Beehive Inspection Spring 30 November 2021

Due to the losses of my beehives after last Winter, I decided that I couldn’t live without Bees. I love to look out the window and see my girls buzzing around, coming and going… then wander outside and have a look at what they are bringing home.

I decided I must get another colony, but due to my health, I decided just one beehive to start Bee Season 2021 would be good.

So, I found a great Queen breeder, then got a new colony which came as a one-box (langstroth w/ 10 plastic frames 35mm).

  • The beehive came with an Over-Wintered Italian Queen. She has a blue dot.

...but here I go, off in a tangent..…I love Italian Honey Bees – over the years of our beekeeping, I became very fond of the all-round qualities of the Italian colonies – great brood production, excellent house-keeping, lots of propolising and good honey production and my most favourite trait of all – excellent bee behaviour – I found they learnt to use robbing-screens very quickly and also, there seems to be an extraordinary understanding of me as their beekeeper as they had very little agression towards me. I use a tapping method with my hive-tool when inspecting, it lets them know I am coming in I also very little smoke ( this may be because lighting a smoker is my least favourite thing and I am not very good at it..patience my girl ) …okay back to the inspection….okay tangent over

I generally leave new bees alone for at least two weeks (to allow them to settle in).

Then on week three, I start with the first inspection being an “assessment inspection” – taking no action – just checking each frame one-by-one.

Once that has been completed, I plan to go in every two to three weeks in the meantime planning my next move.

Firstly : The goal is to watch progress of the new girls whilst not making any changes because I am waiting to see them build-up ie: increase in bee population.

Handy Hint: For beginnuzz(c), I recommend the one-by-one frame look with no-action, for beginners who are starting out, so that you can just see what is going on and obviously you will learn from just looking.

NOTE : The new girls arrived with a synthetic varroa treatment in, which I left in ( according to instructions ). Previously we have always run our beehives with organic, plant-based varroa treatments ie: OAV, ApiLifeVar.

We always want to manage our hives organically but in this instance it would have been unwise while it was already started.

OK, Going Forward in Terms of Varroa

My goal for this new Beehive will be to change bottom-board to a meshboard with an inspection board, aiming to action in Autumn so I will start organic varroa management with monitoring by watching mite-drops. But of course I may do it sooner : ) depending on what transpires…

Tools used for this inspection

Only using Kiwi Hive Tool, Frame Holder and Smoker today

Fully Suited-Up

I wear my mesh full-bee suit with my gloves – I love to be completely covered. ( This photo is an older one as my suit is no longer that crsipy white ! )

When my new girls arrived, as explained, they came as a one-box colony. Initially I just kept an eye on them – watching how they progressed.

So, based on my assessment inspection, I could see the colony population was increasing well. I established this by checking each frame one-by-one. I found that they were actually using all 10 frames, I used this fact to help my decision-making – no point adding boxes willy-nilly.

In my view… I think the bees manage better when they are well on their way to filling the majority of frames and if they are working on the two outside frames and if there is nectar in the cells – this indicates they need more room – so the ideal time to add another box.

NOTE: You really don’t want to see nectar in amongst the brood cells

So I added a new box which contained 10x wooden frames 33mm with drawn-comb. I integrated two of the wooden frames from the newer box, into BOX ONE (level one) brood level. Below shows the 2x wooden frames I integrated into the Box One. I like to add to the outer sides because they had drawn comb. Do not add to the middle of a brood frame because you do not want to slit the cluster – you want the bees to be able to keep the cluster close.

Below shows that the 2x wooden frames which were moved to Box Two – were placed differently. This is because the comb was drawn so it could be used straight away – presumption is that the queen – will use it to lay in.

You can see one frame was placed into position 4 next to 5th frame which had some brood in it – this meant that it was still in the centre brood area.

The other one, also with drawn-comb, was placed in 9th position, next to a frame whose cells were completely full of nectar so the assumption is that the bees would use it for nectar.

NOTE: If it did not have any drawn-comb, I would have placed it in 10th position and waited until it was drawn.

BOX TWO – mix of brood and nectar

Beehive Set Up – Hive stand

I love having a hive-stand which is much easier for me to manage for my back. It’s 30cm high and 1400cm long and around the width of a langstroth hive box.

The two ends have legs slightly raised to hold the hive in place. There is a mesh bottom-board which came with the hive but it has no inspection board. The hive also came with a feeder, which I removed when I added the second box and once I confirmed the nectar flow was on – which reveals itself by the bees having nectar in cells.

Beehive sits on Hive Stand (30cm high) with only Two Hive Boxes when I started this inspection.

Opening the hive I always remove a couple of frames from the side to place on the frame-holder – this helps with creating space – so I can move frames in and out freely without “rolling” bees which can injure them. Below shows that I have one frame on the frame-holder.

NOTE: Generally the outer side frames in a box (position 1 and 10), only have honey/nectar so can be placed outside the hive but a brood frame should not be left outside the hive in colder weather as it may chill the brood.

BOX ONE : Wow the population is huge
What can you see ?

When I open the hive before I start inspection, I love to look at the bees that come-up to have a look at what is happening. The photo above shows healthy well-formed bees, I couldn’t see any varroa nor could I see any deformed wings or sickly bees. You can see there is a bee carrying pollen sacks.

Not to drone on (oh no) …but we were hoping for Drone bees – can you see one ? – it was great to see that the new-season drone brood have started hatching so this shows that the breeding season for our area is starting…yay…

New Season Laying

Photo below shows a good solid worker brood pattern – these are the start of the new-season bees of bee season 2021.

Nice new season brood on frame which is worker brood – good colour with level cappings
BOX ONE : Some pollen amongst brood – older comb is darker on these plastic frames (which were in the hive when I bought it). Notice that I have used my frame holder.
BOX TWO : happily the newer box added which was full of wooden frames – sees one of the frames now cleaned up with the wax comb cells raised now showing new season brood coming on. Notice that the comb is a lighter colour compared to the older brood frame comb in BOX ONE.

Conclusion

So conclusion after this beehive inspection is that the bees are building-up well. The girls are collecting a lot of nectar and new-season drones and workers are hatching in good health, Queen laying well.

It was important for me to ensure the brood was healthy as in New Zealand at this is the time of the year that we need to conduct our AFB or DECA checks for sign-off by the pest managment agency in their attempt to eradicate AFB.

In saying that, I always check health of bees and brood frames whenever I inspect and recommend that you should always be mindful of bee health at all times.

To find out more about AFB = American Foul Brood – you can checkout the governments pest management agency’s website here https://afb.org.nz/what-is-afb/

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Next BLOG will be all about our next inspection, as i finish this blog the hive is progressing even more and can’t wait to “show-off” their progress….enjoy

Thanks yous

Margaret

Cheers guys we appreciate you very much…bee kind as we head out of the apiary

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