Best Bees came out and inspected the Langstroth hive. The beekeeper looked at one of the frames in the top deep and it was full of uncapped honey. She took out another frame and found the same thing. She decided to look into the middle deep.
In the middle deep there was a lot of honey, but very little brood. Of the brood that was there, some of the pupae were dead. The beekeeper stated that she thought it looked like it might be sac brood.
After going through all of the frames in the middle deep, she continued on into the bottom deep. There was plenty of honey, but not much brood in the bottom and middle deep boxes. The bees had moved the brood nest up to the top deep.
The beekeeper reduced the size of the hive from three deeps to two deeps. She removed the frames with the dead pupae and some frames with capped honey for me to harvest. She put the top deep on the bottom and the other onto the top. There were also some empty frames that she took out.
The frames with the dead pupae she took to be inspected by a researcher with Best Bees. We got to keep four frames with honey. The hive smelled really good while we were going through it. I was very excited that I was going to be able to extract honey from the frames that were taken out.
After the inspection, I spent some time researching sac brood. What I was finding did not match what I saw in the hive. I began asking other beekeepers. One beekeeper pointed me in the direction of chilled brood being the cause of the dead pupae. Chilled brood seemed to fit the situation better, we had some very cold nights in the two weeks prior to the inspection.
I called Best Bees to let them know what I had learned. I asked them to let me know what they find out from the researchers. Hopefully they get back to me soon, I am very curious to hear what they have to say.
I extracted the honey from the frames that I got to keep. I used a fork to scrape the frames into a large bowl lined with cheesecloth. Once all the honey and wax with in the cheesecloth, I crushed the wax to get the honey out. Then I let the honey strain out for a while. In the end, I got about six cups of honey. The honey has a wonderful floral smell and taste.
It was time to inspect the host hive again. Mike came out to help. This time we inspected the hive in the middle of the day. We have had some cooler days now and I wanted it to be warmer when we opened the hive. The one thing I didn’t consider is how much shade there would be at that time. The hive was in complete shade when we got there. This colony has let me know that they prefer that we open their hive when it is warm and sunny. At least it was warm.
We got the smoker lit, but I forgot the cardboard to put in it. I put a lot more fuel in it than I have in the past, hoping that it would stay lit long enough. I started by plugging one of the two entrance holes and putting the entrance reducer in the other. Then I began pulling out bars, starting with the brood chamber. The first two bars had quite a bit more honey in them than last time. I was relieved to see that.
The third and fourth bars were full of honey! They were very heavy to lift compared to the other bars. There was capped and uncapped honey, although most of it was capped. As we got further into the hive, we began to worry because we were not finding any brood. We did finally find a few cells with capped brood, but not much.
I decided to go back through the hive to look for more signs of the queen. As I looked at each bar again, I walked out away from the hive into the sun to try to see better. I was able to see a few small larvae, but I didn’t see any eggs. It was very hard to see with the shade cover into the dark combs.
We did not see any drones in the hive, so they have removed them. The workers were still bringing in pollen and they had some good pollen stores built up. There was a lot of honey in the hive. They have at least seven combs full of honey and some of the combs were completely full of capped honey. There was a tiny comb that was empty at the end opposite the brood nest and I took it from them for educational purposes. I will be at an event soon talking about bees and beekeeping.
The bees were very calm again today. It was so nice to get into the hive and not have to deal with aggressive bees. The hum of the hive seemed content and was relaxing to listen to. They did start to get a little upset once I had gone through the hive the second time. It was obvious that I had begun to wear out my welcome. At that point, I closed up the hive.
I will need to get back into the hive in about two week to see if I can find more brood or the queen. This colony is in a good position now with their honey stores. I hope that the queen is alive and well.
With the exciting surprise of a hive full of honey, I decided that I needed to inspect the hive in my yard too. Once I got home, I got everything ready and got into the hive. My husband helped me with taking notes. I use a little notepad and write down what I see, usually in some crazy shorthand. Once I finish the inspection I will enter the information into my account at www.hivetracks.com. I love using Hive Tracks, it’s really easy and everything is in one place instead of all over the place like my notepads.
I have been very worried about this colony. At the last inspection, I found very little honey. I had started feeding them again. The first batch of food they ate and almost emptied the jars. The second batch of food they did not touch and I got really worried. I had begun preparing myself for the chance that they may not make it through the winter. After inspecting the host hive and seeing all of the honey, I was very hopeful when I opened this hive.
I did not use the smoker with this hive. The bees seemed calm when I opened the hive. When I pulled out bars, I found the same surprise as in the other hive, honey! They had lots of honey! They had about seven full combs of honey too.
While searching I found eggs, uncapped larvae, and capped brood. I also spotted two worker bees without wings and there were some dead pupae. I looked closely for mites and did see any. There were only a few drones remaining in the hive and I checked them for mites too. I didn’t see any, hopefully that means that they are not a huge problem.
There was one bar that the bees had built some double comb on. I scarped off the small extra pieces for us to keep. There was a small amount of uncapped honey in the pieces that I took.
After looking through the hive I had a feeling of relief come over me. These bees have filled their hive with honey. There were signs that the queen is there and doing well. I now have hope that this colony has a chance to make it through the winter.
After closing up the hive and cleaning everything up, I thought it would be a good time to try the honey from the extra pieces. We all got to try some and it was delicious!
Now that I have completed an inspection on the top bar hive in my yard, it’s time to tackle the host top bar hive. I have put off inspecting this hive for a long time. The last couple of inspections were unsuccessful and really painful.
I have some extra hands helping out with this inspection. Mike, the guest beekeeper that helped out previously and Rachel, who is kindly hosting this hive. This is the first hive inspection for Rachel.
The two hives in my yard have already started their winter preparation and are kicking drones out. It wasn’t obvious if the host hive has started removing drones yet. We talked about winter plans for this hive. The hive is sitting out in an open area so we are going to surround three sides of it with hay bales to create a little bit of a barrier. I also need to look into making a candy board for the top bar hives. I will also be making warm quilts to put in the hives, just about the top bars. I am hoping that the quilts will help the bees with insulation.
We used the smoker to inspect this hive too. I showed Mike and Rachel the new smoker technique and we got it lit. I thought that it would be good to start the inspection in the brood chamber this time. The last time we inspected this hive, we were not able to get into the brood nest. The smoker had gone out and the bees were very grumpy.
The colony seemed calm and relaxed this time. We were able to go through each bar without any problems. I did a visual check for mites on each of the combs. I did not see any signs of them. Hopefully that means that they are not going to be a problem.
There were still quite a few drones in the hive, but I did not see any drone brood. The queen is still laying well and the brood pattern looked very good. We were able to see eggs, larvae, and capped brood.
There were some honey stores, but not enough to get them through winter. When I inspect the hive again, I will decide if I need to start feeding the bees. I have the feeling that I will need to feed them, but I want to wait a little longer.
During this inspection I was able to take the time to show and explain things to Rachel. It felt really good to be in the hive and have the bees reacting well to our being there. I know that my new bee suit helps a lot with making me feel more confident, but I am making progress to feeling better about the bees.
This inspection went really well and it was very good to have Mike and Rachel there to help and to see everything. It was really nice to be able to go through all of the bars in this hive, I haven’t been able to do that for a long time. I thought the comb was going to be a mess, but it was actually pretty straight. There were a couple of small bulges and I just smashed them down. The bees always get right to work if I change anything in the hive.
I am in a place where I am feeling much better about getting into the hives and I am excited to do my next inspection. I am going to wait about a month before I get into the hives again and I will need to keep an eye on the weather to determine when to go back in. I am just glad that now I can feel more confident going in and inspecting the hives.