Mar 30 2013

The first big day of the year

So today was it, the first regular full inspection of the year. I was so excited. It was sunny and downright warm. I had decided to go out and inspect at 1pm since I knew it’d take a little longer than usual, being the first inspection. And I didn’t want to get caught with the bee deck getting in the shadows in late afternoon.

I had talked to one of the neighbors this morning and they’re thinking of getting into beekeeping and wanted to come over and participate or watch. So they came over at 1pm. I only had the one extra set of bee jacket and gloves (which are XXL for HB) so Molly put those on. Since she’s about 5’5″ and as big as a mouse she was drowning in the jacket – it looked like a dress. And the gloves were so big and floppy they weren’t really worth much. John sat nearby on the bee deck and watched.

HB had put out the tote with the extra honey frames from the winter honey bank on the deck in case I needed them. I took out some more burlap, the honey scratcher, camera and recorder. Molly and I went up inside the bee deck.

I started by getting the smoker going and giving a little puff to the front doors. The girls were out and about, very active flying in and out. I tore off all the black roofing paper from around the hives. It was so nice to see the brightly colored orange and purple hives again. I then removed all the insulation from around and on top of the hives and set it aside. So the girls are now de-winterized.

Then we got down to it.

Purple Hive – Queen Kriger

The hive has 5 boxes. I smoked the front door, put a little puff under the lid and counted to 10. Then I popped the lid. There were a lot of girls in this top box, but it’s still just dead empty with 8 bare frames. They were just starting on one edge of a frame to draw it out. I set this box entirely aside.

Then I look at the 4th box (from the bottom). It is still just packed with 8 frames of honey, although there are now girls all over the frames so they must be picking up honey to move around. So I set this box aside.

3rd box from the bottom has a frame packed full of pollen, 2 frames of honey. Then the next frame has a small amount, about the size of half a fist, of capped brood. And then – taaaa daaa – brand new fresh eggs! GO QUEEN KRIGER – you go girl!  Then the next frame was just perfect – some capped brood in the middle, fresh eggs around that, then fresh beautifully dayglow orange   pollen and then honey on the edges and corners. WOW! What a great bunch of girls.  Here’s a picture of an amazingly perfect frame – capped brood, pollen and honey. Isn’t it pretty? Then there was two more frames with fresh eggs. Then another frame with honey and pollen.  I saw a few drone cells on the bottom still capped.  I set this box aside because I’m going to move the babies to the bottom of the box.

2nd box from the bottom was a mixed box of honey and pollen and some empty frames. I did find 2 frames with some capped and uncapped larvae. So I swapped and moved these 2 frames to the box with all the babies and moved two frames of food from that box to this box.

I suddenly felt a little crunch on the middle finger of my left hand and looked down – sure enough I had half crushed a girl and she then tried to sting me. Her little stinger was stuck in the leather of my glove. I’m sorry sweetheart. But they are all over my gloves. There’s a lot of bees in this hive.

The bottom box was essentially full of empty frames, some pollen.


I removed the bottom box as there was still a pile of dead bees on the bottom screen. I took off the bottom screened base of the hive with the front porch and threw all the dead bees out in the garden. Then I put back the screened base.

I then put the box with the babies and eggs on the bottom, then a box that was empty for expansion. Then the two boxes with honey and pollen, and finally the last box that was mostly empty.

Popped the top back on the hive and left the girls alone.

Orange Hive – Queen Ristet

I puffed the front porch, under the top, counted to 10 and removed the top.

This hive has 4 boxes. There are bees up in the top box.

The top box (4th from the bottom) is still full of 8 frames of honey, so I set this box aside.

The 3rd box from the bottom had a frame of food and then – fresh eggs all over. YEAAAH Queen Ristet – girl power! Then more frames with fresh new orange pollen, capped and uncapped larvae and more fresh eggs. There were some capped drone cells.

AND THEN IT HAPPENED!! I saw Queen Ristet. You beautiful, slender, dark girl! She was scuttling around trying to find a place out of the sun to hide. She had a beautiful long dark brown abdomen, which means she’s still Ristet and a Carniolian. WOW! I took a video of Queen Ristet and you can see the link below to watch her.

So this box had 3 frames with eggs and babies, and the queen, and then 5 frames of food. I very carefully replaced the frames since I know the Queen is running around and I don’t want to squash her. I moved this box to the side since I’ll put it down in the bottom.

The 2nd box from the bottom had frames of honey and frames with eggs and capped and uncapped larvae. I swapped and moved all the frames with babies to the one box I’d set and moved food frames to this box and set it aside.

The bottom box was basically full of empty frames.


I also picked up this bottom screened base and shook off all the dead bees on the screened bottom out into the garden. I put the clean screened base back, put the brood box on the bottom, then the empty box, then the box with mixed food and then the box on top that’s full of honey. I put the lid back on.

I then cleaned up the bee deck by sweeping all the dead bees and the pollen up, threw away all the roofing paper I’d ripped off, moved the pieces of insulation into storage in the bee shed for next fall, put the hive tools in the smoker to sterilize with the last of the fire, put everything back in it’s bucket and HB moved the honey bank honey back into the freezer.


There are fresh eggs, capped brood and all stages of larvae in both hives.

There were capped drone cells in both hives – I didn’t look for live drones.

I saw Queen Ristet in the orange hive. The queen really does look regal – she’s just huge, but not fat and overstuffed like the drones. Instead, she’s long and slender and pointed, like she’s dragging a train behind her that follows here whichever way she bends and moves.

Each hive has at least 10 frames full of capped honey and both have at least 4 entirely full frames of fresh pollen.

I saw a wasp near the hive, so I went out later and set 3 queen wasp/yellow jacket traps in the yard.

The hives had a good amount of bees, not stuffed to overflowing but a very healthy amount.

All over in both hives were just hundreds of girls with very full leg baskets of an absolutely day glow, medium orange pollen. Even looking down into the dark recesses of the hive, you could see these huge dots of orange moving about up and down the frames and the sides of the hive, as if it was really glowing in the dark.


First is a picture of a beautiful frame of with capped brood. There are a few open spots but that’s fine because that usually means they’re selectively pulling out larvae they think may be diseased or defective. If the frame is entirely covered in capped brood with no open spots at all, it can mean they don’t have good hygiene.

Second picture is a frame with a few capped brood in the middle, then on both sides just a ton of gorgeous new orange pollen and then honey on the outside edges.

The next pic is the top of the lid with big pieces of pollen that have fallen off the girls back legs. This is the exact form you find the pollen in when you buy it in jars in the health food store – these big hunks of raw pollen.

Then hit this link to go see a movie of my svelte Carniolian Queen Ristet. Queen Ristet movie link.



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