Observation Day 2018

Opening the Hive Observation Day 2018

Observation Day 2018

One of my daughters friends and I are both beginning beekeepers. She is a year ahead of me and was gracious enough to let me observe and ask questions while she had a beekeeping veteran visiting her hive with her.

She had previously added space to allow for feeding at the top of her hive, but due to multiple bee stings she didn’t take it off over the summer. So when she took the outer cover off her hive she could tell the bees had built comb within the space.

It was decided that the best thing to do at this point was to leave that go for the time being. To take it apart would mean inevitably busting the comb and have honey everywhere.

The top deep brood box was removed to check on the bottom box.

Checking Frames Observation Day 2018

We could see on the bottom frames where there had been brood. Apparently, the queen is slowing down – just as she is supposed to this time of year. Drones are being kicked out of the hive. There is lots of honey in the top box for winter. Her expert said things are looking good for her hive for the season her hive is in.

The only other concern was to check for varroa mites.

Checking for Mites Observation Day 2018

This can be done using the powdered sugar method or the alcohol wash method.

She opted for the powdered sugar method. It is a little less accurate, but the participating bees have the possibility of surviving. The alcohol method is more accurate, however, it is death for about 300 participating bees.

For the powdered sugar mite check a 1/2 cup of bees are scooped up and put into a jar. A wire lid is placed on top. Then about a tablespoon of powdered sugar is sprinkled in to coat them. The bees are then gently shook to cover them. Next, the jar is turned upside down and shook over a white bin or other light surface. If there are mites the will be seen falling off with the powdered sugar.

Then the bees can be released back into the hive.

Powdered Bees Released Observation Day 2018


Luckily, she only had evidence of a couple of mites. About 9 mites in the sample would indicate a 3% (or greater) infestation. At that point the decision has to be made whether or not to treat the hive.

At the end of my little Observation Day we made a pact to help each other more with our hives or at least be accountability partners to keep each other on track.



P.S. If you want to go down a rabbit hole I like this site as a resource to learn more about bees.

No Honey

“First year beekeepers don’t usually get honey.”

Yep. I heard them say that more than once in the talks and meetings I attended. Yet that didn’t stop me from going to the store and buying an uncapping knife, honey jars, and all the rest of what I would need to harvest some honey.

Then lo and behold, when I went back to the hive, – No honey.

There was one frame in the top brood box that was messed up. The bees were building the comb oddly – basically not how we beekeepers want to see it. I removed it. The honey in it wasn’t capped so it is a bit watery. Tastes good, but it is not the consistency of honey.

First year honey harvest 🙂

I put the empty frame back in and left one super on. I don’t think they have time to fill it, but I’ve also been told you don’t want your bees to get bored. Hopefully they will have time to work on the now empty frame I left. There seems to be plenty of honey in the top brood box to get them through winter.

They also say “only about 20% of first year beekeepers are successful.” The bees are still in the hive working their little hearts out. Success! Instead of greedily focusing on stealing honey from them, I will concentrate on getting them through the winter.