Best part…. While cleaning up, Katherine came up to me, and we had this conversation:
K: Did you get stinged?
Me: Stung, Katherine.
K: Did you get stung?
She likes it when I get stung. 🙂
- About 75 degrees
- bright sun, no clouds
- no wind
- low humidity
- generally calm bees*
- smoke (cardboard and dry grasses–I want to move away from cardboard I think)
- sugar water
*The bees were VERY calm right up to the point that I used gloves. As I wrote the other day, I’m going to start using gloves because the stings are a bit much. Today was my first day using the gloves, and they make me awkward enough that I crushed more than my fair share of bees. LOTS of bees. By the end of Hive 1, I had a thick cloud of angry bees swarming around my head. With Hive 2, I tried to be extra calm, but still… by the end I had a small swarm of angry bees. I also noticed that the gloves made me extra bold and a bit careless; neither one which is a desirable trait.
Someone suggested that I try using fingerless gloves; an intriguing idea. My stings so far have all been farther up my hands (wrist, first knuckle of the thumb), and I think fingerless gloves would provide that added measure of protection while also leaving my fingers free for the dexterity that I so enjoy and that the bees like.
On to the photos….
Hive 1, inner cover. I wanted to go a bit shorter than normal today, so in each hive I looked at only four or five frames. In Hive 1, I checked the honey super (the top box) and three frames from the top brood box to verify eggs and larvae.
This is pretty typical of the honey super in Hive 1. Not a lot of capped honey just yet, but I think we’ll be nice and full come September.
This, my friends, is honey happiness. This frame, completely filled on both sides, is from the top brood box. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to harvest it right then and there. YUM!
And here’s a pile o’ bees on the top of the bottom brood box in Hive 1. I didn’t go much deeper into this box than a frame because by now they were getting VERY angry.
This is the one frame I pulled out of the bottom box in Hive 1. Notice that near perfect rainbow of honey, pollen, and brood comb. As usual, notice that the brood pattern isn’t great, but it is improving. Pretty typical for this hive. Oh, and just for the record, lifting the top brood box, which is probably 75% honey, was like lugging around a basket a cinder blocks. Heavy.
On to Hive 2….
Here’s a good example of bridge/burr comb. All the comb on the top of those frames needs to go. I didn’t take as much as I should have, but there you have it. The more I get into beekeeping, the more I realize that I want to be very natural. I don’t want to use the chemicals (essential oils are okay), I don’t want to medicate (again, essential oils are fine), and I don’t want to keep the hives perfectly clean and orderly. I want the bees to do what they do when they do it. If I were ever to lose a hive, I would likely go through the hive and clean up the frames, but for now I’m going with the mindset that they put it there for a reason. The only exceptions are for ease of working, like this one….
It’s kind of hard to see, but this frame had a lot of comb growing in funky places, like blades. That needs to go because it makes it harder to work the frames. The bonus is, of course, that I collected both the comb and the honey on the comb. Very tasty and light.
Last one…. This frame came from the bottom box of Hive 2. Not a great brood pattern, but the hive is healthy, I saw tons of larvae, and things are going well. I did notice what looked like a varroa mite sitting on the back of one of the bees, so I went a little heavier than normal on the essential oil sugar water spray. That should help a little. I’ve been debating doing a powdered sugar treatment, but I need to get screened bottom boards first. I don’t have those just yet, although that is an upgrade I’d like to make for next year.
Overall, this was by far the most aggressive they’ve been, but I still enjoyed it. I completed the inspection (including setup and clean up) in about 45 minutes, which is less than half the time I normally take. I like that speed, but I need to figure out how to do it without killing any bees and making them so mad.
My next inspection might be harvest time. At the very least, it’ll be the last inspection before harvest time. Looking forward to it, although between the bees, the tomatoes, and the other canning I want to do, I’m starting to wonder how anyone ever gets anything done in the fall. 🙂