Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our visit to Honey Bee Lane

This weekend Hubby and I were finally able to get into the bee hive and get those little ladies ready for the Spring nectar flow.  This time around we went through every single frame looking for signs of disease and replacing any damaged frames.  Our other goal for our morning visit was to check for a healthy queen and evaluate/treat the bees for varroa mites.  We are definitely newbies at this bee keeping thing but we are enjoying the learning process.  Saturday's visit to "Honeybee Lane" was quite successful.  Hubby and I didn't seem to aggravate the little ladies too much and neither of us were stung!

Duct taped shoes is especially important for those pesky ladies that like to crawl up pants legs!

This is me removing the top of the hive....I know....bee suits are not the most flattering attire!

After removing the top of the hive, Hubby removed the medium honey super and the top brood chamber and placed them on a piece of plywood.  This allowed us to go through the bottom brood chamber first.  
 Just look at that proper lifting technique!  That brood chamber was heavy!

This is the bottom brood chamber.  You can see the top super, and brood chamber there in the left of the picture.  Here Hubby is cleaning up the top of the frames, removing extra comb.

This is me removing a frame from the bottom brood chamber for inspection.

Lots of healthy ladies!

 Up close, you can see the pollen attached to some of the bee's legs!

This frame had some damaged foundation so it was replaced...
  You can see the new frame among the older ones, the ladies will be happy about that!  New foundation always get's the bees excited and busy building new comb!

After we inspected all of the frames in the bottom brood chamber we dusted the entire chamber with a cup of powdered sugar.  This is a non-chemical method of measuring and controlling varroa mites on the bees.  The theory is that if you dust the bees with the sugar, not only do the mites fall off, but the bees also groom each other to get the sugar, in turn helping clean off more mites. 
After dusting the bees, we placed a grid under the hive to measure the number of mites.

Next we went through all of the frames in the top brood chamber.  As we inspected the frames we placed them into a chamber box.  This rotation of boxes helps to preserve the boxes and makes them easier to clean each year.  
 Lots of bees in this hive body.  This is where we found evidence of the queen, newly laid eggs, and lots of uniform, healthy looking brood.  There were also a few frames of honey.
 After inspecting these frames and placing them in the new box, we dusted this box with sugar as well.  Then we went through the honey super to evaluate the food storage.  Looks like our bees still have at least 20lb or more of honey stored in their hive!  

Here is a frame from the honey super, this one is almost completely full of honey!  This tells us our bees should have enough food to get through the remainder of the winter and early Spring, which is essential this time of year.  Many bees die of starvation in the late winter.  We will continue to evaluate their food storage and feed them if they begin to run low on food before the nectar flow. 

By far this was the most exciting experience with our bees.  They were calm and our intrusions seem to have caused minimal upset in their hive.  I have a few videos as well that I hope to post soon.    In the next month we will add new honey supers for our own honey collection!


  1. I would love to have my own bees, but, I'm a little squeemish about the little buggers. lol. You guys looked like you did a good job.

  2. We did the same this past weekend (well,mostly Janet - new metal knee isn't well yet). Saw some new capped brood which is encourging!

  3. SFM, yeah we love working with them, Frank, we had some capped brood too which always a good sign! This was a perfect weekend for beekeeping!

  4. Bees are so fascinating. Yours look very healthy. My daddy has hives, so we get to enjoy the fruits of his labors--I guess that would be the bees' labors, wouldn't it? Ha!

  5. Wow, what amazing pictures! Your bees really do look healthy and happy. And you look great in your bee outfit!