I called the Middlesex bee inspector last week and told him I was a new beekeeper in the area. He was very quick to come by and inspect my hives. And it was exciting for me to have an expert take a look. The bottom line: I passed! Yeah. He said my hives look super.
We started first at the far side of the yard, looking over at the hives. He said they are in a good location with lots of morning sun, maybe a bit shady in the afternoon. It’s good they have a nice big water source with the pond nearby. He loved to see all the purple loose strife, pepper bush and round white flowers (I forget what he called them) blooming. He wasn’t concerned about the location being too damp. He looked at the hive traffic and saw my white hive is very active and the green one has fewer bees, but still very active. I explained the recent queen replacement and dip in numbers during the process.
He likes to start with the healthiest hive first, so he opened the white hive. Yes, its full of bees! I had two supers on and he said the second wasn’t needed. It wasn’t being filled and lots of room still in the first. He thought I’d get a good amount of honey by the end of fall, but said it’s been a slow honey season for some reason this summer. So the top super came off.
He opened the hive and pulled out a few frames from the top box. Ones at edges and in the middle. Spot checking. He said its best not to bother the bees more than is needed and recommends only checking a few frames at most every three weeks. Look for laying pattern and food stores. No need to find the queen.
Then he opened the green hive. He noticed, as I had told him, how aggressive they are. They’ve been gradually settling down since they were without the queen. But still they are very protective. He got a good sting on his back shoulder as he was closing up. Before that he was able to check a couple frames and could see lots of food and a nice laying pattern. He said I have a good queen and even though that hive might not make honey for me this year, it was good going into winter to have a young, naturally mated queen. He thought the green hive might do better over-wintering than the white.
So all is good.
I am interested in the inspection process and kind of stumbled into it. He said he is paid by the State and likes to looks at every hive in the area once a year. He serves a function to both look for disease and to mentor beekeepers. Well, it was a very helpful experience for me!