Friday, May 24, 2013

Our First Look Inside

We had a break in the rainy weather yesterday and made haste to do our first inspection of each of our hives.  We rushed through the South hive but did really well with the North Hive.  We saw eggs, larvae, pollen- and nectar-filled comb, and a lot of working bees in both hives.

The sound of their buzzing was awesome and slightly intimidating, but once we were in there, I felt like I was in my element.

Mr. Bee, About to Open the South Hive

Beekeepers use smoke because it drives the bees down into the hive. Their survival instinct upon sensing smoke is to fill their stomachs, which makes them a bit more calm during inspections.

We were disappointed to see that the size of feeder we chose allowed for too much space between the frames.  You can see to the top of the photo below, the appropriate amount of "bee space", and to the right bottom where the bees are busy filling up the extra space with comb.

South Hive

Here is a shot of those busy bees crawling all over the frame while I was taking a look for eggs and larvae.  Seeing eggs and larvae means that the queen is laying, which is exactly what we were looking for in the first inspection.

A Frame From the South Hive
One of my favorite parts about inspection was that when I pried the frames apart, the bees held arms & legs to try and stay together until they just couldn't anymore.  You can see several strings of bees in the unfocused parts of the photos below. Such dedication.

Hanging On
We pulled this piece of comb, stuffed with pollen, off of the South Hive.  Though we rushed through the inspection, this allowed us to see that there is plenty of pollen coming in. This is important because pollen is a source of protein for the bees.

Did you know that pollen comes in all sorts of colors? We've seen shades of yellow & orange coming into our hives, but I've seen photos of pink, blue, and green pollen.

Pollen-Filled Comb from South Hive
After our work was finished, Little Bee had green beans for supper. He is superbly happy in the outdoors.

My little girl had a special job - manning the squirt bottle. All the dandelions were thoroughly watered... and also her dad.  She was very serious when she ran up to me and said, "Mom, I am a beekeeper, too."  Soon we'll have to invest in a bee suit for her.

We have brand new beekeeping eyes, but we wondered if the South hive may be a little stressed since there seemed to be less bees and the comb was pretty wonky in that extra space.  We did change the feeding situation and added frames to the brood box to correct the space, so we hope that the next inspection will show some improvement.

The North Hive was simply wonderful to observe.  The brood was being developed right in the middle of the box, there were tons of eggs & larvae, and there seemed to be more bees.

All the beekeepers we have met have told us that they are continually learning and that bees, though they are studied and observed, can be unpredictable.  Though our hearts are set on helping the bees succeed, we are learning to embrace that we are working with wild animals, and it seems we will be learning some life lessons from these tiny but intricate creatures. 

I can't wait for the next inspection!

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