Tag Archives: hive opening

Grand Opening

15 May

It had been three weeks since I got the bees into the hive. I hadn’t opened the hive to do an inspection because it’s been too cold and too rainy. I’ve bee poking my head in to feed the girls every few days so I know that something is happening in there. However, Deb made a really good point to me. If I didn’t check to see if there was a queen, I would be in trouble. Worker bees only live 6 weeks in the summer. If there wasn’t a queen in the hive, I would only have a short amount of time to find a replacement Queen in time for the current bees to raise new bees before they kicked the bucket. I hadn’t really considered this because I was so concerned about the weather. So even though it wasn’t the warmest of days and there wasn’t the best amount of sunlight, I opened the hive. Sadly, I didn’t have an extra pair of hands on deck to take pictures.

I was very hesitate and nervous about opening since I have been stung twice already. I wore full gear and gloves. I didn’t see the queen but I did see evidence that she was there. There was lots of capped brood (bees being developed). I saw eggs which means that the queen had laid them within 3 days. The bees are making good progress making honeycomb on about 5 of the frames. The next time I open the hive I hope that I will see some new bees being born. It’s always exciting to see the bee life cycle continue.

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The Bee Dance

30 Jun

Remember when I mentioned doing an interpretive dance to celebrate pollinator week? Well it turns out, I already did one. Two summers ago Mike’s family and I went up to Eagle Island, Maine to visit his aunt and cousins. At the time, they had just started their hives and we took part in an inspection. I was so curious about it then that I got to be involved and take the hive notes.

Hive opening led by Mike's aunt

The more hesitant folks (including Mike) stood at a safer distance to watch.

The hesistant crowd

Me and the hive

Frame full of bees

Bee Birth

Bee Birth

The Brooklyn crew

At the time I had no idea that I would be opening a hive myself but I was super curious about how it all worked. I am glad that I got a taste of beekeeping then. It fueled my love for it now.

Next hive opening is happening tomorrow at lunchtime if anyone wants to come join us in Brooklyn!

Batting a thousand

13 Jun

Mike and I opened the hive on Friday after work. It was just the two of us because Deb was away for the weekend. Mike and I tried to be as prepared as possible but once I am arm deep in bees, all bets are off.

Me opening the top deep


We inspected both deeps to see if the bees had made any progress. There was some activity up there but we didn’t find any eggs or larva.

using the hive tool


There was tons of activity in the bottom deep.

Smoking the bottom deep


For some reason when I took out the frames, the bees were clustering in the lower corner. They reminded me of the game Barrel of Monkeys.
Bee Chain

Bee Chain


It’s funny to watch the bees gorges themselves with the honey after being smoked. I love that they get their whole body into the comb and then their bums stick up in the air.
Bees in comb

Bees eating honey


Mike and I tried to be very methodical and efficient with this inspection because there was double the amount of frames to go through. We took more pictures and wrote down a detailed report. The best part is always when we find the queen. Since we haven’t been able to see any eggs, it is a relief to see that we still have a queen.
Queen Bee

Drone

So far we have been really lucky with our hive inspections. The sting count is still at 0 and we are 3/3 with finding the queen. I am hoping we can keep this streak going through September.

The Grand Opening

1 Jun

Because the weather had been so rainy, there were few opportunities to take a peak into the hive since it made its way to Brooklyn. Normally Lovebug and I have a standing date on Wednesday nights but last week we had a date with the girls. It was the only evening that we both would be around and the weather would be warm enough to do a hive inspection. We didn’t have our hivetool so we gathered a flat head screw driver, a paint scraper, and a small crowbar to do the trick. Since Bees don’t like dark colors, I put on a white t-shirt and tucked my light-colored sweatpants in my shoes. Because I was leading this inspection I got to wear the white jacket with the veil. I opted not to wear gloves on the recommendation of Bee Keepers for Dummies since I would have more dexterity without them.

All suited up

Lovebug put on the other veil and put on the white button up dress shirt he wore in his brother’s wedding. I grabbed the Benadryl, Beekeeping for Dummies and the smoker and we marched outside.

Lovebug suited up

It was Lovebug’s job to smoke the bees. Bees communicate through smell. When you smoke the bees it interferes with their system and they begin to retreat into the hive. The bees begin to gorge themselves with honey so that if there is an emergency they will have enough to live on while they establish a new hive.

After smoking the hive, it was time to take the lid off. There were way more bees than I had anticipated and they were all very busy. The point of a hive inspection is to make sure that the queen is doing her job laying eggs. We were looking for eggs, larva and brood. The first few frames did not have many bees on them and were fairly light. Most of the action was happening in the middle of the hive, where both sides of the frames were covered in bees, capped honey, pollen, and brood. Queen Ma was in charge of writing down what was happening in each frame while Lovebug removed burr comb and propolis.

On the 5th frame, Lovebug spotted the queen! It wasn’t nearly as hard to find her as I thought it would be. Her bum is SO much bigger than her sister bees. Sadly we didn’t take any pictures when the hive was opened. I wanted to finish the inspection as quick as possible since it can take up to 2 days for a hive to return to normal.

The girls on the front porch

For beginners, I think Lovebug and I did a fantastic job. We were extremely calm, no one was stung and we know we have an egg laying queen. Maybe next time we’ll have Lovebug’s sister be the hive photographer.