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Partial hive inspection

Posted by on June 19, 2012

I removed the inner cover, exposing the frames today. The bees were not amused, and I had a few moments where I had to remind myself that I was safe in my suit. I used my hive tool and moved a few frames a bit so I could see inside them better, but didn’t remove any from the hive for a full inspection. There were certainly a lot of bees in there, and they were busy making a mess as some of the frames made been cross-connected at the top with comb.

My point in doing a partial inspection today was to make sure all was well. While on this sunny day there are bees coming and going with pollen, I am worried that the hive doesn’t seem under full production. What I expect to see is at least 10 bees buzzing around the front of the hive, and bees entering and leaving the hive every second or so. Now let’s be clear, most of these expectations come from watching YouTube videos of active hives, and you can’t believe what you see on TV so… I may have completely false expectations.

My main worry is that my bees look “damp”. They are darker in color than I expected, and have a faint shine to them, almost like they are made of plastic. As I have read many issues with hives being too humid and bees dying, I really wanted to get a good look at them today. As long as they are happy, I don’t care what they look like – I’m just a nervous newbie beek.

What I saw was the original frames from the nuc were still that dark, almost wet color, and were covered in bees. The new frames I had put in the box to complete the 8 frame were untouched, giving me confidence that no swarming would take place any time soon. They also were so untouched that they didn’t look wet or show any signs of humidity – another good sign. Also, while there were only a few bees leaving/arriving on the entrance before I removed the inner cover, as soon as I removed it, and therefore exposed the frames, a few hundred bees emerged on the top of the frames, and at least 50 took flight, many trying to sting me as their intruder. Again, a good sign that they were healthy and can protect themselves.

As an added measure, I removed the entrance reducer, essentially a piece of wood with a small cut that when in place, reduces the opening that bees can use to leave/arrive at the hive. This is often put in place when the hive is new, as it’s a smaller entrance for them to defend from other robber bees. The downside of using one is that the bees can’t early come and go from the hive, and there isn’t as much air flow. So today I removed it so that they have a wide opening (about five times to size) to go about their business.

[Update] Without the entrance reducer the bees are buzzing around the entrance hours after I have been there. At any moment there are five or so arriving/leaving and there are 20 or so around the entrance with another 10 or so in flight around the hive. In short, they are a busy as bees – wahoo!

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