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Inspecting a double-deep hive yesterday, a complete mess

3607 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  bbruff22
Folks, I found a 2010 thread on this subject, but it wasn’t very specific, so I’ll post this.

I had a hive swarm on 6/8, and I wanted to know if it had been able to get a queen raised, mated, and back to the hive. The hive is a double deep configuration. I decided to inspect.

I started by inspecting and removing 5 frames from the top deep and setting them in a deep I brought down for the task. I then inspected the next 5 and separated the second deep and sat it on the ground, on its side. I didn’t find the queen. I found a lot of capped honey, curing honey, many many drones, and workers…no queen.

I then moved down to the lower deep, frame by frame, finding about the same I found up top, with some capped brood, but many drones. I could not find the queen.

The bees got really surly about half way in, and started to try to tag me. I used more smoke, but the bees from the top deep were most of the problem. They were furious, and loud.

Thoroughly drenched with sweat, and very aggravated at not finding my queen, I started to reassemble my mess. I crushed many bees getting the second deep back on. I could not get them off the edges of the boxes. It was a total mess.

I’ve never had a problem finding my queens before, but I’ve never had so many drones to wade through. They constantly drew my eye. So, I can’t say for sure that I’m queenless, but I could not find her. So, I broke my hive apart, crushed a lot of bees, and still know no more than I did. I’m disgusted.

How does one do a double-deep inspection without this type of mess? More specifically, how do you keep the top deep bees calm while you inspect? Thanks for any advise.
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Going upon what you have described, it sounds so much like a hive that I had this spring that went queenless. Same type of behavior from the bees, same way they loaded up the hive. Only diff was I know mine didn't swarm, they just lost the queen. After seeing no real brood in mine, I sat a frame in that had a queen cell on it that was set to emerge in two days. Went back into the hive 2 weeks later to find that the queen had emerged, mated, and had been laying the place up for at least 9 days as there was now capped brood. Bees all calmed down and was as gentle as could be again. If i were in your shoes i'd go ahead and give them a frame with eggs and young larva to make a new queen with.
To keep the top box quiet take several hand towels with you during inspections. I inspect the top box then immediately cover it with a hand towel, remove this box and set it aside with the towel still on it. You will be surprised at how calm the bees are in this covered box. As for the overflowing bees that are being crushed try setting the second box back in place at a 45 degree angle then slowly turn the box till it comes into alignment, you will crush very few bees this way. Sometimes when the bees are just boiling out of the hive the only way to get them to back off is to give them a little smoke, they will retreat very quickly. :)

Note: It would be best get hand towels that you can dedicate to hive inspections as they will get propolise on them, your spouse might not be to happy with that.
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You would think that there would be some young brood even if it was drones. Try the eggs but if it is too far gone you might be looking at dumping one.
I use a small wedge of wood when reassembling the hive. It's about 4 or 5 inches long, a little more than 1 inch wide, and about 1 inch tall. I set it at the back edge towards the center. Puff of smoke at the front then line up the front edges of the boxes. Lower the back on to the wedge. A few more puffs of smoke, then slowly wiggle the wedge out. Only a few bees get squished. When they're riled, just focus on the task and don't think about the bees. As Rusty from Honey Bee Suite says, "don't think, just do."

I like the towel idea. Sometimes I put a cover on.
I don't think it's time to see eggs yet. If you still have capped brood then your new queen probably needs another week. The reason you have so many drones is that their drawn to a hive that might provide some ( action) and also as she is returning from her mating flights some drones will follow her home.
A frame of eggs won't hurt and it might help.
I like the towel idea. Sometimes I put a cover on.
I prefer a towel because you can lay it over the box without worry of crushing bees and any bees on top of the frames will move down into the box, however I have used solid covers in the past and they do work as well.
Folks, thanks so much for the tips and information. I'm going to suck it up and try this again next weekend, using the ideas given here. I really wish like heck I had covered the top deep bees now. That might have really helped. It was sunny here. I've got a queenright hive next to it, so if I don't see any capped brood next weekend, I'll add a frame of eggs.
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