This is late for my routine inspection–but with all the cloudy, windy, grey, chilly days it hasn’t been appropriate for me to be ripping the roof of the girls’ home. Then when the weather improved and the sun came out, we still had some days that were too windy for me to want to open the hive. Something about the girls clinging madly to the landing board in the gusts that suggested maybe not good time either. Then we finally had days that were not too windy and sere sunny, so I thought I’d do the inspection.
When I got to the hive, there were bees flying everywhere, circling the hive, and for the first time meeting me on the way to the hive. I wasn’t sure what was up with the ladies, but something said it might not be a good time to stick my nose into the hive. The day following, same thing, except that I think I picked up what was causing the problem–lots of banging, thumping, nose, and some unusual traffic by the hive brought them out again; so another deferred inspection.
I had three boxes to inspect this time–and I came away glad that I decided to do all 8-frame mediums. Two of the boxes were heavy! That’s not a complaint, just an observation; heavy is good. It means honey for the winter. I didn’t have another OMG-so-many-bees reaction this time–I was expecting lots of bees. That is what I found–but even more bees than I expected. Again, happiness.
Despite the time and manipulation it takes to check each frame in three boxes/bodies, the girls handled it well–there were more than usual flying around us by the time I was putting the last frame back in the bottom box, but I call them alert, not aggressive. This time I had an extra set of hands so I got some pictures of some of the frames as I pulled them–I was hoping to see more detail on the frames. Guess I need to work on another way to get pictures.
I’m pleased with how the hive looks (to my inexperienced eye); bees were working in the upper body–mostly drawing comb, but starting to see a little nectar and pollen there too; no brood. I found brood in both the middle and the lower body. I did place strips to treat for mites (Varroa destructor). When I go back to take that out, I think I’m going to need to re-arrange some of the frames to consolidate the brood. This inspection raised a lot of what-do-I-need-to-do-now questions. I’m glad there’s a meeting of the Durham County Beekeepers Association soon–I should find some answers there.
I do hope that these ladies are doing as well as I think they are–It should be interesting to take the beekeeping course after a season (well, part of a season) with already having hands on experience. The online materials (e.g. Brushy Mountain Bee Farms webinars and videos) and blogs (Scientific Beekeeping.com, Tales from the Bee Hive, Bee Sweet Bee Farm, My Latin Notebook, and many more) have provided good information. Conversations with Facebook friends and beekeeping groups have also helped through difficulties like the sugar syrup spill bringing hornets and yellowjackets, and found me a feeder that works so well!
Today I got my first sting–even though for everything except installing the nuc, I’ve worked only wearing a veil. I know it would happen sooner or later…and it finally did. No big deal.