Sunday, May 6, 2012

Inspection Weekend - 04-20/21-2012

Over spring break week we took a family trip to Washington, DC. We had never been there, and the boys had each done projects concerning one of the monuments there. We planned on being away for 3 days, but only spent 2 there. So we came back late Thursday evening. Having a Friday unexpectedly free gave me an opportunity to do a good inspection on all of the hives.

Pink Hive

I was worried about the Pink hive, since it lost about 1/2 of it's population due to starvation over the winter. The queen survived, and now it's her job to repopulate the hive. It's sort of like starting with a nuc, since that's about how many bees she started with.

Here's one of the frames showing her doing her job!

What's interesting about Pink is that the bees of that hive have decided to use the top entrance (the gap in the inner cover) instead of the bottom one. So I've got to make sure to leave the shim on so that the outer cover doesn't block the entrance. Maybe when there are more bees they'll start using the bottom one.

Green Hive

The Green Hive is my next most populous hive. There's a lot of activity coming and going with this hive.

Here's a view of a frame packed with pollen.

I was pleased to see this next frame. The white in each cell is a larva - this frame will be full of bees soon!

Here's another one already capped. Lots of bees!

The honey super of undrawn frames I put on the hive was untouched. I decided to see if I could get the bees to move up into it by taking off the queen excluder.

Brown Hive

Like the Green Hive, the Brown Hive is bringing in lots of pollen:

This frame has capped worker brood, but also some drone brood as well (the bullet shaped caps). Making drones is something each hive does to help with the furthering of the beehives in general.

A couple of weeks ago I put in a foundationless frame, and look what the bees have done - filled it out with wax completely! Amazing.

I took a cute picture of the bees lined up against the tops of the frames, looking up at me, all in a row!

This hive has the most bees of all 3 of my backyard hives. Here's a shot of the bottom chamber.

Sutton Hive 1

On Saturday I drove out to the 2 hives in Sutton. I still had the entrance reducers on these hives, which I took off that day.

This is the top of the bars on the top brood chamber. What is interesting here is that you can see a lot of wax that the bees had added in between frames, as well as on the top bars. The queen excluder was difficult to remove due to all the wax attached to it.

Ever since I installed this hive, they have been known to make "wonky" burr comb. By that I mean they add burr comb between the two boxes in whatever pattern they want - parallel to the frames, crosswise, curved, etc. It's actually hard to lift up the frames in the top chamber because they are "glued" to the bottom frames.

Here's a shot - you can see the all directions they built the comb:

I bought this hive without the queen marked. Last year I never did see her to snag her to mark her. But today I saw her, and now she sports the latest in fashion accessories - a dot (I used my orange pen because I didn't think to bring the correct color, which is white). At least now I'll have a good chance of finding her!

Sutton Hive 2

Hive 2 also is doing well, bringing in pollen:

A good frame full of capped brood!

Here's the bottom box - not much "wonky" burr comb - just a little between the frames. I've found the bees usually use the burr comb for drone brood, since they can select the size of the comb (the comb already in the frames is the worker size). Disassembling the hive destroys the in-between burr comb, so there are always a few drone casualties.

Here's one of the frames in the bottom box. You can see the half-circle pattern of brood. This is a good indication that the brood nest is spanning both boxes - that's what you want. The white is young larvae not yet capped.

Here's her majesty - with the white dot I added last year.

I left all of my hives (except the Pink Hive) with honey supers. We'll see if the bees will be kind to me or not this year...


  1. Everything is looking great, Steven! looks like the girls are well underway!

  2. Your hives look very good. There is no doubt in my mind that the bees prefer working the foundationless frames. They build those out first before even touching the wax foundation, let alone the plastic.

  3. Thanks. From a health point-of-view things are going well. But they need to start makin' me some HONEY!

    I haven't figured out what to do to encourage that...

  4. Steven,
    Beautiful foundationless comb. Did you put a type of starter strip? I'm wanting our girls to build out foundationless.

    Your hives are looking good!

  5. Steven, this is my first year beekeeping...I put a second brood chamber on top of my almost full bottom one (started with a package in March). But how do you inspect the bottom one now? Take the top one off and put it to one side?

  6. @WesternWilson - yes, exactly. Some people inspect the top chamber first; then remove it and set it aside (usually on top of the upside-down outer cover); then inspect the bottom chamber. Afterward they stack things back up the way they were.

    Others take the top chamber off, set it aside, and start inspecting the bottom chamber. Then add back the top chamber and inspect it. It's personal preference.

  7. @Mil - I glue craft sticks (like doctor's tongue depressors) in the slot, then put some melted wax on the edge.

  8. Steven,
    One could not ask for a better inspection than this! Here I worry about SHB and set up a hive out in the sun down the road and they have problems with wax moths. Stay watchful for swarms, we had a huge swarm last Sunday, no brood in that box right now...

  9. Great blog! I'm a newbie keeper in VA but hope to return 'home' to Dudley in several years once hubby can retire from the Navy... will be following your blog, as our winters here are quite different and it's going to be quite a change for us...

  10. Thank you for showing how to become a beekeeper in a natural way to us also in Europe, Denmark. We like your way of letting the bees build their cobm themselves.


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