Honey Bees vs. The GoPro

I inspected the Top Bar  hive in my yard. I used the GoPro camera, the videos are below. I had to cut them into three videos to more easily upload them to YouTube. I decided to look through all of the bars that had comb on them. The bees have 8 bars: 3 of the bars are empty, 2 bars have small combs on them, and 3 of the bars have full combs. This colony seems to be slower than the other at building up their hive.

As I was looking through the comb I found capped honey and capped brood. I only noticed one egg on bar number thirteen. Bar seventeen felt heavier than the other bars when I pulled it out. It had more capped honey than any of the other bars. It was interesting to be able to feel the difference when lifting the bars.

The one thing that I did not see was larvae. I am pretty sure that I must have just missed them, but I did not see any at all in any of the combs. I thought it was strange to not see any since they were so obvious just the day before in the other top bar hive. I came to the conclusion that I just wasn’t looking in the right places and that my eyes are not well trained yet. I am not going to worry since I saw evidence of the queen in the form of eggs and capped brood.

When you pull out a bar with comb on it there is so much to see. There are usually a lot of bees on the comb and they move around quickly. On many combs you will find nectar and honey at the top and then some pollen stores. Spotting eggs can be quite a challenge, it is easier when there is sunlight to hold the comb up to. Capped brood looks different than capped honey and if the laying pattern is good, capped brood is easy to see. There is also larvae to see and as they get bigger they should be somewhat easy to find. Hopefully next time I will spot the larvae more easily.

I only added two more bars since they still had 3 empty bars and two with small combs on them. I will check on them again in a few weeks to see how things are going. If I don’t find larvae next time, then I will seek out some help.

Using the GoPro camera during inspections was very fun. I think it is great to be able to go back and watch the inspections. One of my favorite parts of the video is when the bees are coming face to face with the camera lens!

My First Real Inspection

It’s been a while since I have dedicated some time to writing a new post. I had an incident with a honey bee and have been in hiding. While I was gardening a very angry honey bee landed on my shirt. She stung me in the chest and I pulled my shirt away from my body to try to reduce the pain. To pay me back for letting her live, she went into my shirt! As I was fighting to get my shirt off, she stung me in the head! The welt on my chest was big, red, and very sore. The welt on my head looked like a big egg, almost like someone had punched me in the forehead. I had a horrible headache for several days.

Beekeeping and gardening were put on hold. The first couple of days I didn’t even want to be outside. Every time I heard buzzing near my head, I got nervous. I had no desire to mulch the garden where the beehives are or plant veggies. I am feeling a little better about things now, but I am not as comfortable as I used to be.
I am very lucky to live close to Lens Pro to Go. Whenever I need a camera lens, I can head over to rent one. This time I rented a GoPro camera. I thought it would be fun to record the first real inspections of my top bar hives. I got the head strap for the camera and it fit well over my beekeeping hat. Since I had the GoPro, I didn’t need someone else to be there taking pictures or video. It was exciting to think about doing inspections on my own.
The bees in the top bar hive in the host yard have been in their hive longer than the bees in my yard, so I planned to inspect their hive first. I had been over to check on them through the observation window and they seemed to have stopped taking the sugar water. They have been foraging well, so I decided that it would be a good time to remove the feeders. I also planned to inspect the comb for brood and honey.
The morning that I went over to the hive, I opened the lid and found a paper wasp starting a nest on the lid. Wasps are my least favorite thing! I had to figure out how to get it out of there. The family had a net for catching butterflies and I borrowed it. I was able to get the wasp and its nest into the net and destroy them both.
Now it was time for me to remove the feeders. I took out the jars from the hive and then moved the divider board so that I could add some more empty bars. I added four bars into the area where the bees are. I did a short inspection and only looked at a couple of bars. The bees had built comb on nine bars.
In the comb I saw a couple of eggs, uncapped larvae, and capped brood. There was worker brood and drone brood. The caps on the drone brood stuck out quite a bit further than the capped worker brood. There was also clear fluid, which I am assuming was nectar and I saw some pollen stores. Since I saw brood in the comb I felt that I didn’t need to pull out each of the bars.
One of the things I learned during this inspection is that the bees do not like when I use the brush to try to persuade them to move. I don’t blame them for being annoyed by it, I would be unhappy if someone was pushing me around. They seemed much happier when I very slowly put the bars back in and gave them a little time to get out of the way. It takes more time, but leaves the bees in a better mood.
This inspection went very well. I was very excited to see all of the stages of the brood and to recognize what they were. I did only spot a few eggs, but I am hoping that is only because they are hard to see on the new white comb. I did not see the queen this time, but since there was evidence of her being there I decided not to pull apart the entire hive looking for her.
I am very happy that I am using the Hive Tracks website to document my beekeeping. Using the website had made note taking so much easier. Hive Tracks even enters the exact weather for the time of the inspection, so I don’t have to think about that. They also create a “to do” list for me with future inspection dates and feeding dates if I am feeding the bees. Adding the GoPro camera this time made documentation even easier and it’s fun to watch.

Selfie with the GoPro on.
Selfie with the GoPro on.
Inside the hive looking in from the window.
Inside the hive looking in from the window.
The wasp's nest!
The wasp’s nest!
Placement of the bars.
Placement of the bars.

An Apology

I need to apologize for neglecting this website. I am sorry that I have not been getting my posts out as regularly as I should!  As you will read in my upcoming post, I had a very negative interaction with a very angry honey bee. She stung me not once, but twice and I am not sure why. I was more than 10 feet away from the hive and I was sitting on the ground planting veggies. My physical reaction to bee stings has gotten a lot worse. There is so much pain and swelling when I get stung now.

After she stung me, I have had a difficult time even being in the garden. This new fear that I have developed has aided in my being behind with everything now. It has taken me some time to be comfortable in my garden again. My garden has been suffering some neglect and I haven’t done much planting. Things are getting a little better. I have been spending more and more time in the garden. It’s been a few weeks now since the angry bee got me and I have not had any other angry bees after me.

I have inspected both of the top bar hives and I will be posting those inspections soon. The Langstroth hive has also been inspected and they are a strong colony. I will be inspecting the top bar hive in my yard again very soon and I am going to work hard at getting these post written and published in a more timely manner. Thank you for your patience with me as I continue on my beekeeping journey. I have hit some bumps along the way, but I am learning from each of them.