Today was the big day! The great reveal. Had the queen been released and had my bees accepted her? My friend the beekeeper arrived with another frame to swap, this time of brood, and a pollen patty to help nourish the bees while they got themselves started with this new home. We lit the smoker, made our plan for the inspection, and donned our veils. We opted not to wear full beekeeping regalia as it’s a little warm here in southern California, and we were feeling brave. I wore gardening gloves and hoped as I got going that I wouldn’t regret this choice when I realised how much skin was revealed once I started really moving around.

First, we replaced my bottom board with a new one that has a slide out piece that I can regularly check as a more gentle way of indirectly looking into the workings of my hive. Various things fall on it for me to see whenever I pull it out: bee parts, flakes of wax, or parasites. All providing useful information about my bees without requiring me to disturb them.

Next, we began the actual inspection. I removed the upper hive body and feeder, then carefully removed the inner cover. The bees had moved to the middle of the hive. I removed and inspected three empty frames, making enough room in the hive to shift the other frames for easier viewing. I’m still pretty clumsy and learning how best to handle the frames. I’m a clutz at the best of times and feel like I’m all thumbs when handling the frames, but am sure I’ll improve in confidence over time.

Removing the first few frames

Bees are still mainly on one frame, with a few on a second. There hasn’t been a serious expansion in drawn comb, but we were able to see what appear to be eggs in a few cells and Queen Aliรจnor roaming around one corner with a few dedicated attendants. Success! The blue marking dot sure does make it easy to find her! It also helps that there aren’t many bees.

Queen Aliรจnor la Bleue

Inspecting the frame for eggs and the queen

We placed the frame of brood from my friend’s hive between the two frames where the bees were, removed the queen cage and rubber band, replaced the frames, placed a pollen patty on the top, and closed it all up after checking that they had adequate sugar syrup in the feeder.

Thankfully, these bees are rather mellow and haven’t been inclined to sting, other than that first day. I had one dodgy moment when placing the pollen patty on the top and a bee was rather focused on my face, zigzagging within inches of it. I had the foresight not to swipe at my face or the bee, and instead chose to walk away for a moment to regroup. The bee moved on and no one was harmed.