Thursday, April 29, 2010

Inspecting the Hives

Late this afternoon I performed my first full inspection of both hives. I started with Clare and then moved on to Galway. Yes, I decided my second hive which is north of Clare should be named Galway.

I was hoping to see a thriving colony when I opened Clare. I was very disappointed. There was little foundation drawn and it seemed the most extensive comb in the hive body was barely attached to the top of a frame. It was not drawn from the foundation rather it was flimsily attached to the top bar. It was at the location where the queen cage was suspended. I think we left too much room between frames when we put in the queen cage and the bees decided to create their own comb rather than build on the foundation on the frame.

Again, this was a situation I was ill prepared for. You can read and read and watch Youtube videos galore but there's nothing like the real world to quickly show you how little you know. Should I pull that comb and push the frames together forcing the bees to draw out the foundation? Maybe. But maybe the bees could attach the comb more securely and work with it as it was. This after all was a brood chamber. I wouldn't be trying to extract honey from that frame. I decided to let the bees have their way for the time being and I would seek more advice from the experts. Maybe I can get an expert out to check on this hive which has thrown me 2 curves in 2 visits.

I verified that the queen was released from her cage then pulled the cage, pushed the frames as close together as I could get them without crushing any bees then closed up the hive after adding more syrup to the hive top feeder. On to Galway.

Everything seemed more like I had studied when I opened Galway. If you recall, this colony was installed 4 days after Clare because the original queen was dead on arrival and I had to wait for a replacement queen. I checked the queen cage. She had been released. I pulled the queen cage from where I had it pressed against the foundation with a rubber band. The foundation wax came with it leaving a gash for the bees to repair (photo at top.)

I pulled each of the frames and examined them closely looking for eggs in the wax cells the bees had created on the foundation. There will come a time when I marvel at such a sight -- but for now I was more relieved that it seemed me and the bees were getting things right. I couldn't find any eggs in the drawn foundation -- but not to worry. I was only at day 10 with this colony. It can take the queen a bit of time to get going. I'll check again in about a week.

Hopefully the warm weather is here to stay. Upper 70's tomorrow. Dandelions everywhere. It should be bee heaven. Maybe I'll get a little luck of the Irish for naming the colonies Galway and Clare. Then again, Murphy is Irish as well and I am all too familiar with Murphy's Law.

If you'd like to see all the photos from today's inspection check out

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