When we’re visiting with the bees, Levi is required to cover every bit of skin possible, which sometimes looks like this. I am not sure where my foresight was – I thought that working the bees would be a solitary activity, maybe if we needed to harvest honey I would recruit Levi and his muscles but in the meantime, oh just one veil was plenty for now. I was wrong! Working the bees is a social activity, with Levi asking all the questions I can’t answer and Krista taking photos for identification later. It’s a regular family function.
In any case, after installing our package of bees, we had to wait an entire week before we checked on them. Bees don’t love to be disturbed, you know. The purpose of this first hive inspection is pretty simple – just to make sure we have a healthy-looking hive and to check for evidence of the queen & her productivity. I wish we had actually seen the queen, but alas we did not spot her. There was evidence she’s been around, and she’s been doing her job, though, which is just good enough for me. On with the photos!!
We did use the bee smoker for this hive inspection, but I plan to write about that separately, so just imagine billowing clouds of smoke in your mind. Maybe you remember when we first installed the hive. I wiggled the frames apart to fit in the queen cage between two frames, right in the middle. Here’s a photo from a week ago:
But when I pulled the queen cage out, I made a mistake and didn’t move the frames back to the appropriate spacing. The bees (following the principal of Bee Space – more on that another time) took this opportunity to build some extra comb between the frames. Here’s what we found yesterday:
Totally my fault, but totally annoying! What a mess.
But it’s good news to see the comb being built, so I carefully removed the comb I didn’t want, and replaced the frames with more correct spacing. My eight frames don’t fit into the eight frame box snugly, so I had to do some careful wiggling to estimate bee space.
I carefully removed the other frames, working from the outside in to the middle. I was looking for brood, eggs, capped brood, anything that would let me know that the queen was alive and well.
On the fourth frame I pulled, I found what we were looking for. It was too close to dusk to see the eggs (they are tiny, man) but I have to assume they were there. We did see some well-developing larvae and some capped brood. Can you see the white grubby looking things at the bottom of the cells? Those are baby bees. Aren’t they precious little babies?
I was pleased to see lots of comb happening, and all the girls were very calm and tolerant of my home invasion. Hopefully I didn’t smash the queen wherever she was. (I WAS SO GENTLE AND CAREFUL) We cleaned out the rogue comb, confirmed the presence of brood, didn’t see any pests or disease, and closed the hive right back up just as quickly as possible. Eventually, some day, hopefully, a hive inspection will be routine and quick and simpler, when I know more and the hive is more established. This is the first step toward that.
Now we do our very best to leave them alone for at least two weeks.