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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello friends, it has been a while since I posted (aka the last time I really needed advice)!

So I did my first hive inspections since early December today, I am in Central Florida and don't have a true winter. However, I wanted to leave them alone during the "winter" months and the only time I bothered them was to treat for mites (OAV). Upon inspection, one hive in particular was absolutely bursting with bees, I have been seeing a decent amount of activity on the hives, but this caught me off guard. Both brood boxes were simply packed.

Now, this is my first time trying to inspect with that massive number of bees and they had unfortunately bridged the frames with comb and honey. Pulling off the top box made one heck of a mess and I was trying to scrape the burr comb off as gently as possible (after smoking them off a bit). However, quite a few got rolled up in the comb and honey and trying to put the top box back on resulted in one heck of a crunch despite my efforts to clear the way. I guess my question is, is this something that any of you have been able to avoid or do you just kind of accept the casualties as they come?

Kind of a weird question I know, but I'm just trying to get in the right mindset here. Should I feel that twinge of guilt or just do what needs to be done quickly and get them closed back up?


Looking forward to hearing your opinions, thanks!
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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As a conscientious beekeeper, one tries to minimize the loss of life during inspections. But, sometimes there is no real alternative. Assuming you are setting the hive body down at a 45° angle and twisting into position, some crunching may still occur. As far as bees caught up in the burr comb, try brushing them off first and then move the hive tool slowly. Most of the bees will get out of the way. There will always bee some colateral damage though. It sounds like this hive may need another box or be split if it is that packed.
 

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Not sure, but it sounds like you are new to beekeeping. I would suggest that you inspect more often and do some tidying up every time you inspect. As you gain experience, you will squish less and feel more comfortable around bees. When I first started just a few years ago, my hives seemed to be jamb packed with bees. Later I learned that's the way they are supposed to be. I am not saying you do not need to super or split, you may need to before they swarm on you. J
 

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So I did my first hive inspections since early December today, I am in Central Florida ...
In a warm climate like yours 2 1/2 months is way too much time between inspections. You don't need to inspect them every week, but you should be checking them out more often. Certain times of the year hive conditions can change rapidly and get away from you.

Both brood boxes were simply packed. .... they had unfortunately bridged the frames with comb and honey.
Sounds like supers needed to be added, which should reduce the bridge comb problem. If they have supers added above with a few undrawn frames to work on they will be less likely to store honey in the bridge comb between the brood boxes. They could be out of room now and the gap between boxes might be some of the only options left for them to build new comb and store nectar.
Next inspection I would clean off all the burr comb between the brood boxes and add a super or two. Over time they will replace some of the bridge comb but much less should be filled with honey. That will make it easier to clear the top bars with a few puffs of smoke before restacking the boxes.

We try to minimize casualties from inspections as much as possible, but sometimes there is no way around it. Do what you have to do and move on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the pointers guys!

I did add a super immediately, I was shocked to see that they had stored more honey then I left them when our "cold" weather started. I am hoping they will move some honey up in to the super ASAP, I have a feeling the queen may be getting a little crowded. In the future I will do a bit more management during the winter months, I just did not expect them to keep up at that speed.
 

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Not sure where you are in east Central Florida but I can tell you around the Ocala area they’re going strong, putting up some honey. Willows are blooming around water here. The other night a commercial guy told us they made a super of honey off red maple this year. Said it was the first time in many years that it happened.
 
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