Thursday, September 17, 2009

Inspection report: This one gets TWO thumbs up!

So as everyone knows, I was on vacation for a little over a week, and returned this past Sunday. Since it had been two weeks since I'd ventured inside my hive, I decided to get out and perform an inspection on Monday. I would have done it on Sunday, but after being on the road and fighting Interstate 40 traffic, I made what was left of Sunday as a day of rest. But I had to see just how the girls were doing, the curiosity was getting the best of me.

Monday came and after firing up the smoker, I suited up and headed for the hive. As I approached, I noticed the in-and-out traffic was rather slow, but I figured that since it was a cool day in the 70s, maybe they just decided to take their time and wait for the sun to go a little higher...then venture out. Turns out I was right.

Three to four puffs -- that's all it took -- and the hive tuned up like a well oiled machine. It was a steady, almost happy buzzing coming from inside. Honestly, in the four months I've had this hive, I must admit that the hum from the hive was the smoothest I'd ever heard. Not a panic kind of hum, but an almost serene kind of hum. It was music to this beekeeper's ears.

I took the hive top off and looked into the top chamber. As you can see, there were very few bees on top of the frames -- that's because by the time I got the camera out, they had scurried down unto the box. If you click the picture, you can see the little heads peering at me from inside -- and even though this is the honey box, they were not defensive whatsoever...matter of fact, they were rather laid back. I pulled out all of the frames, checked them quickly, and put them back. Most of the frames were filled with honey with the exception of the two wall frames, but they were working on those too, drawing comb on them. As hard as they're working, I feel like even those will be filled over the next few weeks. I think this colony's winter store is coming along rather nicely.

After prying apart and lugging the heavy honey box to the side, I got into the brood chamber, the one that seems to house most of the eggs and larvae in this colony. The first thing I noticed when I pulled a few of the center frames was that her majesty had indeed been busy while I was away. I did find eggs, but I found lots of capped brood too...brood just waiting to break through the seals of their cells and come into the new world. Larvae was there too...but I found capped brood all throughout the chamber. For a queen that almost "bought the farm" a few weeks ago, she sure was chugging along now like nothing ever happened. 

Take a look at this frame. This is one of the frames from the lower brood chamber, one of the few frames that has this much honey in it. Most of the other frames in this chamber have brood, but for some reason (and they know more about it than I do) -- they decided to load this one down with honey. But take a good look in the middle -- at the capped brood. Apparently the girls were so slow in filling up this frame, her majesty decided to put some brood in there for good measure, and in a consistant pattern too. I was almost tempted to put this frame in the top box since it had so much honey in it, but I decided that not breaking up the brood nest was the better option, so I left it alone.

Now as you can see in this picture, it is packed with bees. I started to do a "shake" so I could get a better picture of the capped brood and larvae, but it was covered with nurse bees tending to the bambinos, so I couldn't bring myself to do it. But this frame was heavy, not from honey (you can see a small amount at the top) -- but from all the bees crammed on it -- both sides jammed packed. After checking this and all the other frames, and scraping off the burr comb on the tops and bottoms, I gently put them back and closed everything back up. I put the hive-top feeder back in place with two gallons of freshly made sugar syrup, and headed back for the house. Everything looked fine.

On Wednesday afternoon, I noticed a frenzy of activity in front of the hive. Besides the large amount of bees flying all in front of the hive and going in and out, I noticed a steady stream of bees crawling up the front of the hive, taking off in wide circles straight up -- then flying off in all directions. It looked like some of the new hatchings were making their way into the new world and checking it all out.

As for now, I plan to leave the hive alone for two weeks other than feed it. Then around the first week of October, once some of the really warmer September days are over with, I plan to install the mouse guard and switch over to a 2:1 sugar syrup and feed them till they stop taking it. At the rate they've made honey and stored it in the top chamber, I don't think they'll take the sugar syrup for long before they cluster. We'll see though.

Inspection done. Report card shows all A+'s and two thumbs up (for good measure)...

Bee good, everybody!


  1. Really excellent! You must be relieved to see everything looking so healthy. Go to the top of the class!

    P.S. do you have any plans to increase your number of hives next season?

  2. Your frames look really nice. My bees have slowed down quite a bit too, but still working asters, sedum and goldenrod coming up. I'm feeding a nucleus hive trying to help them along...

  3. Mark, your frames of bees look awesome and very healthy. You must be proud :)
    I agree about not breaking up the brood area - as the days get cooler they'll need to cluster over the brood to keep them warm.

  4. Cliff: Yep, I plan to split this hive in the spring if they do okay over the winter. And there is the possibility that I may add some new hives to a friend's farm property. He offered to allow me to put them there, and I want to go out and look it over. Who knows..I may be hive crazy by next summer!

    Beau: Thanks, my friend! The weather here is really fickle, it was 80 today, supposed to be in the upper 60s this weekend, and hot and humid and rainy next week. My colony is going to be so confused about the seasons.

    Barbara: Thanks for the compliment on the pictures. And yes, I couldn't break the brood. If that group is long gone from that frame of mostly honey on my next inspection, I may move it up to the honey box, but for now, that frame stays put.



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