Spring hive inspection with Roger and Jem

We were a bit overdue in doing our spring hive inspection, but luckily were helped by our friend Roger who keeps bees in Jersey City, NJ. One of our objectives was to see if we had ‘queen cells’ which would indicate that the colony was preparing to swarm. We took advantage of the help from a more experienced beekeeper to open the entire hive and really check their progress.

Garden in May

The day before was a very rainy Saturday in late May, 2013.

On Sunday, the sun was out and the bees seemed incredibly active and busy.

I suggested we wait until they settled down a bit as the temp dropped. Roger & Christy said it might be better to work on the hive while lots of bees were out foraging so we went with that philosophy with much success. The bees were incredibly easy to work with. Note Roger’s BEE BOOTS.

This frame from one of the lower supers shows both worker and drone brood. I seemed to think there was a bit too much drone brood but who knows.

Those weird looking vertical things are queen cells! This means the bees are creating new queens in preparation for swarming (another way to think of it is that the hive splits in two). We either need to force that split ourselves by putting the old queen in a new hive and hoping the new baby queens work in out in the old hive OR we let them swarm, which means us losing a lot of bees. We are trying to prevent them swarming but haven’t found the ‘old’ queen (insert Liberace joke here) so haven’t accomplished that yet.

We found a lot of cross comb, where some combs are attached to each other instead of just sitting parallel. When we found this we cut off the extra comb. In some cases we cut off drone brood with actual larvae in it (sorry guys!) in some cases it was just uncapped nectar as pictured here, and in the next image.

Uncapped nectar removed from hive.

Beekeepers with MFA’s. Not sure this Roger & Jem ever pictured themselves doing this when they went to Pratt together.

When we put the hive back together, the hive looked like this for a couple of hours. By nightfall they were all back inside which was good because it was an unseasonably cold 46 that night.

The perennial garden was in full May glory but I did not see ONE honey bee in there!

That’s a lot of bees! Next weekend we will probably try to split the hive AND we’re getting a ‘nuc’ which is a brand new young colony so it’s possible we may have 3 hives in one weeks’ time. Good thing we’re moving up there, because long distance beekeeeping is proving a bit difficult.

Many thanks to Roger and Christy for their help and to Diane for taking some of these photos!

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