Checking Kelly's Bee Colony
One of the interesting things we do as a bee club is help our regular members with their bee colonies. This particular day, we were going to inspect a bee colony that had not been checked in several weeks to add small hive beetle traps and make sure the colony had enough space.
2017 has been a very productive year, so far, for honeybees. Many of my colonies have been nectar and honey bound because we had a mild winter and a very long mild spring, which means the honeybees have had good conditions for making honey for their upcoming winter stores.
Before opening this bee colony, we borrowed some of my extra woodenware and frames; we also made sure to have enough small hive beetle traps filed with a lure in the center box and mineral oil on either side.
In the photo, Kelly S. Bracken, the beekeeper of the colony we were checking, is getting his small hive beetle jails ready.
That basket in front is my beekeeping inspection basket, it has my basic tools for conducting a hive inspection.
Although I tend not to use a smoker, it's good to have one ready and handy, just in case.
Tom Miller volunteered to get the smoker started and to be responsible for keeping an eye on it during the hive inspection.
The pile of kitchen towels? We use them to cover the open hive boxes, helps keep the bees calm while we inspect the frames.
Meanwhile at the hive itself, David Draker is checking around the hive to remove any items that may be unsafe for bees, and beekeepers. alike.
To the right you will see a blackberry bush I pinned to the side so that we wouldn't be caught in its thorns during the hive inspection.
Ok, telescoping lid is off and we expect to find busy bees pulling out wax and making honey. Sure enough, the top two boxes were full of frames of honey and newly-drawn comb.
By the third box, we found baby bees. Each frame was carefully inspected to determine how well the queen is laying and whether she has enough room in the hive.
Here is a closer photo of the frame of brood. So what do you see?
Here is another frame of brood. Anything you notice about this frame?
One more frame up close, this one is clearly nectar-bound, all cells are full of nectar.
We also found drones, or male bees. The cells stick out more and look like pencil erasers.
Another sign of a colony needing space, they build comb on the bottom of frames.
As the colony boxes are put back together, additional boxes with room were added. Each box was also given two empty frames so the bees can easily expand.
In the top boxes, frames full of honey, bees winter stores. Some beekeepers go ahead and harvest honey now, counting on bees being able to collect more for winter. Kelly chose to keep the honey in the top boxes.
Now that all of the boxes are back on, its time to put on the lid.
Here is the new, taller hive with the added boxes and extra room for the bees.
Two small hive beetle traps were added to each of the boxes at a diagonal, reversing their location with each box. I didn't get a photo, it was my job to add the traps so you will just have to take my word for it.
Ok, Kelly, you and your bees should be all set for a few weeks!