Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Digging in the Hives

I went to a bee club meeting last night and talked with Randy, the man from whom I purchased my hives.  After my hive inspection a few weeks ago, I felt uncertain about disturbing my hives.  The inspector told me things were great and I should just leave them alone.  The less I messed with things, the better.

Randy disagreed.  He told me that in order to learn about bees I need to get into my hives.  How would I know when something was wrong if I didn't know what right looks like?  Randy had a good point. 

Today was sunny and hot with a light breeze.  Not enough to keep me cool in my suit but enough to give me a cooling breath every now and again.  The hive closest to the barn was busy as usual, not as busy as the one on the right but definitely active.  Bees were flying steadily on the flight path and several bees were visible at the hive opening.  I smoked the front of the hive and took off the outer cover.  There were about a dozen bees on the inner lid.  The spider that I'd seen inside the outer cover and killed during my two previous inspections were gone. 

Upon opening the inner cover I could see a build up of propolis on all parts of the hive frame.  The bees were active but not too disturbed by my presence.  I began by separating and pulling frames from the left side of the box as I stood behind the beehive.  Each of the frames showed some wax being drawn out.  Toward the middle of the hive there was a majority of capped honey cells.  After inspecting each frame in the top box I separated the top box from the bottom and placed the top box to the side. 

The bottom box was much busier than the top.  I began again by separating and pulling frames from the left side of the box standing behind the box.  Again inspected both sides of each frame and then returned them carefully to the box.  On several of the frames the bees had eaten the wax.  There was a brood pattern visible on most of the frames, I saw the larvae cells on a few frames and saw a few hatching bees but I didn't see any egg cells.   I also didn't see any drones or drone cells.  I did see the queen.  I closed up the left hive and then moved to the right hive.

The right hive was much more active on the outside than the left hive had been.  There were several dozen bees clustered in the bottom right corner as well as a steady stream of bees moving in and out of the hive.  I opened the outer cover to find a busier hive from the top as well.  No sign of the spider was found.  The wax in the top brood box was drawn out.  There didn't seem to be as much honey stored in this hive.  I did spot several drones in the top box.  In the bottom brood box there was a heavy brood pattern with a number of drone cells and more drones.  One cell looked especially large but since it was in the center of the frame and round not oblong or dangling, I decided it must be a larger drone cell. Again, I saw capped honey cells and capped brood cells.  I saw larvae but I didn't see eggs.  I did not see the queen in this box.  After pulling and inspecting each frame I replaced the box and lids. 

Next time I go to the hive I'll be taking paper and pen to record what I see on each frame.  I'll also be looking even more carefully for eggs.  Despite the heat, I enjoyed my time in the hives.  I enjoy the bees and find them absolutely fascinating.

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