Inspecting My Top Bar Hive

I recruited help again for this inspection, I needed someone to take the pictures! I have been feeling comfortable enough to not use the smoker when I open the hives. Using the smoker feels like a big project to me. I still need practice lighting it and keeping it lit. Sometimes it works well for me and other times it just burns out. I like not feeling like I have to use it every time.

This colony has ten bars in use, but one was still empty and two had small combs on them. The bars with small comb also had festooning bees hanging from them. I did not want to disturb their comb making process, so I did not move those bars. I added four empty bars and placed them in between the bars that had full combs drawn.

On this inspection I found lots of larvae! The larvae was very obvious this time. I was relieved to see so much larvae. I also saw plenty of eggs and capped brood. I did not find the queen, but there was plenty of evidence of her being there.

Some of the comb was bulging out toward the top of the bar. I tried to fix it a little, since the wax is still soft. I am not sure of the best way to fix this though. I didn’t want to make too much of a mess of things. I did move each of the bars that had full combs on them. I wanted to make sure that the combs are not stuck to the sides of the hive.

When I move the bars that the bees have started building comb onto the sides, the bees swoop in quickly and begin to fix the comb. They also collect any honey that may have spilled from moving the bars. When they are taking care of that they are less likely to care what I am doing.

The bees did not seem angry today when I opened the hive. They seemed mostly calm, of course there are the guard bees that were trying to protect their home. They were not aggressive though and the inspection went very well.

Feeders are empty.
Feeders are empty.
Removing feeders.
Removing feeders.
Scraping comb.
Scraping comb.
Nice brood pattern.
Nice brood pattern.
Capped brood.
Capped brood.
Emerging bee!
Emerging bee!
Closer look.
Closer look.
Capped honey on top.
Capped honey on top.
Bulging comb.
Bulging comb.

Full Inspection of Hive at Host House

I had mentioned to my husband that I needed to do an inspection of the hive that is in the host yard. We got everything ready and went over. For some reason, my husband thought shorts were acceptable to wear when opening a bee hive! Needless to say he got stung and even though I had pants on one got me too. We headed home without inspecting the hive.

I chewed up a plantain leaf and put it onto the sting, many people swear by it’s healing properties. I kept it on for about fifteen minutes. The area where I was stung seemed to be okay until the evening, it swelled up. I had another welt on my leg that was the size of a soccer ball. That night I went out and bought rain pants. Trying on pants with a huge welt on your leg is not pleasant!

The next morning I decided that I would inspect the hive on my own. I made sure that all of my gear was on tight and I put my new rain pants on for extra protection. The weather was good, so I was hoping for happy bees.

The first thing that I checked was under the hive lid for wasps. The lid was clear, so I continued on with the inspection. The colony has fifteen bars, one of them is empty and I added one more. The colony seems to be growing very quickly.

While looking through the hive, I spotted the queen and watched her for a moment. She seems healthy and active. There is many signs of her presence within the hive. There are a lot of eggs, larvae, and capped brood.

There was a section of drone brood on one of the bars. I was able to watch one of the drones chew threw the cap and come out of the cell. It was interesting to see the nurse bees come and attend to the drone so quickly.

Some of the combs were not built straight down. There were some bulges near the top of the bars which caused some of the other combs to be shaped funny. When I removed those bars for inspection, some of the capped honey spilled from the bulge being broken open. The bees were very quick to come and clean up the spilled honey. The bees that came to clean up the honey had no interest in me at all, they just focused on cleaning up.

I saw everything that I needed to. The main difference between this hive and my other hive is that the colony is growing very quickly with this one and the other hive seems to be putting more focus into honey production. It will be interesting to see how things progress through the summer.

Once the inspection was over I took off my coat and rain pants. It was quite warm today and all that gear did not help. The rain pants got very hot and I was happy to get them off. I may need to consider a beekeeping suit.