A Bee Story – Beekeeping Session Four
Photo Credit: Public Domain
Sunday was session four for my beekeeping training. The weather was cool and dreary which is not the best time to do hive inspections. Why is that? Because the forager bees tend to stay inside the hive when it is cold so, more bees to deal with when you open up the hive.
It was amazing. We were separated into groups of about 20 people each. The beekeeper did a safety check of my bee-suit and gloves before I walked up the hill to the hive field. I was in the blue group this time so I looked for the blue flag and joined the rest of the group at our section of hives. The purpose of this session was to practice performing health inspections on the hive.
We started out learning how to light a smoker. Pieces of burlap were used as fuel. Using the smoker temporarily calms the bees. Caution is imperative because if you aren’t careful you can start fire which would be very bad. Be aware of where you put the smoker after using, it is smoldering and can easily be knocked over.
I learned the proper way to use the hive tool to take off the lid of the hive. There were bees clumped on the inside of the lid. I firmly shook off the bees and leaned the lid against the corner of the hive making sure to not block the entrance. I then used the tool to slowly pry up the end-most frame. There weren’t many bees on the frame there was no comb. Once again, I shook off the bees and leaned the frame against the lid.
You're supposed to remove 2 frames to make room to slide the remaining frames. You work your way toward the middle of the hive until you see what you are looking for as a health check. You have to confirmed that the queen is laying eggs, that there are brood cells and honey cells. You do not look at every frame. The quicker you are in and out the less stressful it is for the bees.
Third frame in and I was able to see brood cells, eggs and honey, so all was well. I carefully put the frames back into the hive taking care to not crush any bees and put back on the lid.
One of the highlights of this session was when the beekeeper drew our attention to a frame he was holding and pointed out one on the cells at the exact moment a brand-new bee finished breaking through the cap and climbed out. The beekeeper exclaimed “I’m a daddy!” Very cool!
One thing that I figured out was that the veil of my bee-suit is annoying. When I leaned over to look into the hive it flopped forward and knocked my baseball cap into my face – over and over. I need to have a hat of some kind under the veil to protect against the sun. I guess the one I was wearing wasn’t tight enough. Note to self – get a better fitting hat.
At the next meeting, it will be June, it will be hot. The topic will be a continuation of hive health more specifically disease and mites. I can’t wait for next month.