Bee inspection & varroa test

I joined Jenn for another bee inspection the other day. The main mission of this inspection was to do a “sugar shake” or sugar roll test to check for varroa mites; a common pest on all beehives. It’s a kinda amusing test — scooping about 300 bees into a jar, roll them in powered sugar, shake them vigorously, pour them out. Basically treating bees like liquid. Yeah, they get a little cranky at being scooped & shaken, but it doesn’t hurt them. 

We had a few mites, unsurprisingly, but not too many. We’ll do the treatment once the weather cools off; can’t do it in this heat.

We also removed the honey supers, since they need to build up supplies for their winter survival. We won’t harvest any honey this year, as expected, but if they survive the winter, they should be able to provide lots of honey next year.

A couple of nice combs of honey, for the bees to eat over winter:

Sugar-coated bees, returned to the hive after the test (don’t worry, the others will clean them off):

Worker bee cells:

More honey (from the other box), on a foundationless frame:

So pretty holding it up to the light:

Beehive inspection

We inspected the beehives today. Usually Jenn does this by herself, but this time I helped out, since we were anticipating adding honey supers.

Here’s a frame with a bunch of brood (worker cells), and a little honey in the upper corners:

A bunch of honey. Note, all of this honey isn’t stuff we’ll harvest; it’s in the two brood boxes, for the bees to eat over winter:

Look what we spotted — the queen! I circled her on the picture. It can be tricky to spot the queen, amongst the thousands of other bees (plus she likes to hide away from the light); usually we just see the eggs she lays:

A foundationless frame, where the bees make their own comb, with a little honey:

Lots of honey, with some damaged cross-comb, where the bees connect two frames:

Another great-looking foundationless frame of honey:

Adding a honey super. This is a Flow box, designed to make it easier to harvest honey; we have one Flow hive (for liquid honey) and one regular hive (for comb honey):

Both hives, each with a honey super:

Beards are cool

The bees are “bearding” this morning: some hanging out above the entrance.  Totally normal behavior on hot or humid days, to help them regulate the temperature inside. Today is rather muggy, so that’s probably why.

Bee inspection

A few pics from a recent inspection of the beehives, when we added a second box to the purple hive. (Captions are now below the photos instead of above, as in previous posts.)

Jenn inspecting the purple hive; it’s amost full, so time to add another box.

Both hives now have two brood boxes, which is full-size; once they get mostly full, we’ll add a queen excluder (a screen the queen can’t get through) and honey supers (smaller boxes that will contain honey, no eggs).


Checking on the second box of the other hive; they’ve barely started on it yet. The black is the plastic foundation, the white is where the bees are starting to draw out the comb.

Bees: inspecting the hives

The sun came out for a while, so we did the second inspection of the bee hives (not counting the initial installation).

One of the boxes was getting sufficiently full, so we added a second 8-frame deep box to give them more space for brood.

Here’s some drawn-out comb, with honey in the upper corners:


The other side is still being drawn out on top of the darker plastic foundation:


A bunch of worker cells:


More honey:


Not sure about these… might be drones or worker cells:


An example of a foundationless frame, where the bees build the entire comb, attached to a bar at the top:

Beecoming beekeepers

Time for another phase of our homestead: we are now beeks — beekeepers.

This morning we picked up two nucs (nucleus hives) at the “local” bee supply store in Wilsonville (about an hour away, but pretty much everything is from our place):


The nucs are four-frame ones, half the size of our hive boxes, giving them each four empty frames to expand into before we need to add another box:


Here’s Jenn examining one of the frames. One or two bees there, all happily doing their thing:


After removing the four frames, there were a bunch of bees left in the bottom of the box:


So they got dumped in too:


Jenn in her bee suit (and you can see the new chicken coop in the background, which will give you an idea of where the hives are located):


Bunches of bees:


A frame from the second nuc:


Both hives populated, with sugar water feeders (plus pollen patties inside):

Settle in, girls! I hope you like your new homes.

Building a beehive stand

The little project for this morning was to build a stand for our beehives. I built it using recycled wood we inherited with the house, with the design inspired by ones I saw online.  The legs will sit on top of concrete blocks, for a firm foundation.

We currently have two beehives, but there’s room for three or four without getting too crowded, if we want to get more later.

We haven’t finalized where we’ll locate the hives… but we’ll be getting our bees on Friday, so we’ll decide soon!