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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Spring of 2018 I started with my first package of bees here in eastern PA. All went well, harvested a little honey, treated for mites in the early fall, and the bees overwintered and are now very busy. I reduced the bottom entrance before winter to a small opening and added an upper opening. I removed the bottom reducer about 2 weeks ago when the temps began to warm up. Now the bees are only using the upper entrance and they are bringing in pollen (3 different colors of yellow). I added some sugar syrup today since the temps are in the mid 60’s and will not go below 45 over the next few days. I am running a two deep 10 frame hive, with a screened bottom board with the board slide in thing in place.

I plan to open the hive tomorrow for my first inspection, the temps are forecast to be mid 60’s and calm winds. With my limited experience I am not sure what I shuould be looking for at this time of year. I do know to look for anything out of the ordinary, and look for stores, brood, pests, etc.. But what else should I be looking for? And also, reversing the boxes... that seems to be a topic that is not universally agreed upon, especially when it comes to timing. I have read that it should not be done until the dandelions bloom, or not until night time temps stay above 50, so I am a little confused. Any and all advice is welcome.

And next week I am adding a second package, and I hope from here on our, I can just do some splits to continue to expand my apiary. (Should have gotten two hives when I started!!!)

Thanks, Paul
 

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Sounds like you are in control of the situation. My first spring operation is to tip the colony on its back and remove the bottom board. This allows me to fan the bottom of the frames and let any trash call out. I put on a fresh clean bottom board or clean the old one and stand the colony back up.

My spring inspections consist of pulling an outermost frame to make room and starting to remove and brush any debris off unoccupied frames. I basically slide the frames into the unoccupied slot across until I get to brood. I do not need to see the queen. All I need to see is a good brood pattern and clean glistening white larvae. When I see that, I am done until warmer weather. Prolonged time in the colony will set the colony back! Consider putting that entrance reducer back on until truly hot weather comes. The bees can produce more brood if their area is easier to climate control. One small entrance is best. That is what a swarm chooses in a new home. Seldom do bees in any climate seek out a cavity with a wide open bottom to chill them on cold nights. SBB's have killed nearly as many colonies as varroa.

When your package comes consider taking a frame of eggs and larvae from your overwintered colony, shaking off all the bees and putting it in the hive body your package is being hived in. This will give them a head start and eggs are easily replaced by your established colony. Give your new bees some drawn comb and feed them until the hive body/s are full of brood bees and stores. Then quit feeding and put on a super! That's why we do this!
 

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"I do know to look for anything out of the ordinary, and look for stores, brood, pests, etc."
That's about it. Walk away after you look and then plan, not look and wing it.

If you can pull some unused drawn frames you package will make better use of them.

I tend to leave the reducer in until a traffic jamb says to open it. Breeze will keep them from going down.

What Vance said
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the info! Great point about the smalll entrance, I put the reducer back on yesterday. Last year I used a deep as my first honey super and I have 10 frames of comb to use for the new package.

The one thing i am unsure of is tipping the hive on its back, my hive is off the ground about 16” as my area has many skunks and critters. Is there an easy way to do this with a raised hive? This may be a silly question but should I just take the top deep off and set it to the side resting it on the upside down outer cover then tilt back the bottom deep?
 

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The only foolish question is the one you do not ask before winging it. Tip it back as you describe or set the bottom on top of the top one if you really need a clear shot to clean the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you.

So I just did a quick inspection, whole cow the hive is FULL of bees! All 10 frames are covered with bees in the top box, the 1st and 10th frame are empty on the outside but still have capped honey on the inside. The outside of the 9th frame has some capped honey and a lot of pollen, and a cluster of capped brood and pollen inside in the upper middle. I was able to look down between the fames and could see a lot of bees on the fames on the lower box. So I closed the hive up and decided to let it bee for another week since it is supposed to cool down to the 50’s for daytime highs from Wed to Sat. I was not prepared to see that many bees!!!

I am kind of at a loss for what to do next. I will be going back to reading old threads! And any help here is appreciated!

Did I mention there were a lot of bees LOL!!!
 

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At the very least if you are two bodies full and have capped brood checkerboard the body you were going to use for the package and slap it on the top of the hive.

You do not want to go into Swarm prep.
 

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I'm not looking into the hive but your description sounds like Your hive is well on it's way to running out of space = swarm preps. It is time to do a thorough check pulling frames, doesn't have to be all frames but get at least 3 or 4 frames to see ; capped or open frames, nectar back filling, etc. Bottom too.
google u tube tipping up to check for swarm cells.
 
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