Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Week 1: the First Inspection

Late this morning I did my first inspection of my two hives. As usual, my faithful photographer, Monta May took pictures. I am still feeling the adrenalin rush.

Silly enough, my chief anxiety this morning was whether I could get the smoker lit and not have it go out on me. I am pleased to report that my anxiety was unwarranted. I used a crumbled page of the New York Times, some pieces of a paper egg carton from Bluff Country Co-op, and, finally, woodchips as the fuel and had absolutely no problems my first time out.

I first inspected "Bee Glad...", the Langstroth hive. With a little smoke, the bees were extremely gentle and calm, more concerned with their labors building comb than in my interference. What surprised me was that, only after a week in the hive, the bees were building comb on each of the ten frames. I could not find the queen and had difficulty seeing if any eggs were laid. One interesting discovery was the bees habit of dispensing with the starter strip, once they had a "sense" of where a comb should be drawn.

After closing up "Bee Glad...", I moved on to "Metpropolis", the top bar hive. This proved to be slightly more difficult only because the bees drew cross-comb between 3 bars. I surprised myself as I carefully cut each comb apart with no disasters nor casualties. The exciting, surprising event in this inspection was that I actually found the queen (see photo below). I went into these inspections with the goal of simply looking for eggs and hadn't really expected to find the queens. So you can understand my excitement and surprise when I took out the largest comb, glanced at it, and there she was. I guess I have to thank Michael Bush for his "Can you find the queen?" photos on his website.

In all, I am very happy with the bees, and somewhat proud of myself. The inspections were done at a slow, deliberate pace with no harm to the hives. Unexpected occurences were handled smoothly and I saw the queen of "Metpropolis".

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