Thursday, September 3, 2009

Inspection report: A box full of brood and a gold star for my queen!

Since I'm going on vacation, I decided to check on my colony to make sure everything was on task before I hit the road. Just yesterday, I noticed these tiny, fuzzy creatures sitting on the hive front, and I knew it was newly hatched baby bees. It was funny to watch them walking around, not really doing anything other than walking in and out of the hive. Every now and then one of the adult workers would come over and check them out, but otherwise, they just did their own thing.

So today I light up the smoker and decided to concentrate on the lower brood box. That's where I saw the eggs and larvae last week, so I figured that would be the place to go first. Once I gave the hive a few gentle puffs, I tried to take the top chamber off, and it was as heavy as lead. After getting my hive tool between the boxes, I was finally able to pry it apart and I sat it off to the side and began my work.

Without going into long details, let me say that her majesty has bounced back full force. While some of the frames in the lower deep held nectar and pollen, there were at least four middle frames with capped brood, and another was full of newly laid eggs. One side of a frame was jam packed with nothing but capped brood, and the other side was capped brood and larvae. So needless to say, she has made up for the time she stopped laying -- the time that almost called for her to be replaced with a new queen. Maybe she's trying to make up for being naughty?

I decided that I would check the top chamber while I had the hive apart, and I was surprised that about eight of the ten frames are pretty much drawn with comb...much of it filled with beautiful white capped honey. That's the reason the darn thing is so heavy, they've filled it up for the winter -- and might I say, doing a rather thorough job. I was thinking that I may have to feed them this winter, but if they continue to fill up the top brood box with honey, I may not have to feed until later in the winter, depending on how fast they consume their current stores. But I'm very proud of this colony and how hard they've worked, and I'm thankful my queen hasn't let me down.

By the way...funny story. I thought I would put the mouse guard on the hive since the weather is turning cooler, but in order to fasten it to the hive, I needed a tack which I didn't have. I decided to see how it works and if the bees could get in and out of it okay before I fasten it on.

After a few tries, most of them got right inside the hive -- but one poor girl, her pollen sacs were packed full, and she could not seem to grasp how to get inside. She got her upper body in the hole, and she fought and fought to get her rump inside, but it just didn't work. Then she flew off a couple of feet, eyeballed the hole -- and tried it again -- but it was the same thing all over again -- she got her head inside, but the rest of her body just wouldn't go. I decided to help her and pull the mouse guard off, and before I could get my hand on it -- boom -- she popped herself inside the hole. I felt sorry for the old girl, and I'm sure she wondered what the heck happened in the time she left home for work...who put that funky looking wall there? I'm going to give them one more week of a wide-open entrance, then I plan to put the mouse guard on for the fall. The last thing I want is some field mouse building her nest inside my hive. I love handling my bees...but mice? No way!

Like they used to do in elementary school for a job well done -- my colony gets a gold star for today's inspection. Can you tell I'm smiling?     


  1. Hi Mark,thanks for visiting my blog. I checked out your profile and see where you like going to old cemetaries - me to !! I. find them really interesting, they give you the history ( another of my passions) of the place and often have stories to tell. The best one I have been to was a small country cemetary in rural Victoria, Australia. It had not been used for many years and felt very isolated - just me and afew loud cockatoos. It was over-grown and un-loved, but had a strong feeling of the past about it. I like taking photographs in cemetaries - my kids all think I am slightly morbid !

  2. Nice one Mark! I have a huge smile after reading that. That's an extraordinary colony by the sounds of it. You've obviously the knack to be a very good beek!

    You'll be able to relax now as you head off to the surf...

  3. That's fantastic! I'm glad they are doing the right things. My hive hasn't got the word. The bottom brood box is almost empty, with lots of comb waitin' for the queen to get down there.

    I may do some frame adjustments this weekend.

  4. Hi Mark. I'm beginning to think there is no greater wonder in nature as a hive of bees doing what comes naturally to them - making honey. Your girls definitely deserve a gold star for their work. And yeah, that honey is heavy. I don't feel bad about missing a workout if I've been lifting frames filled with the golden stuff.

    My last beach trip was to Key West, 2 years ago. It's been a while since I've been to the NC coast. Spent many happy days at N. Myrtle. Hope you have a great trip!

  5. Whew eh?!!! They made it. I'm very glad to hear your queen is back from her Staycation in the hive and is now back to work :)



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