Tag Archives: beehive inspection

Beekeeper on Vacation

Fast Eaters, Fast Builders

We left our bees alone with as much food as we could find space for and left on vacation.  We were gone for a little over two weeks and kept our fingers crossed the whole time.  We weren’t sure there would be enough sugar water for them since they’ve been taking the food pretty fast.  Some of them had already started foraging before we left and there are plenty of flowers and trees in the area.  However, they are new in the neighborhood and we didn’t want the queen to take her brood and abandon the hive.

It wasn’t a good vacation.  I spent a lot of time worrying about them.  What are they going to do when the food runs out?  Are they going to be robbed?  Will they be there when we get back?  I showed our neighbor, Natalie, how to feed them if necessary but cautioned her not to bother.  I didn’t want to burden her or have her be accidentally stung.  She fed them anyway and was stung as a reward.  She also changed the water in the birdbath close to the hive, a genuine kindness as bees need access to clean water.

We staggered in from the airport around 11 pm and I went out to check on them with a flashlight before the luggage left the car.  I didn’t open the hive, I just checked at the entrance to see any sign of bees.  I let my breath out when little faces looked back at me from the entrance hole.

Note to self:  Don’t start a new hive before going on a vacation.

All four feeders are empty.

We checked all the feeders early the next morning; all empty.  We removed the top feeders and just fed them from the front single as we always do.  We did the second inspection and to our amazement, the second super we added before we left was half full.  Three racks were filled with capped cells, two racks were either half or three quarter filled.  Bees all over the place.  We decided to add one more super… give them some room to expand the brood.

From what I have read, we have to feed them until they stop taking it.  I hope they stop taking food soon since they consume about 10 lbs. of sugar every three days.  That is quite a lot of sugar.  What do I know, this may be nothing to the bee standard.  If they’re happy, I’m happy.  I just wish I had a bigger feeder so I won’t have to fill it three times a day.

Our second inspection. Checking the top super.
A rack filled with capped cells from the top super.

First Inspection

Happy Bees

We did the first inspection of our hive today.  It was a little late.  We were supposed to inspect it in a week after we set up a new hive, but we let it go for a week and a half.   We wanted to do it within the time frame of one week, but either we came home after dark or the weather was bad.   We’ve been checking on them every day, though.  Actually, it has been more like feeding them everyday.  We have gone through 15 pounds of sugar in  a week and a half.

Our first inspection.

Everything has gone according to plan.  It was an uneventful inspection for novices; Bill decided to take part in raising this family of thousands.  No one got stung.  I did test the smoker on my skin first as I was instructed to make sure that it was not hot.  I think a beekeeper has to love the bees in order to do the test on himself first.  Our Italian bees were very friendly and weren’t upset when we were disturbing their peaceful life.   Come to think of it, the smoker wasn’t even necessary.

Most cells were filled.

The cells in one of the frames were almost full with new brood larvae.  Two more frames were half full and they had also started to fill some cells on the third and forth frames, outwardly from the middle.   All eight frames have been worked on in various degrees.  The cells were either sealed, or filled with larvae and sugar syrup.  This is good news for us in that we know the queen is hard at work reproducing and the workers are doing their job.

There are plenty of trees and water sources in the neighborhood for them to forage since we live in a watershed area.  We also have plenty of birdbaths and a large variety of flowers, all organically grown.  The only thing that works against them is having to mow the lawn, so go the dandelions and clover.  I think the environment helps them build up their colony at an impressive rate.  Not to mention 15 pounds of sugar.  But as long as they are happy, we’re happy.

I added one more super on, just in case they need more room in a week or so.

Plenty of capped cells
Larvae filled cells