First Inspection 2017 – Trying not to screw the pooch!

Hives (A) & (B)

On Friday, March 24th I took my nephew Zack with me for the first hive work of the year. I went to my (4) hives at the doctor’s place and I couldn’t have been more pleased. The hives are strong and healthy. Since I didn’t gather much honey last year, the super count on the (4) hives goes like this: Hive A had (2) supers, B had (2), C (3), and D (4).

I “checker boarded” A, B, and D with new foundationless frames adding a super to each. On Hive C, I added last year’s empty plastic honey frames. I also added FBM type Hive Top Feeders with 1:1 sugar syrup treated with FBM Brood builder essential oils. 2 quarts was given to each hive.

On that note:

Don the Fat Bee Man has carved out a wonderful niche for himself as a teacher. I love teaching and I think Don is a very smart beekeepers, so good for him. That being said, his YouTube videos are filled with errors. I can’t figure out if they are intentional or accidental. I left comments for clarification but he doesn’t respond – so I suspect they are intentional.

Two things I’ve been very interested in are Brood Building and Mini Mating Nuc’s. This is where I found the most frustrating of errors. His nuc dimensions don’t add up and in his recipe for Brood Builder, he uses one oil while saying the name of a different one. I guess he wants you to join his class to get the accurate info.

I would love to join such a class but to be honest; MOST of the beekeepers on YouTube have such huge egos! I’ve been half-ass beekeeping for about a decade now and while I have learned a lot, there is still so much left to learn. I would love to get in with a group like Ditchdoc 129 on YouTube – they are learning together without egos and doing a great job.

Still there is a certain pride in being self/book/video educated. I’ve spent all winter watching YouTube videos and on Friday’s visit to the apiary, I felt a 100 times more confident about what I was looking at. It was as if I had watched over the shoulder of countless beekeepers for 10 years’ worth of inspections.

Anyway, I digress. So here is the brood builder recipe (I got this from Don’s videos but clarified it with several other YouTubers):

  • 1 teaspoon Tea Tree Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Wintergreen Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Spearmint Oil
  • 5-10 drops of Lemongrass Oil
  • Mix it with 1 quart of water. Then add ¼ cup of mix to 1 gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup.

Now I should point out that I’m an idiot! I didn’t look for the queen in any of my boxes. I just wasn’t thinking and in doing so I may have endangered Queen “A”. There was brood in the upper box so she might have been on the frames I checker-boarded. I pray I haven’t killed her.

Of the four hives, “A” is my most gentle. It is also the one that has the beard on it and I fear it may be about to swarm. I don’t think it had a beard before I began working on it Friday but it has one now – another reason I worry I may have done something to the queen. I went back out on Sunday and it is still there. I sat arguing with myself over what the beard meant and whether or not to split.

Everyone keeps telling me not to split them until after the Easter Cold Snap but on Tuesday, I plan to do it anyway. I also plan to bring the “A” queen and half of the hive to my house to be my breeder queen and use her for grafting.

Drier Sheet after winter –
Hive beetles are now under control.
Last Note: I got stung 9 times when I attempted to inspect Hive C without smoke – or suit. I had actually only meant to go out on Sunday and inspect the hive top feeders but I accidently bumped it… or maybe I thought I might take a quick look… truth is that once the attack began, I got very fuzzy on the details!

However, I refused to kowtow to those little bitches and so I went and got my smoker and made them behave. When I had checked all the feeders and put cinnamon powder around the hives, I sat down amongst them – meditating and worrying about what to do next.

With the start of bee season, I am sick with worry. This is the year it could all work out – as long as I don’t screw the pooch!

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