Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hives - Day 19 Check

Blow these pics up for great details
Confession:    I was really tempted just to give you a couple of nice pics, brag that we found both queens and loads of capped brood and leave it at that.  

The truth is, I did just about everything wrong this time that I could.  Yep.  Pretty much I demonstrated that I have no bee finesse yet at all. 

At All. 

I felt like a bull in china shop.  Plus we were fighting the camera with veils and gloves.  Nothing went right.  Geez.   I should rename this part of the blog:  Rurification: We make stupid bee mistakes so you don't have to!

One thing - this time Eric started the smoker with a torch.   It totally worked!  Thanks, you guys at Beemaster!   A bunch of you said to fill it, torch it, pump the bellows like crazy, get a good flame, then put something on top [I used a skein of scrap yarn].   We had a charcoal briquet, some sumac berries, a bit of toilet paper and toilet paper roll, and some cardboard it in from previous attempts to light the blasted thing when Eric torched it this time.   We had plenty of great cool smoke for the whole inspection.   Woo-hoo!    Now I just have to learn how to use the torch all by myself.  

Anyway.   Here's the awful truth about how things went today.  

We opened the Tardis hive first, and the first thing I saw was burr comb.  Drat!  And this had been the hive that had great comb with no problems last time.   

We investigated and long story short,  when we put splines in the top bars, where the foundation is supposed to go, we put them in too low and the bees built off to one side instead of straight down the middle.  

LESSON:  If you use splines, leave only 1/16 inch or less showing.    We moved all the rest of the splines up so that they barely showed in the empty frames and on any that we had to do repairs on.

The bees were unhappy when I started messing with the frames and I really wanted to see how our repairs from last time worked before I did the same thing on the Tardis, so we closed that hive up and went to look at how the Flower Lang was doing with the repairs we had done on it. 

Remember that little comb on the frame with the double comb?   We repaired it by putting it in a frame with rubber bands.  It had come out anyway and was lying in the bottom of the hive.   And those rotten bees had built another little comb on the frame where we had taken the first one off.   Erg.  And they had built up the place on the other side that I had carved down. 

Really, what was I thinking?  I was nuts to think that they wouldn't.  

LESSON:   Cut out those burr comb bumps, don't carve them down and expect them to not come back.   This means I might have to wait until the comb is attached well enough to support it even if it's missing a bit of the center section.  Next time I'm going to carve it down a bit further for a few weeks until there's a lot more comb attached to the sides.   I'll keep moving the new [soft] comb to the center.  Then I'll cut out the bump out completely.

The next stupid thing I did was tilt a frame over on its side when the comb wasn't fully attached.  It was full of honey and brood and broke right off.   Dumb, dumb, dumb.

LESSON:  Don't tilt the frame until it's fully attached at all sides.  Better yet, don't tilt the comb at all.

It took a while to repair, and the temp was only in the 50s, so there's a good chance some of the brood got chilled.   Chilling the brood could kill it or cause deformities.   Another dumb mistake.  I wish I had realized that before I got done with the inspection.

LESSON:  Don't mess with the bees on chilly days.   Don't take out the frames.  Stay inside and read about bees and stupid beekeeper mistakes instead.

In all, in that hive, we had to repair 5 frames of comb.   I tried to leave the bees on the comb while I worked, but that wasn't always optimal for my concentration or their safety. 

When we got to the last frame, next to the wall that they had put burr comb on before,  we found that they had attached this comb it to the wall again with just a couple of inches of burr, but no extra comb on the wall this time.  And they had done a very interesting patch around to the comb in the frame.   It had sagged a bit in the center, so I centered it.  I have no clue whether it will work or not.

The good news about this hive is that we found lots of capped brood and a bit of capped honey.  And we found the queen.   We knew she was there, but it was nice to be able to spot her.    She's large and gorgeous.

When we were done, we scooted the frames together and closed it all up and moved back to the Tardis.   Lily came out and took over the camera while we were looking at this hive.   She took these last pics.

The Tardis had some comb on 8 of the frames, nowhere near full frames, but still lots of comb.   And plenty of capped brood!    We didn't see any capped honey in this hive.  

We did find the queen in this hive, too.   This makes me really, really happy, because I want to be a good queenspotter. 

And also, truth be told,  I felt like spotting the queen was the only right thing I did in this whole inspection. 

This hive had that one frame with a bit of burr comb on it.   I decided to just cut that section out completely and adjust the soft outer edge to the center.   We put rubber bands around it to support it just in case something happened after we closed things up.    I hope it works.

If some of you experienced beeks are so disgusted that you want to take my bees away, I wouldn't blame you.   So far, I've been a pretty pathetic beekeeper. 


  1. Well, keep learning from those mistakes. With this comes wisdom! =) So were they bumping you a lot because it was cold out or could you just tell from the hum that they weren't too happy?

    1. Hi Mark! They were mad that we were messing with the brood. Plenty of head butting in the veils. I'm glad I had my face covered! Could definitely tell by the buzz, too. No mistaking it.

  2. I'm guessing when you had K1, you didn't know exactly what to do and made some mistakes. K1 turned out pretty good! So will your bees. I know nothing about bees or Ks but I suspect I speak the truth! Hang in there!

    1. Murph! Thanks for that. You're right, of course. The most experienced beeks say to get things where you can just leave the bees alone and they'll take care of things quite nicely without us bothering them.

  3. As Mark and Murphala said, there's a first time for everything we do and we learn from our mistakes. If i were in your shoes, I'd not be able to take photos and document everything, that's for sure. Thanks so much for sharing all your experience, and yes, mishaps too, with us!

  4. Chin up, things will get better! I'm learning lots from your bee-escapades!

  5. Oh my gosh, honey. (no pun intended). You are much too hard on yourself. You are doing something regular mortals like me couldn't dream of doing. I'd've burned the whole thing down by now. And those Beeks you are comparing yourself to all had to be mediocre at it before they got good at it. The bees will forgive you and everything will be fine. Just like kids.
    You amaze me.

  6. Um. I'm not saying you are mediocre. Bad word choice. Let's change it to, "Those you are comparing yourself to had to make mistakes too, before they got good at it." Eep!

    1. Oh, I knew exactly what you meant. Thanks! I fear I have not yet achieved mediocrity with the bees, but I aspire to it. Then I've got my sights set on 'skilled'. One blasted repaired frame at a time.

  7. Thanks for the wonderful pics and sharing your experience's, I'm a new Bee-keep trying to learn anyway I can, what an incredible world it is. RLR

  8. Thanks for the post. You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web. Hives on Face

  9. Yes, I am enjoying these experiences as I've recently started beekeeping too. Thank you


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