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Thread: Inspectations!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Kanabec county, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    31

    Default Inspectations!

    What an enormous amount of experienced advice available on this sight. I am also impressed with how well-written the responses are. My questions are probably already answered but i have not found it yet.
    Being recently retired, I am trying my first beekeeping this spring. The two packages of bees arrive April 21. I have never done a hive inspection or observed it in person. I think I know what I am looking for, but would like your advice on how to approach the first inspections.( I know -slowly!) I mean concerning time of day, weather, precautions, frame of mind, common errors,etc. I now feel anticipation and caution at the same time.
    I live in very rural Minn., and don't have beekeeper-mentors near. Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,394

    Default Re: Inspectations!

    Welcome. When you open the lid pull a few frames and look for brood and a queen and laying pattern. That is about all you need to do first off. Make sure they are fed etc. Keep reading there are some really good posters on this site.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,505

    Default Re: Inspectations!

    Here's my very limited experience:

    Don't open the hive on days where it's cloudy and threatening rain. I have very gently bees, and the only time I've been stung is under those conditions.

    Use smoke. Doesn't take much, and it MUST be cool (frying the bees enrages them), but a whiff of smoke calms them down and they ignore you, which is what you want. Use the smoke to run them back in when you get ready to put supers back on. That way you squish fewer of them. Squishing bees make the rest of them angry.

    Give the smoke a while to work -- send a puff into the entrance and under the top cover and wait a minute or so before opening the hive. This will give you much better results.

    Go slow and if you bang the hive or a super really cracks loudly when you pry them apart, wait a bit before continuing to let the bees settle down, unless you need some bee venom therapy on your arthritis.

    If they come boiling out as soon as the lid comes up and smoke doesn't seem to have an effect, close the hive and leave. Another day will work better.

    Never open the hive without a veil on. No matter how calm they usually are, some time or other they will be furious and sting your ears and eyelids without warning.

    Only tip the frames around to see what's there over the hive. That way, when the queen falls off she will fall into the hive instead of into the grass where you step on her.

    Always remove an outside frame and slide the others away from the rest as you inspect. You won't roll so many bees that way -- and will get far fewer stings.

    A first year hive won't have much propolis in it yet, but eventually you will have to pry frames out. Use the corner of the hive tool between the frames to lift them up, don't pry on the outside of the frame rest rabbet, as this will crunch sooner or later and give you a box that leaks bees in bad places (your face, for instance).

    Never stand in front of the hive, the most aggressive bees in the hive are foragers, and you will be getting in their way in both directions. You will soon be standing in a cloud of unhappy bees, with predictable results. Beside or behind is much better.

    Move frames in and out or side to side slowly, this lets the bees get out of the way instead of mashed.

    Remember to push all the frames together before you close things up. If the end bars are touching, the bees won't glue them up so badly. If propolis accumulates there, scrape it off.

    Last, enjoy yourself. Bees are endlessly fascinating.

    Peter

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,639

    Default Re: Inspectations!

    i too have limited experience, but here's what i try to do after having some less than enjoyable experiences digging into the hives:

    1. avoid very early and very late in the day, most of the foraging bees will be out in the middle of the day.

    2. avoid very windy days, it's hard to get the smoke to work effectively when the wind is strong.

    3. bright sunny days are best. even with my bifocals it's much easier to see eggs when the sun is shining and i don't worry so much about finding the queen if i see eggs.

    4. stay behind the hive. i usually place the telescoping lid upside down and to the side of the hive and use it to place supers on diagonally, and i lean the inner cover against the front toward the entrance.

    5. i always wear a veil, and i like the disposable nitrile gloves.

    6. i like to use a frame perch, but once i get two or three frames out i have enough space to just put the next frames to the outside of the box.

    7. i also use a frame grip, but it's not absolutely necessary.

    welcome to beekeeping, and good luck with your first bees!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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