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My first full hive inspection

Posted by on June 24, 2012

Today was a milestone, as I did my first inspection of the hive; well of any hive that is. While I’ve seen it done before, there’s a big difference in doing it, and truth be told, I was pretty nervous. I had no idea what I would see other than a lot of bees in a box, and all the possibilities were mind-boggling.  And even if I did see things, would I understand them. As much as I have read, and listened and learned, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can replace experience. And today, I got some.

What I found was that the original five frames from the nuc were very much alive and well. The three new frames I had put in to fill out the eight needed for a full box, were untouched. While that sounds strange, I don’t think they really need the other frames yet, as not all of the five original frames were fully in use. The frames are arranged like this: “N/N/O/O/O/O/O/N” where “N” is a new frame with small cell wax foundation, and “O” is an original nuc frame.

I did find that the third and sixth frame (“N/N/O/O/O/O/O/N”) were very heavy, perhaps three to five pounds each, I assume with honey. Simply their weight made me happy they were storing up something as bees and brood just don’t weigh that much. Also, since bees work in a three dimensional space, the outer frames they were working on were heavy, and again, that’s good.

What I didn’t like was that I didn’t see a lots of capped brood (some, but not lots) and since I’m so inexperienced, I don’t even know if these orange colored brood caps are normal. And then there was the black comb that was filled with liquid. Was this nectar that wasn’t fully evaporated yet? Again, I don’t understand the nuances of each stage well enough to know this with confidence.

Since I don’t have a local mentor, and yes, I need one, I captured the inspection to YouTube so I could get comments/recommendations from the beekeeping community. Hopefully they will solve some of the mysteries.

And I know you are wondering… No, I didn’t get stung.

[Update] An experienced beekeeper saw the video and said it looked pretty normal to her. The darker color is just from older wax that came with the nuc, and the uncapped liquid is honey in the making. And the propolis, while hard and brittle in cold weather, is soft and gummy in the summer. So all is well with the hive!

4 Responses to My first full hive inspection

  1. VeesBees

    WOW I’m sooooo impressed. Are you doing a frameless foundation?

    • Dave Strickler

      The nuc was frameless, but the three extra frames I put in have foundation and they haven’t touched it yet. I’d thinking of swapping these three out for ones that have no foundations and seeing if they take to it. I’ve heard sometimes bees just don’t deal well with someone else’s wax.

  2. VeesBees

    Capped brood can take some time. I wouldn’t worry at this point. The bees are just getting acclimated.

    • Dave Strickler

      I’ll know more in a few days when I inspect the hive. With videos of both inspections, I hope to early compare frame by frame.

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