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This is my first year of beekeeping and I need some advices. I started from scratch, no foundation built whatsoever.

Personally, up until now, I was VERY EXCITED about this new hobby/side line/wanna be a semi-commercial if possible. So far as a new beekeeper, my inspections were going flawlessly up until today... I'm still excited but I got a very bad experience and I felt like ****.

FYI: I bought 2 nucs in june and I was focusing to reproduce bees and split, honey was NOT important for me this year.

But today, I did a throughout inspection of both hives. Each nucs now became 2 deep brood boxes (10 frames full of bees) and 1 empty deep super (combs barely started in the super).

Today I realized the WEIGHT of the boxes (OH , my GOD) this is SOOO heavy. I'm 330, 6 feet and I have shoulders bigger than a door frame. That being said, I'm pretty new with EVERYTHING. But to me, killing a bee is one too many. In my head I'm like there is no way I can inspect without killing so many bees and I wish I could be more delicate but I find it VERY difficult to do so. Although I want to be SUPER gentle with them, they are putting comb everywhere and sticking everything together so I feel like I'm invading their nest A LOT even though I want to be as gentle as possible. To me, this felt almost like a bear tearing up the whole place. It looked impossible for me to NOT crush so many of them, I'm ALWAYS scared to kill my queen when squeezing the frames together, when I'm stacking boxes one over the other and when I put my boxes over my top cover to inspect the bottom box.

So here's what I did : I did my inspection from top to bottom. Took the super off immediately without even looking because I couldn't see any comb (barely started). Then, I inspected the first brood box, and when I was done, I put the brood box on top of my super already sitting on my top cover. Then I checked the bottom brood box completely. Thing is, I couldn't find the queen at ALL in my last 2 inspections, although I checked the 20 frames of brood in each hive. Before, I was able to find them without ANY problem, but now it's like a mystery I can't solve... I was able to find eggs, so I'm not too worried but I'm still ALWAYS worried until I don't clearly identify where she's at. I wish I could just cage her and keep moving with my inspection and relax while I'm doing this.

That being said, when I tried to put back everything together, they were ALL around the place, they were like an ice cream cone melting on the side of the cone. When putting the hive back together, even though I was smoking a lot to clear the top area to put the 2nd brood box back in place, they were immediately back laying around the edges of my bottom box. I tried to do it quick but once I lifted the 2nd brood box it was SOOOO F. heavy I had no choice to put it back on so many bees and resulting of smashing bees again. :( Also, it's taking me forever to inspect only 2 hives I can't imagine having like 40 of them right now to be honest.

I feel like ****, I feel like I lost a bit of my orientation while I was inspecting the hives, this felt so overwhelming after the inspection although I felt very confident up until now. I felt discouraged and I wish I would have been better to find my queen and not stress so bad to kill my queen and bees during my inspection.

I'm ready to get roasted if you feel the need to. But man, let me know what you guys think, any advice/recommendations/questions...?

Am I the only one to feel like that, am I doing this the wrong way?

Let me know and thank you in advance for those caring to help!
 

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When replacing a box onto another box,do not try to match it with corners aligned.
Ofset the top box by a few degrees so they are almost touching at 4 points and rotate the boxes into alignment before you totally set it down.If done correctly,you may squish a few bees but the majority will be swept off the edges by the rotating top box.
Much easier to demonstate than describe.
 

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You're doing fine. Everything is going to be alright.

Don't go crazy with the smoker. The purpose is to 1. trigger them to go back into the hive and chow down on some honey to get ready to run away if there is a forest fire. 2. Block their alarm pheromone signal. After you have done that, much more will irritate them and get them all kind of nervous and excited.

The queen, depending a little on race and how much smoke you use, can be a but runny and shy. She will run from one side of the frame around or through to the other side and she may hide in plain site. She can also be on the inner cover or on the inside wall of the hive. She can be very difficult even for the most experienced queen hunters to find. As for an inspection, it is usually sufficient to find proof that she has been there "recently" in the form of eggs or milk brood larvae. More importantly is the shape of the brood pattern, the amount and placement of resources and the existence of queen cells. As well as evidence of disease or pests.

When placing hive bodies back together you can place one box atop the other diagonally forming an 8 pointed star. Followed by a puff or two of smoke, or a light brush with a feather or *properly used** bee brush. When you feel comfortable, you can then rotate the box into its final resting position. This gives them the fighting chance to get out of the way.

Let's take the killing into perspective. If the queen is laying 1500 eggs a day, then that same number is dying every day as well (give or take). If you are not TF you should be doing alcohol washes for mite counts, that will kill 300 bees at a time. 2 or 3 here and there because the boxes came together on top of one too slow to get out of the way is not going to affect much. But also, remember you are dealing with a "super organism" and the individual bee is just an atomic part of the whole. So think of it more like the blood cells you lose to a blood test, or other flesh that dies with you have a biopsy. Not suggesting you crush them on purpose or willie-nilly, and there are other reasons (like alarm pheromone) not to crush them. So slow and steady and careful are the words of the day. But you don't have to feel that bad about it.

It bothers me that you expect to get roasted. If you meet people who would roast you over such concerns, take notice of them, they are probably mean about other things too.
 

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You will always kill bees inspecting large colonies, there is no way around it. As for the boxes being heavy, I don't know- I run all deep supers and when full of honey they really can get heavy, brood boxes are feather light in comparison :). Try to work on your box stacking technique- I place one edge down and then slowly twist and lower and lift back the box to let them escape. I think I kill more of them between top and bottom frames where they build burr comb always full of nectar and there is no way to get them away from it to scrape... It did bother me at first, but when you look at overall numbers, those few bees that you kill are insignificant to the hive. Spending more time with inspections will cause more harm than killing few bees in quick and efficient inspection. Same with finding queen- unless you have a good reason to find her (splitting, requeening, etc), don't spend too much time breaking the nest apart. Once you saw the eggs and brood pattern, you don't need to locate her every time. One more advice - use inspection cloth(s) - expose only half of the hive during inspection- that will keep them down in the frames and much calmer.
 

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You will get faster with time. My husband is a gentle, mans man. We spend about the same amount of time if we had just 3 colonies vs. 20. You get faster with experience and knowledge of what needs to take more time and more importantly WHEN. Hang in there!
 

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I am always super nervous about killing my queens during an inspection. My area has terrible queen mating so a loss of the queen almost guarantees a loss of the hive for me. That being said, I still get in there and do what I can. I try my best to be gentle and to inspect as little as possible. Always keep in mind that you DO NOT need to find the queen during the inspection. I rarely look for her now a days since I just don't have the time to do that. If I see eggs, I am done and I infer queenrightness from that.

I also totally get your reservation to kill bees. I have found that when people have less than 4 hives, every bee life is sacred, and it is! Between 4 and 8 hives, those feeling begins to subside as you now have plenty of resources to deal with even the most serious of screw ups (both yours or the bee's). It seems that 8 hives is a magic number in beekeeping as that is the point where you have so many resources that your attachment really starts to limit yourself. You begin to learn and experience true patience when it comes to them and for me, it was a major milestone reaching that point (I started off with two as well) and has made beekeeping significantly less stressful.

Also, as for the hive weight, yeah, 10 frame deeps weigh a ton. A 10 frame deep super can weigh over 40 kg. Since you don't have a lot invested in equipment yet, I would suggest you change over to all mediums, they are only 2/3 the size of a deep and much lighter and easier to manipulate. I use all medium equipment for the brood chamber (3 medium boxes) and medium supers and they are a manageable weight.

I would be careful about splitting as they may not have enough time to build up to full colony status before the winter unless you are planning to overwinter in single deeps which is very common in Canada.

Also, no one is going to roast you here without constructive criticism, if they do, they are bad beekeepers and should be unwelcome in this community.
 

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You will kill bees, you can minimize it by following the advice given. My additional advice is do some housekeeping when you inspect. Scrape off propolis on the rails as well as burr comb. When inspecting, you only need to look at a couple frames of brood to check for eggs or disease. You can check for stores at a glance. You need not look at every frame and it is disruptive and serves no purpose to do so. J
 

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Let me tell you!!! I am relieved to hear this actually (thought i was the only one). I too am a first year beekeeper with big aspirations. I also started with 2 bare bones boxes and frames and dumped in packages of bees. My first big frustration came late when I realized one of my queens was not mated and was only laying drones. I freaked out and started contacting all kinds of professionals for help only to pinch the queen and do a newspaper combine with the two hives. Once summer was in full swing I had one massive colony with two deeps and one super packed with honey and brood and more bees than I was expecting. I found myself working slow...realllly slow with the same fear you have. I can only imagine that it gets better as you gain more confidence, so don't worry because I am experiencing the exact same thing as you!!
 

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Fivej---Thats is the advice that I really needed to hear I find myself getting too involved and next thing I know i'm surrounded by hundreds of bees.
 

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It's sounds like you may be pulling all of the frames out of each box and laying them down somewhere. You only want to pull one frame from the box you are inspecting. Then separate one frame at a time push it to the space you have freed up. Lift the current frame that you are inspecting out, look at it and then put it back in the box. Also, I found after a while that I only needed to take a look at a couple of frames to know how the hive was doing. This will entail less work and will disturb the bees less leading to fewer dead bees. Good luck to you!
 

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I know I'm a few weeks behind this and do apologize because your experience is one that, I think, we've all shared at one time or another. It's debilitating in the extreme to think you are doing more harm than good! Particularly when you are in it for the bees and not the honey. The best advice is the reply above, suggesting you remove only a couple of frames to make room so you can slide the frames over and have a peek. (buy a frame holder if you don't have one - they fit onto the side of the hive box) then do as noted above. Here's the thing: You don't have to see your queen to know she is there. If there are eggs, larvae and capped brood, you know she's at work. Less is nearly always more - unless you suspect your colony is having other issues. You obviously care about the bees! Don't get discouraged - the bees need you! c
 
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