March 8 inspection

It’s been a couple weeks since I last looked into the remaining hives. It was sunny, warm, and not too windy so I thought I’d get into the hives for an inspection. I also had a mind to do a postmortem of the NUC that didn’t make it. Also figured I’d move some things around and harvest the honey from the dead hives.

The NUC had almost no bees, and lots of empty frames. Basically they didn’t lay in enough groceries to make it through the winter, and the sugar I provided was out of reach of the cluster. Not a total loss, because I have 10 frames of drawn comb I didn’t have before. Next set of bees going in will have less work ahead of them when they go to set up housekeeping.

One of my co-workers had mentioned he’d like to take a peek into what beekeeping is about so I invited Mark to come over. He arrived just as I was finishing up the bee box shuffle and was almost ready to get into the live hives.

We started in on the hive I had moved from a double high NUC into a 2 box 10 frame. I was absolutely delighted to see the queen in the upper box, lots of capped brood, larvae, and eggs. This was surrounded by honey and pollen. The ladies have been bringing in pollen for a few weeks now and have been quite industrious in this undertaking. The bottom box was just as full of brood and groceries. I have high hopes for this colony.

Mark was really into the whole inspection thing and helped with the smoker, queen spotting, and asked a lot of really good questions.

We then opened up hive 1. This is my really aggressive hive and the smoker got a good workout. It’s a 3 high, 2 large brood boxes and a medium honey super on top of the brood. We found brood in the top super. Not unheard of, and I am glad to see that this queen is laying this well this early. I have never seen this queen in the 11 months these bees have been with me. We set the top box down, and got into the middle box.

Jam packed with groceries and big tight brood patches in the middle 6 frames. This queen has been amazingly productive. We saw lots of pollen of various colors. We moved the middle box out of the way to look into the bottom box.

The bottom box had some brood, some groceries, but nothing spectacular. Sometimes a queen will move up out of the bottom box and spend her time upstairs. I had a mind to swap the middle and bottom boxes to give her majesty incentive to lay in the emptier box. When we lifted the bottom box there she was! Her majesty with a red dot walking around on the bottom board. I greeted her most graciously and quickly put the middle box on the bottom board, thus protecting the queen and giving her lots more room to lay in the (now) center box. We buttoned everything back up, put the tiedowns back on all the boxes, and Mark helped me carry the empties up to the garage for storage.

I ended up with 15 mixed frames of honey, and peace of mind knowing all is well in the remaining hives. Both are likely candidates for splitting in a month or so, and perhaps a second set of splits later on this year.

Thanks Mark for coming all the way down and helping me with the inspections. Hopefully you will have more questions, and a better understanding of what it means to be a beekeeper.

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