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I think I might have killed one of my queens while doing a hive inspection a few weeks ago. So what should I do to avoid doing it again.

Thanks, Michael
 

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I think I might have killed one of my queens while doing a hive inspection a few weeks ago. So what should I do to avoid doing it again.

Thanks, Michael
I installed 9 frame separator bars/brackets in all of my brood nest boxes. This allows for a little extra room between frames and a bit better ventilation. Even still, it is best to start with the outside frame or frame that has not yet been drawn out in comb and remove it first, then you can much more easily move the other frames over and up for inspection. NEVER use force to pull a frame from the brood nest. Sometimes when all of the frames are drawn out in comb, you find that you have to remove 2 frames at the same time to prevent crushing comb. In short, do what you have to do to very gently remove each frame for inspection.
 

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For me this is the riskiest time of the year because the queen can be laying on the outside frames. Luckily, it's also the safest time of year because if I kill the queen they can easily make another.
 

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I put the hive tool in and use it like a lever to push all the frames away from one side to the other side, this gives a very small space on that one side. I then carefully pull that outside frame and look it over, then set it aside in a spare box I have with me, or lean it up against the outside of the hive box side. The next frame I pull over into the opening created from removing that first frame with my hive tool, then carefully lift and inspect. I then return it into the opening and pull it over to the side, then repeat with all the next frames. No bee rolling on any frames after that first one, and it is only light if any.
 

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Always try to remove the frame slowly and straight up without touching the other frames. Cull bad comb, fat areas are bee killers. When pushing frames together a little smoke will move the bees away from the self spacing areas. Clean the propolis from the frames so that the frames don't crowd the sides of the box. Use a division board and 9 frames in a 10 frame box, but keep the frames pushed together to keep the 10 frame center to center spacing. Again, cull bad comb and don't let yourself get in a rush. Remember, in late spring when the queen is laying like mad, she can be anywhere searching for cells to lay in. Don't believe the book when it says quees are seldom on the inner cover or on the side combs.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks to everyone. I must have done it when I pulled a few frames apart. How do you cull the bad comb, just whatever is past the frame?
 

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its all technique and routine : always separate one of the outermost frames by inserting hive tool between the ears of IT and the second frame. pull outermost frame out towards the inner wall of the hive body. lift STRAIGHT up....make sure being careful to NOT let the end bars ride along the inside of the hive body. inspect frame to make sure it is stores of nectar,honey or pollen (which they usually are) with NO queen. set frame aside out side the hive body. now u have more room to pull frames apart to pull them out easier.

Once u do it repeatedly like this it becomes routine.
 

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I suspect I've rolled at least one, and perhaps two of my lost six queens this year. Both times, it must have been when I was putting the frames BACK IN the hive body. I was careful lifting them, after removing an outer frame first as described above, spotted a very alive marked queen, replaced all the frames and pushed them back together gently, then came back 10 days later to find only capped brood and emergency queen cells. My club members would shrug and say "It happens." For me, I must be squishing them when pushing frames together.
 

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A habit that I've gotten into when inspecting to safeguard my queen(s) is to catch her in a queen clip whenever I see her and put her in my pocket. I then complete my inspection, put everything back together, and then release her back into the hive through the hole in the inner cover, or between top bars. That way I know I left the hive with a live queen!:thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
A habit that I've gotten into when inspecting to safeguard my queen(s) is to catch her in a queen clip whenever I see her and put her in my pocket. I then complete my inspection, put everything back together, and then release her back into the hive through the hole in the inner cover, or between top bars. That way I know I left the hive with a live queen!:thumbsup:
That is a great idea. I am going to have to use that one for sure. Thanks for the input.
 

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If you have not been into the hive recently, I have found it worth while to crack the upper box loose and tilt the front of it up which will allow you to examine from the bottom; you may see big wads of drone brood or queen cells that would cause damage pulling them straight up. It will give you a better idea which frame to pull. You risk some damage blindly shoving a gang of frames over when they are bridged to lower box frames. If I decide to cut some of this off you can slide the box ahead and stand it up on the lower box. (Careful you dont have it fall over backwards, that really ticks off the bees!)
 
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