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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. 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.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

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. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blue Heron Inspection June 28

On Sunday we held a Blue Heron inspection of our three hives there. There were several goals for the inspection.

1. Julia wanted to taste the honey from her hive, so we planned to take a couple of frames off of it. This gave us an opportunity to show how to remove a frame from the hives without using chemicals or anything very violent - like a blower - to get the bees off of the frame.

2. We wanted to use hive #2 to look into the hive to see the development of the hive. This meant we planned to look for eggs, larvae, the queen, the state of the hive.

3. Hive #3 looks from the outside like it is not thriving and we wanted to understand why. In addition, Jerry Freeman sent me a new small hive beetle trap. Since this is a weak looking hive, it is subject to being damaged by the small hive beetle. I planned to take this hive apart and replace the current screened bottom board with the Freeman beetle trap.

It was about 100 degrees in the field at Blue Heron and we all sweated our way through the inspection.

I did not light the smoker for the first hive because we were taking off honey frames. The smoker sends a smoke smell into the hive which the bees can clean up over time, but if you are taking off honey frames, they will have a smoke smell if you use the smoker, so I never use a smoker when I am robbing the hive.

After removing the frames of honey from Julia's hive, I then lit the smoker, puffed at the door of the second hive, set the smoker down, and completely forgot about it. I never used it again. When I opened the third hive, one of the guests reminded me that I hadn't used it.

In spite of using no smoke, we had a very peaceful inspection of three hives. I explained to everyone that I rarely use smoke and the bees do just fine. As long as you move slowly and take some care with what you do, why should you need to smoke them?

With these goals in mind, please enjoy the slide show with pictures thanks to Julia. Click on the slideshow to see the pictures full sized and with captions.

So did we meet the goals of the inspection?

1. We removed two frames of honey for Julia

2. We saw eggs and tiny larvae in the second hive and saw great brood patterns, confirming the thriving nature of that hive

3. We determined that hive #3 is probably on its third queen and she has barely started laying. We did see very young (tiny C-shaped larvae) proving the existence of a functioning queen. She probably broke out of the queen cell, went on her mating flight, and has just gotten started. However, we'll keep an eye on this hive for the possible need for queen resources or extra frames of bees before the end of July.

4. We installed the SBB for the Freeman trap but didn't put the tray in or arm it with oil. We only saw one hive beetle and it's too hot to deprive the bees of the ventilation from the SBB.

Note to self: Buy ventilated inner covers for all of my hives. Julia's hive looked so cool and comfy.

This inspection is the last one Julia and I will be doing at Blue Heron for the Metro club this year. We've had a great time and I hope you've enjoyed our slide shows.


  1. Anonymous6:32 PM

    Gosh Linda

    You have so much confidence in showing the bees to others. I admire you for that.

    Annette from Placerville California

  2. Hi Linda,
    I tried to link to your email, but my yahoo account isn't set up to link automatically. Anyway, I am a new bee keeper up here in MA. I have two hives and belong to our local Bristol Bee Association. I have a few questions:
    First: I love the concept of the starter strip frames. However, what I've heard up here is that for my "newbees" to build out comb on the wax foundation I have, I need to feed them sugar syrup -- otherwise comb making comes to a screeching halt. Is this because of our cold weather and short season? Or is it a myth? I love how you are able to harvest the wax and honey etc and would love to go that route, but I don't know if our weather suits it. Do you know?
    Second: I have two brood chambers on my hives. After those are drawn out and 'working', I get to add on my honey super. It was my understanding that the queen will lay (usually) in the lower two. So why do the hives in your slide show only have one brood box? And why doesn't the queen lay in the two upper honey supers? Are you using a queen excluder? And, don't the bees get crowded with only one brood box?
    You can see my two hives on my blogspot.

  3. Hi Sandy, You can do an RSS feed to link to my posts by clicking on the orange square thingy in the address bar at the top of the page.

    a. Unless you are in the middle of a strong nectar flow, the bees need sugar syrup to provide them with something to make wax on your foundation. When there is a strong flow there's no reason to feed the bees (nobody does it when they make their hive in a hollow tree!).

    b. You can use starter strips regardless of climate. One of my favorite beekeepers uses them in Nebraska where the winters are hard. The reason I do it is to give the bees the opportunity to build natural comb and to keep poison out of my hives (even the wax foundation you buy probably came from hives where chemical treatments are used).

    c. In this part of the country we usually only use one brood box and one super for the winter. In colder climates, when people use deeps, often two deeps are needed for winter. At home I am moving to all 8 frame medium boxes, so I put my old deeps on the Blue Heron hives since they started with nucs that were on deep sized frames. The advantage of all medium boxes is the interchanging ability between hive boxes. Here in the South, a hive on medium boxes needs three boxes total to go through the winter.

    d. The queen lays wherever she likes and I'm fine with that. Most people laughingly refer to the queen excluder as a honey excluder because the bees are reluctant to work separated from the queen. The best use I've found for an excluder is to drain cut comb honey!

    Since I am harvesting via crush and strain, if I pull a frame and the queen has laid in it, then I put it back on the hive and don't use it for harvest.

    e. The bees don't get crowded with one brood box because they grow as they need to - into the box above and the box above that. They don't know that you the beekeeper have decided that the bottom box is the brood box. The queen is going to use as much room as she needs to raise the numbers in her hive.

  4. Anonymous3:53 PM

    Hi Linda.
    Your comments about the use of a smoker are very interesting. I continue to enjoy your blog ~ it's always informative, and often leaves me smiling (for instance, when you teach the bee dance to children!).
    Thanks for sharing.
    Susan L.

  5. Bravo! Well done you! Totally agree with the approach, and not using smoke to bamboozle and provoke the Bees!


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