Saturday, May 15, 2010

Starting out, and my first two inspections

So, here I am, week 3 of life as a beekeeper. So far so good. I think I'll start off by talking about getting set up, then I'll move into the inspections.

My buddy, Brad, is a veteran beekeeper, with a solid one year of experience. Somehow, I let this guy (who, unfortunately, lost his first hive over the winter, and has managed to be stung a couple dozen times already this year) be my mentor... talk about the blind leading the blind. Since then, I've managed to wrangle up not one, not two, but three full hive set-ups, all from different places. I'm only using one of the hives so far, but will probably expand next spring.

Back in February, I ordered my bees from Klein and Sons in St Charles, MI (about 40 minutes from my house). Then, toward the end of April, I got the call... My girls were ready to meet me.

I was pretty apprehensive about putting them into their hive. I talked with Brad, read a couple books, and consulted several websites. The prevailing wisdom was to soak them with sugar water, and I even heard about some people that dunk the whole cage briefly into a vat of the stuff. I opted out of that idea, but did spray them copiously.... maybe too much. When I dumped them out, only two two or three took flight, and the rest sat in a lump on top of the frames, and on the floor of the hive. I got them in without killing too many. I dropped the queen cage twice, and then realized I forgot to take out the cork.... oh well, live and learn....

One week later, I opened up the hive. I removed a big chunk of burr comb and checked the queen cage. She was out, and on further inspection, was laying eggs. I had a couple frames with about 1/2-3/4 of the foundation drawn out with comb. Not gonna lie, I was pretty apprehensive about getting stung. I made it through, though.

The next week (last week) it was cold and rainy pretty much every day. So, I opted for not inspecting at all. However, my hivetop feeder was empty, and had several dead bees and a few ants in there, so I had to slide that out to clean it. I saw a bunch of activity as I slid the inner cover in place of the feeder and vice versa.

Today, it was warm, dry, and calm, so, I got in and did a good inspection. As I pulled the wall frame out, I was a little discouraged because there was very little drawn out comb. #2 frame was the same, and I was starting to worry. Then, when I pulled #3, I saw, on the outside of #4, there was a bunch of capped cells. #4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 were all just about completely filled with capped brood, with a crescent of capped honey above them! Beautiful!! The random uncapped cells also had eggs or larvae in them!! My girl is doing a pretty good job!!! #9 was a little bare, unfortunately. But, I'm not worried, cause the others are packed pretty well. I think next week, I'll be putting the second hive body on.

Also, I want to thank Angie and her son, Nathaniel, who came to watch. Nathaniel started nervous, but soon, was right up at the hive, checking them out!

Thanks for checking out my blog, and feel free to comment. I'll answer questions if I can, or point you in the right direction if I can't. And if you have ideas for posts, let me know. Maybe I'll post on your ideas...

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