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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Camera: An Essential Tool in Hive Inspections

Persephone looks like a hive that is flagging. I have felt quite discouraged about it. I opened it on Friday which was a very warm day (over 65). The bees in the other three hives were going like gangbusters - flying in and out, carrying pollen. The bees entering and leaving Persephone looked like marauders - they were hesitating at the entry and seeming tentative.

So I opened the hive to see what was up. I had left a ziploc feeding bag on the top of the second box, but very little had been used. This confirmed for me what I was afraid of - that the hive had died. Then I started pulling frames.

First I pulled from the bottom box where there were no bees. This was a deep (this hive was started from a nuc last year which came with deep frames). The frame had stored honey but no bees anywhere.

This is what I saw on the back of the frame: all of the bees in the photo below are dead, just clinging to the wax as dead bodies. Obviously I had my camera and was taking pictures so I could post here about the demise of this hive.

In the second box, a medium, I found lots of honey stores and a cluster of bees over about three frames - the size of a tennis ball. They were on top of honey but I saw no evidence of a queen - no brood that I could see and nothing but a few bees and the honey.

I left the hive after taking a few pictures and called Cindy Bee. "Is there a queen in this small cluster?" she asked. I told her I hadn't seen any evidence of one. She and I decided that I should combine this tiny group with another hive. She suggested that I used vanilla on the top bars of the hive I was moving the bees into to decrease the chance of rejection. And that I should do this soon so that the bees didn't die out.

I left for the mountains with the plan to combine this tiny cluster with one of the three strong hives when I returned today.

Before doing the deed, I transferred my pictures from my camera to the computer and looked at my record from the inspection of Persephone. On the first photo, you'll see bees, stored honey, lots of hive beetles.

In the second photo down at 6:00, you see Her Majesty. And above her you can even see eggs and brood in the cells!

Without this camera record, I would have begun transferring the bees and lost a potential good hive. There's no way in this weakened and quite small state that this hive will amount to much this year, but I'm going to do my best to help Her Majesty make the best success possible out of this.

I of course called Cindy again to report the news. She suggested that I move this small group into a nuc hive and feed them. I'll move a frame of brood and nurse bees from a thriving hive into the nuc as well if I can be sure there is no queen on the frame!

The Hive is alive! Long Live the Queen!
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  1. Oh yay! I hope they survive!!

  2. hope everything turns out fine.

  3. Anonymous12:20 PM

    Are you treating for SHB? Thanksfully, I haven't seen any sign of them in my hive in WNC.

  4. Anonymous2:47 PM

    I have never seen a queen "alone" like that - where are her attendants? Good luck with the nuc idea.

  5. More than likely the queen was in the center of the circle of bees above her but skeedaddled to the bottom to get away from me when I brought light into the hive.

  6. Linda, I was told by an experienced bee keeper that if I did not control the hive beetles that I would have eventual hive failure. I asked what he does about the beetles and he showed me a trap that he uses and built. I built this trap and installed it. The first 24 hours I found over 200 beetles in the trap. The trap count has diminished at each check. This is a very effective trap that you can easily build. I posted about this trap on my blog. I have added you to my blogs I like to visit. Hope your bees do well this year. Thanks for your posts.

  7. Hi Paul, I too have built a very effective SHB trap (see videos on right frame of this blog), but I am not currently treating because usually they die out in the winter. When I move these bees to a nuc, I plan to put in my trap and I'm sure they'll diminish. I haven't found a great trap yet although someone is sending me his invention to try and talk about on this blog.

  8. That is the best news ever! Can't wait to see this hive flourish under your good care!

  9. Hi Lynn, I am following your blog from Britain. Do give us an update on this hive. Hope it improves over the next few months.

  10. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Since there are so few frames of bees and it looks like the beetles are concentrated, I would make an effort to control the beetles by crushing them. I am afraid the beetles will take over this weak hive, consuming the bee larvae and it will never thrive.

  11. Anonymous9:41 AM

    I have read your past posts on the SHB. I see a heavy infestation of SHB in the recent photos. I suggest you might try my treatment since you hive only a few hives to effect a immediate drop in count. After removing bees (brush or shake method) place frame over a coated (oil/grease) inner lid or container, take a propane torch and LIGHTLY and QUICKLY brush over the comb with the flame. The SHB will usually drop in high numbers quickly into the container where they may be killed by flame or other device. The intense heat of the flame works quickly and burns most of the wings of those attempting to fly as they buzz their wings usually before flight. Do not heat brood frames and no more than 1/2 of frames at a time. The key is not to melt the combs much. Once the number is reduced use other methods to controll them. I would also stop "cracking" the top and install only screened vent boards (use your SHB trap frame with drilled screened holes) as the SHB will come in by both top and bottom making harder for the bees to defend. Buck

  12. Hello Linda,

    I am a newbee; I am curious about the second photo from the top. In the lower right, the wax is very very dark - is this normal, or OK?? My hive did not make it over the winter :-( and 80% of the frames have this burndt black dusty look to them. I've been searching on line for what it means, but no luck. Any ideas?

  13. Wax this dark is what happens when comb is old. The bees carry in dirt on their tiny, tiny feet and track it all over the hive. So old wax is dirty. My wax never looks like this - these two frames came from purchased nucs - which always have old, used comb in them. Your burnt dusty look in a one year old hive probably is the result of the detrius from wax moths when they take over after a hive has died.


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