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Flying Solo

My first solo hive inspection today. Nice, warm day (about 23˚C) and no clouds, and the girls were buzzing merrily. My other girls had been making some noise, so I think I’ll find some cackleberries there – but I digress.

Some lessons today:

  • I really need some white painters overalls – my blue ones apparently annoy bees, and they smell of EP90 (diff oil from a landrover).
  • The gloves I used are really not suited for this. They are for welding. You cannot feel or grab things with those gloves. Next time I will try my NBC gloves I bought for $2. If they stop nerve agents, they may stop bee stings.
  • You can’t operate a smart phone camera with welding gloves.
  • A long screwdriver works OK as a hive tool.
queen bee

My queen, on a frame packed with bees. She is about 1.5x the length of the workers. The drones are fatter than workers, with bulgy eyes.

I found the queen, and there seems to be a pretty good pattern of brood, with few gaps. On the other hand, I really don’t know what I am looking at yet.

Hive inspection

Carefully lifting out the frames, examining the brood pattern, finding the queen.

The queen was in the middle frame, just visible in the photo, taken by my darling Wife, with a large zoom lens. I only have one hood and even that was just a mosquito net. No stings today, but my gloves copped about four, mainly because they are so fat and brutal.

I can’t see much honey and they have not yet begun to draw out the top box. I guess I can wait a few weeks before putting on a super (that is the top frames that they will put the honey in). I found out recently that one of my students is works for a beekeeper – actually for the largest apiary in the South Island. He may come in useful some day for a bit of advice.

I found out recently about the pheromone which bees use as there alarm signal, enticing them to sting anything which moves, called isoamylacetate, or 3 methyl butyl ethanoate. I can make it by the beaker full in about 30 seconds in the lab. I probably shouldn’t though.


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