6/21/13

Buzzing Bees Blog: Inspecting Hives with Evan, the Bee-Smoker

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 

Both of the hives in the Arcadia Apiary are quite young and somewhat vulnerable, so Evan and I opened and inspected them on our second visit to the farm. 

When I inspect the hives, Evan – outfittd in his junior beekeeper suit -- helps by using the smoker. He is becoming quite skilled at directing smoke into the hives, which calms the bees  and makes them less inclined to sting. Evan told me that the bees like him more than they like me, because he has the smoker! 

We start our inspection by taking off the top of the hive box, known as the “hive body.” Once open, we take each frame out of the hive to get clues about the health of the bees.  A normal hive body has 10 frames where the bees build their comb. The bees grow young bees and store honey on these frames.  We look for the presence of a queen bee.  She is the largest and most important bee in the hive, as she lays all of the eggs that create new bees.  We also look to see how heavy the frames are with bees and honey—the heavier the better.  As the colony grows, they will begin to make more honey to eat during the winter. If we’re lucky, the bees may make enough honey so that we can harvest and eat it too!

Of the two Arcadia hives, one is strong, so we add another empty body to it so the bees can make more comb and honey. 

The other hive still looks pretty weak. Evan, my expert bee-smoker, and I will pay special attention to this hive over the next several weeks to make sure it strengthens.


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