Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Inspection

Three days after we installed the hives, we did our first hive inspections.    Our goal was to make sure the queens had been released and to get the cages out of the hives, so the bees don't make wonky comb around the cages.

This time we wore protective clothing, without gloves.   No sense taking any chances with bees that are going to start defending their hives against us.   I don't want to get pinged in the face. 

We looked at the Tardis hive first. [It's a Doctor Who reference.   We have a bowtie super and a Hello Sweetie super for this hive, too.  I know you whovians are are excited.] 

We opened the back window while we had to the top off.   The bees were clustering in the corner and back.  They love it there.

I pulled a couple of frames out and pulled the queen cage out.

So here's the thing.   Even though I'm trying to be all brave with no gloves, I'm pretty twitchy.   A bee landed on my hand and I jumped and dropped the queen cage back in the hive.   Which means I had to reach back in there and get it.

I did that with both hives.   Sigh.  

The bees were clustered at the corner and back.   Some clung to the frames as I pulled them out.   No action on top, so the queen was still hanging around the bottom.   And the bees were hanging around with her.

About 1/4 of the bees were outside the hive on the bottom of the screen.    Around the queen.

When I was done with the inspection, and I had the queen cage out of the hive, and the hive was closed back up, I spent some quality time with a bee brush and the smoker to get these guys out of the bottom.  I was SO glad to be wearing a jacket and veil.   They weren't happy!   But it'll be warmer inside and they needed to find the entrances.   [Next morning I came back and they were all inside]

This is what they looked like from the inside, looking back to the window.  

Someone told me once that each hive would have it's own personality.    I thought that was interesting, but it's really true.

The day after the install, there were a bunch of dead bees outside the flower lang hive.   Not too many outside the Tardis hive.    Either the lang has a neat freak queen or an abundance of young bees, whose job it is to clean things up.

The tardis hive was still full of dead bees at the bottom, on the screen. [pic, left]

Weird, huh.

We inspected the flower lang next.     

In this one, the queen cage was packed full of bees and very crowded with bees on it.    They did NOT appreciate being brushed off and piled back on immediately.  [pic below]
When I set the cage on the top of the frames, the bees inside started marching toward her.   I assumed she was still in there, so I set it back inside.

I went out the next day to take it out and it was still full of bees, but they didn't march.   I liberated the bees inside by gently prying the screen off with the prybar.

This time, the bees were festooning off the tops of the frames and the whole cluster was nearer the top of the hive.    I hope this means a motivated and hardworking queen.   

Next check in a week.   Then we'll see if they've drawn comb and if the queen is laying in it.   It's been cold, so I don't expect a lot, but some would be good.

I do go out everyday and peek in the window in the back of the Tardis.   I've seen some wild and crazy pollen baskets on a few of the bees.

Also, plenty of coming and going in the fronts.   I'm hopeful that we have two healthy hives. 


  1. You may be jumpy, but you're still a very brave woman in my eyes! I do love the Dr. Who references. K2 did a great job paining the hives, by the way!

  2. Why were there so many dead ones?? Is this normal?

    1. Bees only live six weeks or so anyway. If they're stressed on top of that, it's normal to lose some during transit. Not a big deal unless 1/3 of them are dead. We had relatively few, we thought.


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