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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

This is my first post.
Thanks to all the folks that make this a great place for a newbee to get started.

I started my first hive this year; from package bees April 15th in Kansas City.

The bees seem to be doing great. I added my second deep when the first deep was 7/10 drawn.
When the second deep was 7/10 I added a shallow super of Bee-O-Pac (I love comb honey).

When I added the honey super I saw that the top deep was drawn and filled with HFC syrup but no brood. I assume that queen just hadn't moved up yet as the colony appears to be growing.

I don't know if I should remove the upper deep and work my way down during my inspections. All I've read says remove the frames during the inspection but I don't know if it means all the frames.
If I do need to look at all the frames, how do I that? Do I remove the upper deep and set it on the ground while I inspect the lower deep?

Thanks!
 

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bee2 ask:
All I've read says remove the frames

tecumseh replies:
not always necessary and is somewhat dependent on time restriction. ie it is one thing to inspect all the frames in one hive and quite something else to do the same thing to 500 hives.

I typically look at all the frames only when I have something very definite I am looking for or wish to acquire from a hive. most time when I crack the boxes apart I look down thru the top bars between the frames of the lower box and up between the bottom bars of the upper boxes to check condition (quantity of bees, capped brood and stores).

then bee2 ask:
If I do need to look at all the frames, how do I that? Do I remove the upper deep and set it on the ground while I inspect the lower deep?

tecumseh suggest:
when I split a hive for observation I typically set the front of the hive bodies on the ground laid out in the order of their removal. the idea is to set the body down whereby the least number of bees are harmed and the 'order of' simply makes restacking a bit more straight forward and unconfusing.
 

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What you look at depends entirely on what you're looking for, and why. Assessing the condition of a colony doesn't require pulling every frame out and looking at it. A lot can be inferred from what you see happening at the entrance or what you can see looking down between the top bars, noting the distribution of bees, or hefting the back of the hive to estimate the weight. Are you looking for the queen? Is finding a frame with fresh eggs sufficient? If so, stop looking when you find fresh eggs! Is disease a concern? If so, you better look at every frame in the brood nest.

When you're new to beekeeping, you're going to over-inspect your hives, no way around it so just do it, enjoy it, but remember that tearing your hives apart is counter productive and doing so on a regular basis is not a good idea. It disturbs the bees and interupts their activities for some time and you run the risk of injuring or killing the queen.

I try to avoid putting a hive body on the ground- you end up with bees crawling on your feet and stinging your ankles. I stopped doing that and I stopped getting stung on my ankles
I turn the top cover over and either put it on a stool next to the hive or on the platform the hives are resting on and setting the boxes in it with one end of the box sitting up on the rim so as to not squish bees. Some folks lean the boxes up against the hive with one end resting on the ground. I try not to do this but have upon occassion.

Sometimes when really tearing into a hive it helps to have a spare hive body available to hold frames when you're done looking at them. I also have a frame hanger that hooks on the side of the hive and holds 4-5 frames, but I don't use it much. I usually remove one or 2 outside frames, stand them on end next to the hive, that gives me the room I need to pull any other frames I want to look at without risk of rolling bees, or the queen.

George-
 

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Welcome to Beesource! Inspecting the whole shebang is disruptive to the colony, but as a beginning beek it's good to get the experience while the colony is small. Soon enough you'll just know after a couple frames from the broodnest what's going on, and have the experience to spot queen, eggs, and assess brood and stores quickly. The new experience of seeing how the bees do what they do is valuable; I say inspect until you know what you'll see anyway and you'll naturally go through fewer and fewer frames.

Now that both deeps are drawn, and especially since you've supered, stop feeding. The queen may not be able to move up because the brrod area's syrup-bound (OK if there's enough room below, esp for a new package).

For me, as a hobbyist who enjoys working the bees at least as much as I enjoy the honey, the break in production doesn't concern me much. I keep bees to play with them as a break from the rigors of the real world.

If you do a full tear-down, yes put the telescpoing cover upside down on the ground. Then the upper at a 90 on top of that while you work the lower. I like the frame rest to give working room, and also a frame grip for that first frame's removal. One caveat if you use a queen excluder and do the reverse stack inspection: last year a queen hitched on the underside of the excluder and I didn't notice until the next inspection when a whole honey super had been jammed with brood (and evacuated of honey!).

I'm still trying to leave the bees alone, though my every-weekend inspections did help me ID some problems this spring. Still working on SWMBO for observation hive permission. Maybe if I kept all the smokey clothes in the bedroom
?

[ June 10, 2006, 09:09 AM: Message edited by: Ben Brewcat ]
 

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Bee2 . . .

>(I love comb honey).

Remember, you can simply cut out some from ANY honey frame (not brood frame) any time it is capped, any time you are "in the hive"


I would like to echo the first paragraph of Ben Brewcat's post - well said!
 

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Bee2,

Sounds like you have done a lot of things right so far and have a booming hive. Well done!

Sometimes, the advice you get in books and from others seems to be confusing. That may be because their perspective is from a thousand miles away or they have forgotten what it's like to be a beginning beek. But generally it is good advise to know and consider while just getting started as you are. You have to figure out what works best in your area.

As a beginner your goal in the first year is to get your hive to survive the following winter. Any surplus honey whatsoever in the first year is just a bonus. It's also to become familiar with bees, the equipment, and techniques you have read about. In order to do all of that you have to inspect your hive(s). If you do an inspection every couple of weeks that will not have a large impact on your hive IMHO. After a few inspections you will learn how to use minimal smoke and techniques that will minimize the disturbance on the bees. You have to learn what healthy eggs, larvae, and sealed brood look like. What a healthy hive smells like. How contented bees behave. What the structure of a brood nest looks like. You won't learn as much by just reading about it or asking questions. Real experience is what will make you confident in your hobby and reduce the confusion and anxiety you might have while you manage your bees. With more experience, you won't be wanting to look inside as much because you can tell what is going on inside by looking at the entrance or by partial inspections. The first few inspections are as much about how to use the smoker and hive tool efficiently as anything else. After you get the mechanical issues resolved, have a plan when you inspect. Plan to actively observe what you need to know: queen or eggs present, condition of larvae, how much sealed brood is there, etc. Once you gain experience, you can do an inspection quickly, efficiently, and with very minimal bother to the bees. This is supposed to be a fun hobby. If you don't know what is going on and are confused, that's a recipe for becoming a short-term beek.

The way I started inspections was the classic method: lay the telescoping cover on the ground then set the supers on it offset so only four points of the super contacts the rim of the cover (to keep from squishing bees). I would stack the supers on the one on the ground just as they came off the hive until I got down to the brood chamber I wanted to work on. I usually set everything off until I get to the top brood box (I run two boxes for brood) then I begin my inspection. I have a frame hanger I hook to the side of the box where I can hold the first two frames from the outside closest to me. The frame in the box closest to me comes out first and is put in the holder closest to the box. Then the second frame comes out and goes between the first frame and me while I inspect. Removing the outside frames carefully minimizes the possibility that you will roll and kill the queen since she is "usually" more to the center of the brood nest. I should add that my hives are on stands and the brood chambers are at thigh & waist level so I'm not trying to do this from a hive resting on the ground which would probably be a nightmare for your back. When I put the first two frames in the holder they are compact and the adhering bees seem to stay calm. I never had much luck with leaning frames on the ground as I usually either kicked them or knocked them over. You have to decide what works for you.

Once you have the first two frames out (that you have already inspected) the third frame is removed and inspected and then put inside the box where the #1 frame was leaving a gap between it and frame #4. Frame 4 is removed then is slid next to #3 and so on until you have moved completely across the box to the last frame. Once finished, you slide all the frames (#3-#10) back across the box until they are in their original positions then replace frames 1 & 2 in their original positions in the box. All the frames have been inspected and are in the original positions before you started. You can set that brood box off on top of the supers if you want to look at the lower brood box then inspect it. Once finished with the inspection, put all brood boxes and supers back together the way they were originally stacked on the hive. If your first inspections are taking a lot of time and there is honey exposed, you might get some robbing started but you won't know that until you see it happen (another experience thing). If robbing starts just close everything up and come back in a day or two and take up where you left off. As you gain experience you can do an inspection quickly that will not expose honey stores to a high probability of robbing.

So I guess the bottom line I would suggest is to get up to your elbows in propolis. You have to see, feel, and smell what is going on inside the hive to really understand the biology.

Mark
 

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I would add that as a beginner your main goal is to learn. so it is ok to set the hives back if the trade off is you are a better beekeeper. learn what everything looks like, how the bees form their nest, all that stuff, and you can only learn by tearing it down and looking at it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
WOW! What a response!
6 reples of great advice while I slept!
How cool is that?

Thank you all so much!

Unfortunately my inspection of the complete hive was a nightmare come true.

See my next post:
What do I do with a queenless single hive with two deeps full of honey?
 

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Quite likely, as Michael was probably thinking but didn't say, you overfed them and the bees filled up the broodnest with syrup leaving the queen no place to lay. When you mentioned at first that the "the top deep was drawn and filled with HFC syrup but no brood" I wondered. The queen can't lay in comb that's full of syrup, nor can the bees store pollen in it which is necessary for brood rearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all very much.

Maybe I'm not queenless after all.

I'll relax and see if maybe it's just too much syrup/honey in the hive.

I'll check next weekend and see what we have.

There is no space for brood or pollen.

I'll see if I can get a hold of some empty frames or clear some the full frames. I didn't plan on extracting so I don't have equipment. I guees I'll read up on strain and crush...

THANK YOU!
 

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Actually I wouldn't wait and see. It's always best to hedge your bets. Give them some open brood and eggs from another hive. That way IF they are queenless they can make a queen and you don't leave them queenless for several extra weeks, and if they are NOT queenless you don't waste several perfectly good queens trying to introduce them to a hive with a virgin queen. In a couple of days you can look for queen cells. If you have them, they are queenless. If you don't, they probably have a virgin queen or one that will start laying soon.
 

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Bee2,
It appears your bees are doing great, If you want them to fill that super of Bee-O-Pac you should take the top deep off. Force them into a single deep so that they are really crowded.
You will have to watch closely for signs of swarming though. If they are as strong as it sounds they should fill that Bee-O-Pac very quickly if you are in a good flow. After it is filled pull it off and give them a deep full of empty comb and they should do fine.
 
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