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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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Friday, May 01, 2009

Inspecting and Festooning

Since we are in the middle of the 2009 honey flow, I keep a close watch on my hives over the next two months to make sure they have boxes when they need them. Today I did a 30 minute inspection of the four hives on my deck and found good work going on there.

In the tiny swarm nuc, they still weren't building up in the second five frame medium box, but they had begun to store honey in the bottom box. Here's an example. At the lower right of the picture, I've drawn a square around a small hive beetle, calmly living in the hive.

In Aristaeus2, I found the bees working in the top box, festooning as they build wax. A post on Beemaster right now deals with the feeling some beekeepers have of intruding on something private when you find the bees festooning.

I feel like the beekeepers who posted there - when I find festooning, the bees immediately take action to stop what they were doing. It feels like I have invaded their privacy and I want to leave them in peace. But before I left, I shot this picture. It's not the best festooning picture but you can see how the bees hang in a thread as they create wax.

The picture below shows you how the bees first draw comb in a foundationless frame. They usually make these three startup combs and over time they fill out the frame entirely. You can't delineate these three starter parts when the frame is fully drawn. It's amazing to me that they can do this.

In this frame you can see how they took the frame and built it entirely out before storing nectar in it. If you look at the bottom of the picture you can see that the next frame in the box is built out the same way. They have just started work on this box in this hive. Only a few days ago there was NO wax in this box - just empty frames.

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  1. Hi Lynn

    What is the white irregular shape next to the small hive beetle? There are two others further to the left at the bottom of the frame.

  2. I don't use foundation so those three openings you see are places where the bees didn't choose to build a cell - they are "tunnels" that go completely through to the other side. Most of the bees' comb building is two sided comb with a wax back to each cell. In the other cells you can't see all the way through because there is a cell on this side of the frame and an identical cell backing up to it on the other side. In these three instances they left the opening - probably for a passageway or because bees often without foundation don't completely attach to the bottom of the frame. There's a much larger version of the same phenomenon at the upper left on the frame.

  3. All I can say is AMAZING.

  4. Jim Stevens10:13 AM

    Hi Linda! How often do you inspect your hives during the summer? I am a new beekeeper and don't want to overdo it. Thanks!


  5. I do an inspection (as in look carefully in all the boxes) only occasionally - in early March, in early April and then not again unless it looks like there is a problem. Meanwhile about once a week, I pop the top on all the boxes and look at the top couple of boxes to decide if more honey supers are needed or to see the progress of wax capping because I like to have tender wax for chunk and cut comb so I take those boxes as soon as they are capped.


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