>took most of my courage and a lot of smoke
A lot of smoke is almost always a bad idea... a little smoke is much more effective.
So when I went on my first inspection and had all heads coming out when separating bars this is aggressive? Every bar I moved they did this no matter how careful I was. I used 0 smoke. Had gloves and a suit, they definatly got hot as I continued into the hive. The roar got much louder so I closed up. This was a few days ago now. I need to get into them to look make sure she's laying at some point. Things cooled off and rainy, waiting for better weather.
Other than a bar repair I haven't been into the 2nd hive. I do feed regularly every other day which is no more than removing the cover and pouring in syrup.
when you move them. The smoke makes them busy doing other stuff than worrying about you.
Suite up, smoke them, then listen for the fanning buzz that runs through the hive. A few seconds after that they'll
be busy loading with honey. Then you can go about your business of seeing what's going on in there.
A couple of puffs here and there after a few minutes while you're working will settle them back down.
Yes. Smoking "scares" your bees, but they'll be okay and not traumatized too much.
What you described sounds normal without using smoke.
As far as the bees getting up between the bars, I've found that using a "bee down strip" helps when closing back up.
I just recently started using them this year. I couldn't come up with anything worth using last year.
I get into my hives under all conditions but, when it's to cold, or when it's actually pouring rain. Even if it's cloudy or a front is
coming through etc. I want to see their reaction under all circumstances.
We were in the I'd 30s last night. I had to pull the sleeping bags off due to the rain. I looked this morning early and they were mostly curld up against the far side. I could see a lot of comb but no cappings. Temps are mid 60s right now. I may go into one of them tonight yet if I get home early enough..... The joys of working a zillion hours
If you don't use smoke, sooner or later you will open a cranky hive and they will sting the c...p out of you.
Smoke is easy, cheap, and makes inspections much easier for you and the bees. Use it. It makes very little difference on the amount you disrupt the hive by opening it up in most cases, but if they get really riled up, it's worse than if you used smoke.
I see no point at all in entering a hive that's gonna try to sting me to death just so see "how they react", but I also see not point in going into a hive just to "see what they are doing" unless I suspect something is wrong or I need to check for space requirements, and that can easily wait a day or two. If I'm just doing a routine check and they start buzzing angrily when I crack the inner cover loose, I wait and try again later. I'll go on in if necessary (treatments of some sort, queen installation, etc) but I don't particularly care for being stung. Weather changes make them cranky, so I stay out on days threatening rain, etc.