bees have been very active, and I was anxious to see what they've been up to. Plus I wanted to make sure they still liked me (after the weed whacker incident!).
I was pleased to see the queen, and see that she has been very busy! There are a lot of eggs, larvae, and capped brood in the hive. Last week I had shuffled around a couple of frames to try to even out the hive - when I started the hive, the entrance reduced had the bees coming in the right side of the hive. They've concentrated on that side ever since, and that's where they build up first. So I've been slowly shifting things one frame at a time to try to get her to lay evenly (because at the other end were 3 ignored frames).
There's the 70% rule in beekeeping - when 70% of the frames have been drawn out as comb, it's time to add another later of frames. Well today, I judged that the top "super" had been drawn out 70%, so I added my first 'honey super' (the boxes are called "supers" after the Latin word for "above," since you add the boxes above the existing ones. But even the bottom boxes are called supers - go figure!).
If you look at the picture above you can see the hone super I added. It's narrower than the brood boxes for the main reason that a brood box full of honey weighs 100 pounds! I certainly don't want to be moving that around for inspections! So they make a shallow super where when full it "only" weighs 60 pounds. Also, if you look closely, you'll see a line separating the honey super from the brood boxes. That is a queen excluder - it's basically a grate (like a grill grate) where the bars are separated enough to let the workers through, but not the queen. If the queen can't get up there, she can't lay eggs in the honey supers, and the workers will only store honey up there (which is what I want).
I like to take at least one picture during each inspection, even if not much has changed. Here's an interesting picture:
The center of the frames shows some capped brood and empty cells (where bees have already come out). On the left of the picture (which would be the top of the frame), you can see in the corners some white wax - that is stored honey. Along the bottom of the frame (right of the picture) are some comb cells which are hanging down. Those are either queen cells, or just some wayward comb. I am going to keep an eye on them next week to see.
All in all they are doing great!