New beekeepers and first 2012 hive inspection

Well, well, well. Do I have news for you! Had my first in-depth hive inspection on Sunday and the hives looked AWESOME! There were at least 4-5 frames of brood in each hive, the queens were spotted and there were LOADS of pollen coming in. We looked at a frame of bees and it seemed as if every single bee had full pollen baskets.

The redbuds are in bloom, the maples as well and the forsythia is starting. My peach and nectarine trees are also just breaking open their buds (I only have one each).

I had 2 guests with me this time, Connie and Karen are taking the beekeeping class this spring and they are very interested in starting with hives. Needless to say, when I opened the hive and we starting looking around, they were just fascinated. But of course! Because bees are so COOL!

New beekeepers! Connie and Karen get right in there!

Here is the summary, if I get it right from memory (I forgot to turn on my memo feature on the phone):

Melissa: overwintered in a deep and a medium. Upon inspection there were 4 frames of brood in all stages, at least 7 frames of bees with more foraging, and Queen Maria was  spotted. There was still a full medium of honey above the brood nest, because a solid roof of honey could convince the hive to swarm, I checkerboarded with foundationless frames. I pulled the full frames and put them in the freezer.

Demeter: overwintered in 2 deeps, a medium and a few partially drawn foundationless frames. Noted 4-5 frames of varied brood, Queen Penelope was spotted, more than 10 frames of bees. The brood was in the top deep so I expected the bottom deep to be empty…WRONG! Rather it was loaded with new nectar. I reversed the deeps to put the brood on the bottom. I only had one foundationless frame left and put that in the medium. When looking at the new nectar in the deep, I noticed the comb on a couple of frames was from Peter’s hive and it was very old and black. I added a Freeman Beetle trap to Demeter and switched the solid inner cover for a ventilated cover since the trap has a solid plastic tray used for catching the hive beetles and I was worried the tray would block ventilation.

After thinking about it (for some reason, I always think of what I should have done after I close up the hive), I decided I wanted that old comb out and I needed to break up that deep of honey to make them think they weren’t outgrowing their space. So today I got a chance to get in there but I didn’t want to smoke them. Boy were they PISSED. I managed to remove 2 frames of old comb but when replacing the new ones, I couldn’t get one in and the bees were starting to get all over me as I struggled to shove in the last frame. So I have 2 foundation frames next to each other rather than spaced apart. I’ll have to fix that later, I just wanted to get out of there! The deep with the new nectar also had frames from the fall that appeared untouched and these were the sugar-syrup frames. You can tell, especially with the pure wax foundation because the “honey” is almost clear and very obviously, NOT honey.


1. Make more medium foundationless frames, place them in Demeter. The medium they have is completely full and needs to be broken up to reduce tendency to swarm.

2. Remove a few more deep frames from the top honey/sugar-syrup filled deep and replace them with foundation.

3. Make more deep frames to have ready for Melissa.

4. Strip and paint remaining supers.

5. Arrange for more beetle traps.

Here is a picture of the old frames I pulled today, Friday.

The old brood comb now housing nectar and honey. Compare them against new wax foundation. The cocoons shed by the bee larvae after pupating, chemicals/toxins embedded in the wax, and the debris in the brood cells all contribute to the darkening of the brood comb. Some brood comb can look like this after one season just because of the shear number of bees reared in the cells. You should change these out every 2-3 years. In the deep these were in, these 2 frames were the only ones like this, the remainder were new sheets of foundation from last year. I left the old frames out for the bees to rob.



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