On May 27, we did another normal inspection. It was cloudy and 69 degrees- perfect for a hive inspection. The assistant beekeeper decided that today was the day where he would wear shorts, instead of the long, protective pants that he normally wears. This almost ended in a bee crawling up his pants, but he managed to make it crawl away.
We started by opening up Hive A. The bees were so busy that in just two weeks, they built burr comb and attached one of the frames in the honey super to the inner cover. Burr comb is honey comb built in places where the beekeeper does not intend- usually getting in the way of a normal inspection. About 8 out of the 10 frames were built up, and were starting to be filled. The majority of the frames were filled with nectar, but some capped honey was spotted. We moved the super off of the hive, and moved down into the brood box. We lifted out the first frame, and found it filled with capped worker brood, as well as some drone brood. This is the first indicator that the hive may be over crowded- usually end frames are reserved mostly for honey. We also found large amounts of burr comb, filled with drone brood. This is what I call, "burr brood". That was indicator number two that the hive may be overcrowded. To prevent an accidental queen killing, we decided not to continue inspecting, and to simply add another brood box onto the hive.
When adding this brood box, we decided to experiment a little. Usually, each of the frames have foundation. Foundation is a thin sheet of beeswax, with a few wires running through, that helps support the comb and give the bees a guideline of where to build the comb. However, in this new brood box, we left about 3 frames with no foundation. Many beekeepers do not use foundation, but this was an experiment for us to see what the natural comb looks like.
Next, we moved into Hive B. Just two weeks ago, a brood box was added. We saw that the bees had started building beautiful comb in this brood box. We also saw all of the signs of a healthy hive; honey, pollen, capped brood, larva, and eggs. The end frame of the first brood box had a beautiful frame of fully capped honey, so I decided to harvest this honey, for just a small batch of honey to give as end of school-year gifts. In one week we will go back into Hive A to make sure that the bees are moving up into their new brood box, and into Hive B to add their first honey super.
The honey extraction was simple, and we ended up with 7- 2oz jars, and 2- 4oz jars of honey. The honey was surprisingly light compared to last years dark honey.
Above: Frame of honey stuck on the inner cover.
Above: Capped brood and larva.
Above: Frame of partially capped honey.
Below are two other pictures from the hive inspection on Mother's Day.
Above: Full frame of capped honey from hive B.
Above: An attempt at marking the queen in hive B.