Checking on a beehive

One of my friends who had moved to the blue mountains had started keeping bees. The swarm had been captured by a ‘mad uncle’, and delivered in the boot of a car by a nervous relative. Six months later, it appears that the hive had been established and settled in, so it was time to crack open the boxes and check on their progress.

On the first weekend chosen, it was hammering down with rain. Not good bee inspecting conditions.

The next weekend was gorgeous. Lovely, sunny and warm. Perfect!

Those beekeepers who have been keeping for a while have a full white overall suit with a netted box around the head. You can also just wear the jacket with the netted box – but then you have the vulnerable gap around your middle.

First you need to light the pine needles in the smoker box. This is quite hard to do, so a gas powered torch like thing with a sustained flame is the way to go:

Starting up the smoker

You smoke around the entry point to quieten the guard bees down. You need to release the strapping metal tape from its clamp and then use your ‘hive tool’ to separate the give boxes from each other. Apparently the bees use propolis to glue the seams of the boxes together and keep the warmth in.

We were looking to see if the bees had started to ‘move down’ from one box to another and if there was plenty of honey: some for us to thieve, some for the bees over winter.

This is the top box:

honeycomb top box

You can see the bees have started to build honeycomb on top of the hivebox and the frames that have been set up for them. This needs to be ‘cleaned up’ as part of the maintenance.

Here are the resident beekeepers checking in the status of a frame:

honeycomb frame

I couldn’t get too close because although I had a veil, I had dark clothing on. Did you know that deep in their DNA, bees don’t like dark coloured figures because it reminds them of a black bear stealing their honey?

It all looked good, so we put a new hive box at the bottom, and stacked the existing boxes on top. The bees had started to build honey comb atop of the cover sheet and underneath the lid of the top box, so this was was cleaned off and put away for safe keeping.

Everything was out back together again, and we left out the honeycomb wax that we had scraped off next to the hive. Perhaps when they calmed down the bees could use it as an input for the next set of honeycomb.

I, beehive

We had to retreat inside to taste the fruits of their labours. Otherwise, they would come investigating that sweet smell.

Here is the honeycomb, pooh bear:

Honeycomb

It was an incredibly sweet explosion of sherbet in your mouth. Almost too sweet.

I’m now a thinking that I to would like some honeybees in my garden. I wonder if someone nearby has a hive, because I certainly have a lot of bees buzzing around my basil. Perhaps I can use an empty hive and some kind of ‘lure’ to attract them. Hmm.

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One response to this post.

  1. […] told you about inspecting a friend’s beehive earlier in the year. After that I then decided that I really wanted some bees of my […]

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