HoneyBees – Day 14 – First Hive Inspection

On 5/11/2013 we opened the honey bee hive we have to see what has been going on for the last two weeks since we installed the package.  Below are the pictures we took during the process, Momzoo is the photographer.  Punk #2, future bee keeper, helped and you can see her doing some of the work with the frames.
IMG_4002We picked early in the morning, but after the hive was active to open it.  The idea behind this is to allow some of the hive to go out looking for pollen so that there are not as many bees in the hive.  But we also wanted to take advantage of some of the cold weather was well.  You can see that the bees are active in the picture above.  They are coming and going from the front porch.IMG_4006Before we got stated, we wanted to make sure that our smoker was up and running.  If you ask bee keepers, you will find that there are a lot of different ideas on what is best in the smoker.  We just put some pine cones and some pine needles in the smoker and started them.  It seemed to work pretty well, and I like the smell of burning pine.IMG_4008

Here is Punk #2 using the smoker to get the bees in a calmer mood for when we open the bee hive. There are two thoughts on why this works.  The first is that the bees with engorge on honey and become gentle.  The second is that it dulls the and masks the pheromone response for the guard bees in the hive.  IMG_4009

The first thing we noticed before we opened the hive, after removing the feeding bucket.  The feeding bucket is a way to supplement the bees until they get enough food to maintain themselves.  Notice that the bees have started to build out, or create comb upwards towards the feeding bucket.  This is a good sign, it could indicate that the hive is close to full and the bees are getting ready to expand. IMG_4010

This is what the hive looks like after we removed the lid.  We will work from one side towards the middle and look for several things.  We will be looking for comb filled with pollen, some comb filled with honey, but most important, we will be looking for comb with brood in it.  And we will be looking for new brood, and cells that have newly laid eggs in them.  If we see that, we know that the queen has been accepted and that the colony is now in a good productive state. IMG_4012

We smoke a little more to get the bees to move off the top of the frames.  The goal is to move as slowly as possible and to cause as little as possible disruption to the hive. IMG_4014

The first frame was not drawn out.  (We are working form the outside towards the middle)  But the second frame was drawn out, both sides have empty comb that is getting ready to be filled with either honey or pollen. IMG_4015

Punk #2 then pulls out the third frame to see what we find. IMG_4016

The third frame in shows sign of being used.  We can see some of the cells filled with pollen and some are getting filled with honey with some being capped. IMG_4017

The bees are leaving us alone.  They are just going about their business.  We are not seeing an aggression from them.  In fact, Momzoo and Punk #4 get closer to see what is going on.  By the time we close up the hive all four of us are standing around the hive without any sign of aggression. IMG_4018

We move onto the forth frame to see what is happening with the brood.  The goal here is to get the queen cage out to verify the candy plug has been eaten, and the queen is free in the hive and generating new brood. IMG_4019

The color of the comb is changing, as the comb starts to be used.   IMG_4020

The color is good, and we are not seeing any signs of mites, etc.  We are seeing good capped comb as well as open comb that is being used. IMG_4021

With our hive tool, we remove the comb that they started to build up towards the feeding bucket.  Punk #2 is holding it here.  Notice, comb when it is first created is pure white, it colors over time depending on what the bees use that cell for. IMG_4022

This is what the middle of the hive looks like.  Notice there are several different stages that the brood is currently in.   IMG_4023

If you look, you can see the newly laid eggs, some older larvae, as well as bigger larvae that have had their cells capped. IMG_4024

We then get ready to add a new box.  The rule I was told is that if the current box is 80% filled, then you add another box to the top.  In the process I was also told it is a good idea to move the emtpy frames one or two frames in so they get drawn out quicker. IMG_4025

We did this on both sizes of the hive, in other words, we switched frames 1 and 2 and frames 9 and 10. IMG_4026

Punk #2 then brings the new empty frame book to be added to the top of the frame. IMG_4027

We add the new box, and fix the spacing on the ends of the frames. IMG_4028

Lid goes on and we plug up the hole for the feeding bucket. IMG_4029

Put a rock on top to keep it from moving.  The higher the profile it has the easier it is for the wind to push or disturb it.