Saturday, May 9, 2009

First Inspection

It was sunny and warm, about 75 degrees with little wind. We dressed up, fired up the smoker and went out to do our first inspection of the hive other than checking the feeding can. Our goal was to see if the bees were building up comb and to see if we could locate the queen. I had wanted to take pictures but we felt we needed to concentrate on the task this first time. I will get photos next time.
Although a number of bees were flying in and out of the hive, it was interesting how many were in the frames and on top of the frames in the top box. There were some up in the box housing the feeding can but only a dozen or so. Once we smoked, then removed, the inner cover, we saw hundreds of bees in the frames and many on top of them. I removed the frame farthest back, which had no bees or comb built up on it. We moved a couple frames over, then pulled a frame out to inspect. The whiteness of the new comb they had built up was surprising. It looked clean and fresh. Our previous experience had been older frames we passed around during the class session, which were dark in color and obviously older. In many of the cells we found yellow substance which we assumed was pollen. There were hundreds of bees on the frame and they simply proceeded on with their work, pretty much ignoring us. I don't think any bees even landed on us the whole time we did the inspection.
We examined several frames similarly. They were heavier than I had imagined and I found it a little difficult to hold them. I need to work out a method for keeping the hive tool handy while having both hands available to handle the frames.
We did not see any eggs or clearly identified larvae. The queen was also not obvious. We did not inspect any in the lower box, however, and most likely that is where we would probably find eggs and larvae. We didn't want to push the bees any further or press our luck, and since they clearly were busy building up on the foundation and appeared healthy and active, we decided to close the hive and wait for a day next week to examine the first hive box. One step at a time.
We also will need to apply the second application of the tetracycline for control of American foul brood at that time.

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