Three generations of novice beekeepers

From Simon's beekeeping blog. Comments are welcome via email.


Well, the forecast worked well today, with sunny, warm conditions for a marathon two-hour inspection with three generations of the Rawles family — my dad, my sister, and B. It turned out the lighter I bought from the garage wasn't particularly suitable for beekeeping, but luckily Dad had a blowtorch. It gave the smoker a volume of smoke we'd not encountered before, but B managed to keep the smoke puffing away gently, as well as holding frames and applying treatments. His confidence is really improving. This was the first inspection at which I'd ask him what he could see on the comb, and he impressively knows exactly what he's looking at. He later said that seeing new bees emerging from capped brood was amazing. Later we confirmed what he'd seen by looking at Wikipedia's nice series of photos illustrating the honey bee life cycle.

The first colony — the one B and I have been concentrating on — looked reassuringly normal, with nothing major to report. I'm always pretty bad at counting framefuls of brood and stores, but there were perhaps five frames of stores and two frames of brood in all stages. We even saw the eggs, and the brood pattern seemed somehow more normal this time, though the eggs were at the edge of a central frame. The colony now occupies seven frames, with nearly all of it being drawn out and used. The bees are building a bit of brace comb on the eighth frame, but no actual construction work is taking place.

The weather had dictated that a Tuesday afternoon would be the only opportunity for an inspection this week. Dave and D weren't available, and so B and I had two hives to inspect. Their hive was, as usual, a delight, with its docile, productive inhabitants. About seven or eight frames were in use, with the space with lots of nice healthy brood. Their bees had taken full advantage of the improvement in the weather, with a large queue of bees carrying lots of bright yellow pollen forming around the entrance, ready to store the results of their foraging.

This week a couple of ekes came, and we used them to treat with Apiguard directly on the brood frames, as I believe you should. The cartons from our last treatment were above the crown board and were only half-touched. I didn't have time to stain the ekes, but we shouldn't need them for longer than a week or two. I'd also ordered some longer, thicker nitrile gloves. The ones I used before were just the cheapest nitrile gloves at Proper Job, but no bee would ever sting through them. Within a couple of minutes of putting on the new gloves, a bee had stung me on the hand, at the time of writing rather red and puffed-up. I had to borrow dad's thick latex gloves, with which I could barely manipulate the frames. I don't know why bees don't sting through nitrile, but based on this experience, maybe it's only some gloves that provide the mysterious protection.

We've now finished with sugar syrup. Dave and D got a load of Fondabee. Their bees have already started on a 1kg bag, but ours got their first pack today. I think the plan is to continue giving them fondant throughout the winter. Though we're happy with the stores they've built up, more food upstairs can't hurt.

Queen seen?Queen cellsBroodframefuls of stores# available frames for broodHealthEstimated mitesTemper / docilityFeed givenTreatment given# supers addedWeather
C10✔ 2f? e5f?4L71kg FondabeeApiguard015°C ☁