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Author Topic: Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...  (Read 1851 times)

Offline Lunawriter

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Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...
« on: June 18, 2010, 06:45:58 PM »
Well, my gear came in the mail late this afternoon and I lost my head.  I knew my baby would be waking up any minute, but I had to get out there and see my bees!  I put on the veil, lit the smoker, put on a long sleeve shirt, a lab coat, nitrile gloves, a pair of yoga pants and my husband's jeans over them with wellies pulled over top, and raced out there telling my three year old to stay back and hold the chickens for a few minutes (his favorite pastime) while I checked on the hive.  The first bar had a narrow strip of wax and it was all uncapped.  The second and third were stuck together and when I got them apart I injured a bee. :(  It looked like brood comb with mostly drone cells (If I'm identifying correctly). The third and fourth were stuck together with a wavy comb.  The pulled off top revealed some honey in the top of it. I couldn't get it out of there it was so crooked.  I probably should have pulled some more bars out to look at them, but my cell phone rang as I was trying to put another bar back and I jumped and squished at least 4-5 bees.  :'(  All I could think was "Oh, no...what if one of those was the queen?!" 

At that point I could hear my baby crying on the monitor and my three year old yelling for me so I put the bars on and the lid back and walked away.  I learned nothing except that they are at least building comb the right direction.  They'd eaten all the sugar water and I hadn't made any more for them.  Now I'm thinking I should, but would it be too disruptive to go back out there and put it in this evening?

I'll be gone all day tomorrow at Purdue University for a bee seminar. so I can't do it then.  I'm really hoping I gain a lot of insight tomorrow because I'm feeling out of my depth right now!   

By the way, the bees all looked different from each other.  Most were normal striped, but some looked more solidly yellow and others more solidly black.  I didn't see any that I thought might be the queen, but I could have looked right at her (and hopefully didn't squish her while doing so!)  :'(

I wish someone around here had a top bar hive who could show me the ropes with their hive or come take a look at mine.  The few people I do know keep Langstroths.  I guess I could learn what the different combs look like by helping them but I'd love to pick another top bar owners brain!

I didn't like killing bees.  I hope I get better at maneuvering without that horrible crushing sound ever occuring.  :(

Offline AllenF

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Re: Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2010, 10:00:29 PM »
I would not worry about killing a bee during a check of your hives, just as long as you don't kill the "big one", they will make more.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2010, 10:29:09 PM »
Sounds like a good start.  Unfortunately inspecting a hive is not something you can do in a hurry...
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Offline Lunawriter

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Re: Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2010, 09:33:18 PM »
AllenF, I certainly hope none of them was "the big one"!  I just really hope I HAVE a big one.

Michael, I realized it wasn't ideal, but I also knew it was my only chance to get a look inside my hive before I went to a bee conference the next day.  Hopefully future inspections will be more leisurely. :)

Offline luvin honey

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Re: Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 11:31:55 AM »
Life with small children doesn't always allow for leisurely inspections, does it? :) I'm thrilled to finally have my daughter back out at the hives at all after her lip sting earlier this spring.

The few times I have seen the queen, Her Highness was never at the top of the bars. I'm thinking she would most likely be below the honey storage area and down in the cells, looking for great places to lay. I would guess that it is a very slim chance you squashed Her.

Isn't it great to see beautiful new wax?

I have 2 ideas for getting topbars back in tight without squishing bees. First, slide the bars in from above, so that the edges are already tight together as you set the bar down into the hive. That way, the bees scoot down without getting squashed. For those few where that is not possible, I have a topbar with a paint stick glued in lengthwise. I get the bars as close as I can without killing bees. Then, I slide that paintstick bar in from the side to gently push bees out of the way (with 1 hand) while slowly pushing the bars together with the other. Does that make any sense?

You will do great! The thing about not having a mentor is that while you may feel as clueless as I do :D, you also have to learn pretty quick and will learn to rely on your observations rather than being able to depend on another beek. Not sure if this is good or bad, but let's spin it in a good way :)
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson

Offline mtbe

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Re: Yeah--no idea what I'm doing...
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2010, 11:19:35 AM »
I also find that starting an inspection from the back of a TBH is easier.  As you place the back bar back into the hive, move it toward the back to let you see the next bar you want to pick up.  Sometimes the bees will adhere the comb to the side of the TBH and if you just pick it up without seeing this, then you may have a bar in your hand and comb in the hive.  You will need to cut/slice through the comb that is attached to the sides of the TBH first, before picking up the bar.

So, start from the back....and when you place the bars back into the hive, scoot them back so you can see the next bar you will be taking out.

Keep scooting each bar toward the back of the hive when you place it back in the hive.

When you are finished, you have to scoot all the bars back toward the front.  This does take more time, but I find I damage less comb this way, and less bees too.