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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, everyone!

My husband and i are new to beekeeping, and so far, the experience has been nothing short of exhilarating. We recently completed our first inspection, and i thought i'd post a few photographs in the hopes of getting a little feedback from experienced eyes (we've read a few books on beekeeping, but can anything really prepare a person for being in the middle of over 20,000 honeybees?).

May 5th, 12 Days After Installation, 2 Packages of Italian Honeybees in 2 New Top Bar Hives

First Hive - No Cross-Combing, Seems Queenright
Her Majesty, The Queen




I'm almost sure i see eggs, center right ...


Larvae and covered brood ...


Not sure what's going on beneath the bustle of bees ...


Second Hive - No Cross-Combing, Seems Queenright

The Bashful Queen


Larvae and covered brood ...


Honey? Or nectar?


Such brave girls we have. The very moment the hives were closed back up, they took to the fields again to gather pollen and do what bees do.
Does that entrance look a little too crowded? Is it time to give the girls more room?


Next Saturday, we'll do our 2nd inspection (Day24). Is there anything specific we should be looking for, or just more of the same?

Thanks, everyone. What a thrill it all is!
 

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Your seccond hive is definately queenright. I see her on the left-hand side or your sixth photo. That is a nice pair or hives that you have.
 

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Beautiful!!! Makes me want a top bar now!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh, these responses are so encouraging! Thank you everyone ...

Jwcarlson, according to my notebook, the combs on that day were as follows:

First Hive
(3) almost fully drawn;
(1) over 1/2 drawn;
(1) a little less than 1/2 drawn; and
(1) golf ball sized.

Second Hive
(1) a little less than 1/2 drawn;
(2) 1/2 drawn
(2) 3/4 drawn;
(1) 1/4 drawn; and
(2) golf ball sized combs (on one bar).

Through the observation windows, it's easy to see they've made swift progress since then. The anticipation of what we'll find when we open the hive is so intense! :)

Djei5, with admittedly nothing else to compare them to, we've been extremely pleased with the Top Bar hive design. They're very easy to manage, and the observation window is a "must have" feature in my opinion.

Thanks again, everyone, and as always, additional feedback, advise, critiques, etc. are most welcome.
 

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(we've read a few books on beekeeping, but can anything really prepare a person for being in the middle of over 20,000 honeybees?).

Is there anything specific we should be looking for, or just more of the same?
I had to laugh when I read "but can anything really prepare a person for being in the middle of over 20,000 honeybees?" When I got my nuc last year and opened it up, it was so exciting, but there was also a moment when I looked into that loud, buzzing box and thought, "Oh, what have I done now?" Of course the excitement took over, though, because I'm completely hooked.

Love the photos! Your girls are absolutely gorgeous!

Recently, I attended a lecture by Chris Harp of http://honeybeelives.org, and he said something that I thought was very interesting. He mentioned that when looking at the brood pattern, don't just look at the pattern of the capped brood. Look at the pattern of eggs being laid/larvae in cells. The reason was that capped brood may be spotty if bees are removing larvae (which they will do for various reasons -- this is normal) or if bees are emerging. He said that looking at the egg pattern will give a better picture of the queen's laying ability.

Good luck with your hives!
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Fascinating, fruitveggirl! On Saturday, i'll try to get a few photographs of unobstructed comb so i can look for patterns (they do cling to that comb, don't they?). I remember reading something about a horseshoe pattern, and made a mental note to investigate further.

PS: I just clicked on your blog link, fruitveggirl - it's absolutely wonderful! I'm putting it on my home page. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hello, everyone!

Just to follow up, we removed the entrance reducers today in order to minimize the congestion (pictured above) that occurs during peak foraging hours (which seems to be pretty much all day). I have a bit of anxiety about it, but they seem to be handling it just fine (knock wood).



We're also experiencing a small heat wave today, with temperatures around 90 degrees. I though a little more ventilation through the entrance might be useful.

Thoughts?
 

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Gorgeous pictures! I loved looking at them.

Something else with brood pattern -- in Jurgen Tautz book "The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism", he identifies two new workers castes, one of which is the "heater bee". This bee crawls into the comb spaces between larvae and vibrates, creating heat -- this heat, in turn, appears to have some impact on the eventual role of the bee in the hive, with scouts/foragers tending to be larvae raised at higher temperatures. So, it might also bee that empty spaces are left deliberately so that heater bees can do their thing! I've wondered when looking at brood comb with a bee buried head-first in an empty space if she were cleaning or heating!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you so much for your response, msscha, and for sharing such fascinating information. I love seeing their shiny bottoms sticking up out of a cell! :)
 

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Did you get your hives from Bee Thinking in Portland?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you, Matt903! It was our "gut" feeling as well to increase the size of the entrance, so we went ahead and did it. They don't seem at all challenged by the extra space, and it's kind of neat to occasionally see three or four bees, equidistant and on guard inside the opening.
 
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