How not to inspect your bees

So the bees swarmed. A week later, I had a friend come and help with more nadiring, and hopefully a honey harvest.

After the first inspection

Why so early?

Well, I struggled with my last nadiring effort. A full warre hive box can weigh 20 kgs (40 pounds), so that’s 60kg I’m wrestling with when I’m trying not to disturb the bees too much when expanding their house. A helping hand makes the job much easier, and points out things that you may not notice in your effort not to squash the bees.

It was almost textbook on how not to harvest.

1. I thought the top box of three would contain only honey.
It didn’t. It was about 50% brood comb.

2. I thought that the wall comb would contain honey, so I could harvest that.
It didn’t. More brood comb! Combs 2 & 3 next door had the capped honey.
Then we had comb containing brood break free from the frame.
We ended up returning the top box to the hive column, to make a five box hive, and I chucked the broken comb (in one giant piece), in. This will cause me a headache when I next inspect the hive, because the bees will ‘fix’ this broken comb to the walls (and the other honey comb that it is leaning against), so that they can use the space.
Next time, I need a clearer board. This is like a one way trap door for the bees; they can exit to the lower boxes, but they cannot return.

3. I thought Queen Mum was in one of the lower boxes.
She wasn’t. I found her, about 6 hours later, in a clump of bees on the ground behind the hive, in the area where we had been working.
I picked her up with a spoon and placed her near the hive entrance whereupon she marched right in like she owned the place.

This isn’t a reflection of the warre hive ‘inadequacies’, just more about my own inexperience nearly causing a disaster.

What did we do correctly?

4. My friend bought a spare baseboard.
This gave us a platform to work on without getting grass and dirt on the comb.

5. We set up our working area behind the beehive.
You always walk and work behind the hive entrance. This way the bees don’t find you in their way when they return from foraging flights, and that they don’t think you’re stealing from them.

6. We nadired the hive first before going through the top box.
This gave the bees a bit of a distraction and something to do, so that they didn’t pay much attention to us.

7. We had a plastic crate
This gave us a ‘bee free space’ into which which could chuck the bits of harvested honeycomb.

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