One of the fun things about beekeeping for me is teaching others about bees. I have found many seemingly willing students. Or at least ones that feign interest while I blab on and on about the bees. I have also tried to get as many of these people as possible into the beehives. For this inspection, I was fortunate enough to have Byron be my guest beekeeper. It sure doesn't hurt to have an extra set of hands either!
My main concern for this inspection was to make sure the bees hadn't run out of room, since each hive consisted of only one box. At this point they should be covering most of the frames and be ready for a second box to be added. I was also hoping I hadn't waited too long and they weren't preparing to swarm!
I took my time going through this hive since I wanted to be able to show Byron all the facets of beekeeping. How to separate and manipulate the frames. How to use the smoker and hive tool. And what to look for in the hive: nectar, pollen, honey, eggs, larvae, capped cells, workers, drones and the queen. The bees had just started to draw wax on the first two frames in the hive so I was able to show him how they create the wax in an empty frame. He was also able to see the festooning behavior of the bees as they constructed the new wax comb. The queen in this hive remained elusive and we did not spot her. Although we did see some eggs and very young lava so she was there somewhere. A second deep box of empty frames is now on this hive. I have a feeling I should have used a technique called pyramiding to encourage them to move into the new box. If they haven't done so by the next inspection I will make it so.
This hive had a second box added with some frames from the hive that died this past winter. Some were empty brood frames and some were filled with honey. Since this hive appears stronger, the bees were already working these frames. After going through these I let Byron take over the inspection. I'm sure it was his observation of my fantastic abilities that allowed him to jump right in like a pro!! LOL
|Byron inspecting the hive|
The queen in this hive seems incredible to me. She has solid brood patters across almost every single frame. This hive will sure need the room in that second box!
|Lots of brood|
|Even more brood|
I never get tired of seeing new bees being born and emerging from their cells. This inspection was no disappointment when we spotted 3 drones being born at the same time!
|Welcome to the hive boys|
After Byron had pulled 8 frames I thought for sure I was going to strikeout in showing him the queen. But when we pulled frame 9 there she was!
After watching her run around for a bit, we completed the inspection and closed up the box.
All in all, both hives are doing well and it was a great evening for an inspection. Next inspection I will hopefully see that the queens have moved up into the second box and started laying eggs there. I'm also planning on creating one or two nucleus hives and buying a "northern" queens to put in them. At worst, this will allow me to have some backup hives in case one of the hives fails. At best they will become fully established hives with better genetics for surviving these horrible Michigan winters!
Until next time, thanks for reading!