This week we are traveling back in time to report on the last hive inspection, which took place on 24 July, a very hot and humid Saturday morning. This was a big day for Sunny Day Farms: the Head Beekeeper was away for four weeks on business and it was time for an inspection, so the Assistant Beekeeper stepped up to lead the inspection, and our newest teammate suited up as Acting Assistant.
The Head Beekeeper had asked for a complete report, so we asked a trusted acquaintance to help us document the inspection. The Assistant Beekeeper finds it very confusing to remember what we see on each super and frame straight, so having a notetaker available is a huge help. The Head Beekeeper left us inspection report forms, and expected lots of details.
As we readied ourselves for this new adventure, I was reminded of King Henry’s lament: Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. It may have been the heat the day before, but the Assistant Beekeeper didn’t sleep well before the big morning, what with so many troubles to worry about: wax moths, mites, American foul brood, rolling the queen. Still, a job’s a job, so after coffee and a few pages of the latest Economist, we suited up and headed out.
We filled our smoker with pine needles. We had to keep relighting the smoker, and of course it was right when we needed to do something. This had not been on the test - what to do? We kept lighting it, that’s what we did. Since then the Beekeeper has shown us her “birds’ nest” technique that provides consistent smoke for a solid hour of inspection time.
The bees were in good form, buzzing happily and gradually building up a big beard on the outside. At first we were concerned, but later learned that bearding is a good thing during hot and humid weather.
Capped honey - check! Larvae - check! Bee bread - check! We culled some drone brood that was open, white and gooey. We checked frame after frame but didn’t see the Queen. It isn’t necessary to see the Queen, but it is nice to see her. As we worked to the bottom super, we discussed adding a honey super (our first) even though the Head Beekeeper had left notes to save that for the next week. We were still undecided when we saw the Queen in the very last frame of the bottom super. What she was doing there on the bee bread was beyond me, but there she was!