Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Inspector Gadget!

     I say inspector (Gadget) because I really had to inspect the hive today. I didn't want to actually. It's about a million degrees here (OK, slight exaggeration, but just SLIGHT!) fires are burning all over and the whole city smells like a campfire. Ironically I'm still waiting on my smoker... I had a conversation with a fellow bee keeper and he suggested I look for day old larvae so I had to do it. I put on jeans, with socks up over my jeans, my hiking boots, a sweatshirt and gloves with bands around the end of the sleeves. I was going in! Oh, also my veil. I thought about putting a bit of tinder in a can for smoke, but opted for a bottle of sugar water, my luck I'd burn down the hive. and given the fires in our state I'll just wait for the smoker!
The wasp was in trouble, these bees covered it.
Likely killing it with body heat
I also decided to pull the front feeder, which turned out to be of a good decision today because there were a ton of yellow jackets trying to rob the hive today! I think my girls put up a good defense though, as you can see from some of the pics I took. I also noticed that I have a good number of ants, so I will be doing something about that too. Likely I will go with some vaseline or grease on the base. More on that at a later date.
These dang things are in the water dish too! 
     So after suiting up like I was going skiing, I gathered my tools, hive tool, frame grabber thinggie, (hey it's technical), spray bottle of sugar water, empty med super, inner top, and feed. I have to tell you with the stings I've taken lately, and how really cranky the bees have been I really didn't want to inspect today! Also I have been doing morning or evening inspections, because of the heat, but since everyone has told me that daytime is best when the foragers are out I sucked it up and went to do the inspection. Feeling like I was on the surface of the sun because it was so hot, I figured I'd get this done!
Another wasp that fled ASAP 

I used my hive tool to pry off the inner lid, which of course has been stuck to the hive with propolis. I gave the girls a little spritz of sugar water. The top super is only about 1/4 drawn out. It looks like they started in the middle and are going on from there. I removed one of the outer frames and checked the rest of the frames quickly. They are looking good. At that point I had to pry the top box off the bottom brood box, due to again, the bee glue. I gently set the top box onto the blocks behind me and began the inspection and search for larvae. I had to spritz a few more times because they were riled up (duh, I'm in their house! MAKE MY DAY LAW with a stinger!). Once I had the first frame out I was able to move around in the box and check for brood. This box is full, completely drawn out, there are no blank spots at all on the frames, which I take to be good. The outer frames were mostly capped, it wasn't until I got to the inner frames I found day old larvae. Which I had trouble locating at first, because even though I've looked at a million images via books or google, I wasn't sure what I was looking for!
One of the top super frames
     Let's not forget I'm brand new at this! I located several rows of what looked like tiny maggots, but rolled up in a C at the bottom of cells. I think I also had trouble locating them because my eyeballs were not co-operating in the sunlight through the veil. It's a learning curve! Once I found those I breathed a sigh or relief! My queen is working and laying. :) that makes me happy! I didn't doubt that she was since it's evident to me that the hive is thriving actually, but still, I needed to be sure. I'm confident that even though I didn't see the queen, again, the sun & veil it's hard to see.... I'm sure she's there. I'm also always super careful not to smash the frames when I'm in the hive, don't want to damage the queen! So even though I found those larvae I went ahead and pulled out the rest of the frames one at a time and checked them. I found other fresh larvae as well on a couple other frames. I did see some strange looking cells, which I am not sure what they were, not queen cells since they were in the middle of the frame, and not as big as a peanut, just sort of bulgy. I'll try to research those.... I wish I could have taken a picture but my hands were occupied and I wasn't letting my son too close this go round. My GoPro is on loan, but next time I inspect I am wearing it on the headband I think.
The new look of the hive.
Note, no strap yet! 
the front feeder now on top bees still in there
Top is vented this is a view from the back

bees on a plant in the garden post sugar spray
      I was pleasantly surprised that not being as fearful of the stings due to the precautions, I quite enjoyed checking out the bees today! I got the hive back together utilizing a few more spritzes of the sugar water here and again. Once it was all together, I put the med super on top and put a jar with holes for food on top of the inner cover. I need to get a real top feeder but this will work totally fine until I give Greg a call about it this week. (I buy all my supplies that are hand made right here in Denver from Greg at Dakota bees I put the second inner cover on the feeder and then vented the hive as I added the telescopic cover. I'm a bit concerned that I my strap is at capacity and I need to add a second one. If you have read my blog before, you know I'm kinda a ditz about these and my husband and to help me on it before. I am hoping that the top feeder will be a better fit for my hive and that it will cut down on the wasps and robbers. And even though I've lost 10 lbs sweating to death in my sweatshirt in 100 degree weather, it was worth it! And, I might add that I will likely buy a bee suit, cause dang it all, it was much more enjoyable to work the bees without worrying about being stung and the days of itching and swelling that comes along with them. I'm not so naive as to think I'll never get stung again, but let's face it, no smoke, no suit wasn't working.  
    I was becoming afraid and that is no good! The smoker should be here today along with my new vented gloves and I'm going to ask my hubby for a suit for my birthday, Ha! A BIRTHDAY SUIT! perfect! I can work my bees in my birthday suit! Spectacular! I'll keep you posted on the top feeder and ant situation!


  1. Hi, I'm Brenda, out in Brighton. I commented on your question on Beesource forum. I've kept bees for 4 years now. I've collected my supplies as cheaply as possible, even making some of my woodenware. I got a pair of coveralls in a light tan color, 100% cotton at a thrift store, and also got a pair of tall rubber gardening boots. I don't use the boots when it's too warm, just socks and sneakers. A denim shirt works pretty well, too. If you have the equipment, this is what I have done for feeding: Take off the outside cover, and set an extra box on the inner cover. Set your jar (yes, I punched holes in jar lids, and turned them upside down on sticks about 3/8" thick, before I felt I could afford feeders!) on sticks on the inside cover. Put the outer cover back on. The bees will come up thru the hole in the inner cover to feed, and the wasps won't be able to get in. You have enough room inside there to put a couple sets of sticks, so that if the bees don't want to leave the current jar, you can set another full jar in another corner. When they can't get another drop from the first jar, they'll leave it, and go to the new one. I also find that it takes my bees (especially swarms) about 4-6 weeks to totally calm down. I'm so glad that you enjoy just sitting and watching them! I do, too, although it's been a little warm to do that the last couple of days, hasn't it? I wonder if the smoke in the air may make them uneasy....Anyway, my email is You're more than welcome to email me, I'll share anything I've learned. Remember, everyone kind of does things the same in a different way! ;D
    Good luck!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Brenda! I did JUST that thing with the "top" feeder. I can't afford to get a real one but I don't think the bees care what it looks like and they will be able to feed just as well. I'm about to go out and replace the feed today, but I think I'll just make a second jar and swap it out. I don't doubt it's likely empty. I can't believe the amount of wasps! I did get a bee suit for my Bday yesterday and I'm thrilled! (well, actually the $ for it, my BFF got it for me so I have to order it) My smoker and new gloves will be here today totally exciting!
      My big thing in getting the bees was actually because I have spent countless hours in my garden just watching them in the past couple years so I decided why not have a hive myself? So, I did! :) I'm glad to know you! I will email you for sure if that's OK!