Yesterday we inspected the bees again. I (Margaret) had been at work for the past couple inspections, so it was nice to get back in there and check on them. The hive seems to be progressing nicely from the swarm. We have about 12 full frames of bees, and saw all stages of the bee life cycle in progress, as well as the queen, so I am starting to feel like our hive may be doing ok. We still don’t have as many bees as we did right before the swarm, which I guess is a good thing, since they found the neighborhood too crowded to stay last time.

Our inspection methodology is getting much more efficient through the summer and we started with the bottom box. There was a little burr comb on the top of the frames, but as it wasn’t harming anything we chose to leave it there.

The outer frames didn’t have much capped brood, but we did see some pollen collecting starting.

You’ll also notice the presence of frame grabbers in this week’s photos. Rob says he likes it – essentially you have a big claw that you squeeze and use to lift the frames. A nice part is if any bees get squished, it’s the frame grabber that gets the stinger and not your finger. It’s also a bit easier to lift the frame out according to Rob. I found it more cumbersome overall; with the heavy frames it didn’t feel as secure as just using your two hands to me. It was nicer for loosening frames and for ease of flipping the frame over to see the other side.

We were glad to see a good brood pattern this inspection. The middle frames in both the bottom and the top box were filled with brood. We saw capped brood, newly hatched bees, eggs, and larvae. Below we managed to capture a new bee chewing its way out!

We moved from the bottom box into the top box and were pleased to see more brood and the queen! You won’t mistake her for a worker bee, she’s much larger:

Always a relief to find the queen, we gently put her frame back in the top box.

Another exciting item this inspection was once again seeing pollen laden bees entering the hive. The goldenrod in our backyard is just beginning to flower, so we’re hoping that the flow produced by it will allow the bees to build their stores up for winter. Here is a bee with some pollen on an outside frame of the top hive body:

In addition to looking for the queen and signs of a healthy bee life cycle, any good hive inspection also needs to include a look for pests and pestilences which may be in the hive. We joined pretty much every beekeeper in North America when we found varroa mite in our hive. The discovery was not surprising, as we had done a mite count earlier, but I found it pretty interesting to actually see a varroa mite for myself. Sure enough, it’s just a red spot on the bees back. You can almost hear her asking her sisters: “Hey, can you scratch my back; I think I’ve got something on it?”

Finally we replaced the top super. The bees had been eating their honey stores – either to get them through the dry spell until the goldenrod or to feed themselves until they had enough foragers to go get more; we’re not sure which. At any rate the honey stores are once again being built back up and we saw new honey almost ready for capping in both the honey super and the top hive body.

We did destroy just at tiny bit of the bees hard work to taste some honey and it was incredibly delicious! I am not sure if it’s the forage near our house or simply parental pride, but our bees honey tasted so much more amazing than the honey I bought at the Farmer’s market the other day (also from Freeport)!

So I’ll leave you all with this piece of advice, don’t cut that lawn! Let the clover grow tall and make sure your local bees are all fed up for winter!