Monday, May 04, 2009

Beekeeping: Week 1 Checkup

We opened up our hives for the first time a week after their initial introduction. So far, things are looking good.

Let me give you a bit of background: a normal hive box has 10 frames. When introducing a queen to a hive, one frame must be removed in order to accommodate the queen cage (see previous post on beekeeping). This leaves a large gap in between two of the frames. Wikipedia states that "in 1851 the Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth (1810-1895), a native of Philadelphia, discovered that if a space of 1 cm (3/8 inch) is left in the hive for the bees to move around in, the bees will neither build comb in the space nor cement it shut. This he called bee space." Unfortunately, removing a frame leaves a space that is larger than the bee space. Consequently, our ladies filled up that extra space with free-form honeycomb. It was fragrant and lovely. But needed to be removed so we could place the 10th frame into place. First we checked to make sure that each queen had safely vacated her cage. They had.

Then we carefully removed the excess comb, brushing bees off the comb as we went.

As it was a cool day, we checked the frames quickly to verify that our queens had laid down a strong egg pattern within the frames, and then quickly closed them back up again. We spotted one queen who appeared to be in good health, followed by her entourage at the center of the hive. Then we headed back to the house, munching on honey filled comb.