Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 6 hive inspection.

Last weekend there was a hive inspection of Urania and garden clean up.  Part of this was inspired by the September Bee Guild meeting - It's time to get ready for Fall! 

The goal of the hive inspection was to see how things had progressed since the August 15 harvest.  We wanted to make sure the queen was under the queen excluder.  How were the girls dealing with the excluder?  And finally - when we put the excluder on, we trapped some drones in the honey supers.  I'd noticed the hive was starting to clear out the drone population, and they seemed a bit short tempered on hive visits during the week (in which I usually open up the telescoping cover and look around in street clothes). 

Initial impressions:  the girls LOVE propylis.  Once the telescoping and inner cover were removed, we took a peek into the August 15 super.  They are quickly filling this up with nectar, and a good amount of the comb was capped.  Noticed a good amount of burr comb on the frames, which is something I've noticed they do when a super is close to harvest time.  This super was removed and set to the side.

The July 30 super had a lot more burr comb!  They had actually built the comb from one super to the next, attaching the frames.  This makes removing supers a bit tricky - not only are you dealing with propylis, weight, and bees - it's a bit like unstitching the insides.

This super was also moved and set to the side.  (my best advice for a new beekeeper?  have a sturdy table nearby!)  The torn comb and spilling honey soon got the attention of the bees.

We gave the girls a bit of time to get the drones out.  They were in a very pleasant mood.  We hung out just watching them, something I still find totally fascinating.

We talked about removing the queen excluder for the fall / winter, but with two supers being so close to harvest ready, we decided to leave it on, add an empty super, and do one more harvest in about four weeks. Glad to see the excluder was pretty clean, I was worried there would be dead bees stuck in it. 

 We removed the burr comb, and reassembled the hive.   The first super on was an empty honey super containing seven frames of drawn comb and two frames of foundation only. 

The next super that went on was the August 15 super.  The entire tower was topped off with the July 30 super.  We left the telescoping cover off for a bit to give the girls a last chance to remove any drones that remained in the honey supers.  The inner cover was on to give the hive some protection.  Once I saw a wasp hovering nearby, the telescoping cover was snapped back on.

The scrapped off comb and spilled honey on the spare bottom board attracted some bees to it.  It looked like a bar of honey that the bees were too happy to belly up to!  They do a great job of clean up.

We took one of the pieces of comb to bite into.  I admit the love of honeycomb is mostly lost on me- unless it's sunwarmed and fresh from the hive.  Then it's a rare and precious treat.  Honey straight from the hive, deliciously warmed has no comparison!

The future plan:  harvest two supers in early October.  Remove the queen excluder and leave the September 6 super on the hive to give the bees extra nectar and honey, realizing that the queen may take this over.  Do three powdered sugar treatments over three weeks to kill any varroa mites.  Consider feeding pollen patties to keep the queen laying through November.  And then it's up to the weather and the bees to get through the winter. 

Bee inspection done, it was time to move on to the garden work!


  1. I'm curious if your neighbours mind or say anything about the hive.. do they know?

    Your bees look great and it's nice to see so many supers stacked up :)

  2. Hello Barbara! :)

    The simple answer - yes and no. I'm just about to update the blog, I'll answer there. :)

  3. Nice pics and very informative I thoroughly enjoy reading about hobiest beekeeper s and their trials and tribulations.I did a course on beekeeping and then a year later moved to a small holding with some empty bee boxes and within a couple of months had 11 tenants. So to say the least I felt as though i was thrown in the deep end.