First Bee Hive Inspection

So yesterday evening, after I woke up after my work shift, I inspected the bee hive for the first time since installing my package.  The weather was warm enough that I felt it was safe for the bees for me to open the hive up.  So I got a bee shirt on, a bee hat and the smoker ready and headed out to the hive.  Tom came along as a photographer, and we had the dogs too.

I am basing my inspection on what I had learned from the books and magazine that my cousin Jay Reynolds had given me as well as some other books I have since bought.  But everyone said the most helpful thing was to take a class from an experienced bee keeper.  Unfortunately with the pandemic that is not possible locally so I enrolled in an online class from HoneyBeesOnline.com.  I also sent in my membership fee to Skagit Valley Beekeepers Association.  I fellow spinner whose son raises bees highly recommended I do this despite the lack of classes now.  I have since noted a mentorship program on their website and a woman I know on the list so this may be a tremendous asset to me.

So here I am opening the top of the super which has the top feeder in it.  I am getting ready to smoke the bees.

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I took the super frame off to exposed the top feeder.

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Then I smoked under the feeder and the inner cover.

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I took the feeder off, placed a board over the opening in the inner cover and smoked again.

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Here is the inner cover off exposing the frames.  They were smoked further.

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Here is Ryeleigh at this time, looking at Tom, the photographer.  She gets pretty close to the action even though she was recently stung by a bee on her tongue.

Ryeleigh

Here is a closer view of the top of the frames.  Tom was able to get fairly close from the front of the hive for photos, and he did not have any bee gear on.  They were pretty docile.

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Here is a shot he took of the bees coming in for a landing at the hive entrance.  One thing I love about bees (and had forgotten) is how cute they are when they land and then waddle in to the hive.  It is so endearing.

bees coming into hive

Here I am starting to remove frames for inspection.

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Here is another frame with more bees on it.  You can see the hard hat inside my veil is off kilter somewhat interfering with my vision.  One of many things that needs to be improved upon with my future inspections.

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Here are closer views of the top and sides of the frames.

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Here I am removing the queen cage.

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Here is the queen cage that I removed.  We later determined that the queen was no longer in the cage.

queen cage

Here I am smoking the frames more.  I did smoke a lot, likely contributed to by my nervousness about being stung.  I did not have my full bee suit on (since I had spilled sugar water all over it and had to throw it out) and I have large local reactions to bee stings which have precluded me from working in the past.  So I am trying to be extra cautious.

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Meanwhile Tom took some amazing photos of the bees on our apple blossoms.  You can see Steve in the background.  Steve does not like bees or any insect for that matter.  So he keeps his distance from the hive.

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Basically these photos represent conceptions of our future apple.  So exciting!

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And this is an amazing shot of the bee flying and you can see the pollen packed on its legs.

bee flying neat apple blossom

Here is a video Tom took of me pulling out one of the frames.  I can see wax, nectar and some caps.  I cannot see the queen and am not noticing any eggs yet either.

Here is a stunning video of the frame with all of the bee activity.

So that was my first inspection.  It was somewhat of a failure in that couldn’t see the queen or any eggs, but otherwise everything seemed fine.  My smoker stopped working in the middle of the procedure which I didn’t like.  We have some natural fire starters we are going to use next time that should keep the smoker working for longer.  I will get a full bee suit before the next inspection in about 10 days.  I am going to do it a little early as they have drawn out a lot of wax in a short amount of time, and I think it will be time for a super with frames then.

In addition to helping me with my inspection, Tom made us a lovely dinner last night.  It was Grilled Double-Cut Pork Chops with Rhubarb Mostarda using our pork chops and rhubarb.

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Above is the photo of the dinner.  It was truly amazing.  This recipe is definitely a keeper. We will probably use less sugar in the future though.  And by the way I ate about half of the meat on the plate.  This is also true for most of the dinner plates I photograph for this blog.

A few days ago I made a Galette for the first time.  It had asparagus, leeks and Ferndale Fontina cheese in it.  I skipped the mushrooms since Ton doesn’t eat them.  I used the Old-Fashioned Flaky Pie Dough recipe they suggested.  I made this while Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was playing so it was a little surreal.  But here is the galette all cooked up.

img_2792It was amazing.  Almost too good.  The crust was flaky and wonderful,  and the filling was lovely.  And I was able to pull this off with our oven still lacking a functional bottom element (we have one on order).  So this was quite the feat.  Both Tom and I agree that we should make this again for special occasions.

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6 Responses to First Bee Hive Inspection

  1. Jeanne says:

    How very interesting! But what will you do, if there really is no queen in the hive? Can you get just a queen? Would the workers accept a new one, if such were a possibility?

    The dinner Tom made looks delicious! And your galette looks yummy!! I wish I could try that. It’s too bad that Tom doesn’t enjoy mushrooms! They are so good!

    Did Ryeleigh have much of an allergic reaction to her bee sting? It must have hurt, having it right on her tongue!

    • Donna says:

      I think there is a queen. I am just having a hard time seeing her. The dinners were yummy. And Ryeleigh did not have a reaction to her sting, which is good. Hopefully she will learn not to eat them! Donna

      • Jeanne says:

        I hope there actually is a queen in your hive! Let me know if and when you find out!
        I’m glad Ryeleigh didn’t have a reaction to her bee sting. My mini Schnauzer was stung once and had a huge amount of swelling. Poor baby! I really miss having a dog of my own. It’s nice that my daughter shares her service dog with me. He loves me almost as much as he loves her. 🙂

      • Donna says:

        I am sorry about your dog’s reaction but thankful that Ryeleigh didn’t have one. But she might not be so lucky next time.

  2. Rebekah says:

    My parents keep bees. If you do not have a full suit, they highly recommend tucking in all clothes (shirt into pants, pant hems into socks, etc.). This will help keep you (and the bees!) happy. Also, do NOT eat bananas right before tending the bees–it makes them mad. Good luck on your bee adventure!

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