Didn't make it through inspection

I performed an inspection today and added another deep brood box, as my hive was running out of room during my last inspection. While looking through my super frames, the bees were generally unbothered and calm. When i moved to the brood box, all the bees let loose and started letting me know they were upset. 3 frames in and one got through my glove and I had to quickly reconstruct the hive and get the heck out of there. My question is; what do I do now? I really need to check for queen cells and clean burr comb from the bottom of my frames, but I don’t want to open it up again too soon and risk them getting that upset again. I did use smoke and it seemed to only make them more angry. Ahhhh!

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Hi Heather, smoke always works for me. I discussed smoke making bees more angry with my mentor. Then we started discussing the possibility of some smoke having more co2 than others, because co2 really makes bees more defensive. Maybe if you get your smoker burning well, before adding the material to create smoke, you wont get as much co2 coming out with the smoke. Smoke makes bees dive in to eat honey, while co2 makes bees defensive. That’s something to consider.

The other thing I would suggest is to use single brood boxes, which makes brood inspections much easier, because by properly managing a single brood box (which some do in Canada), you will never have a super strong colony to deal with, that will still produce plenty of honey.

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So if I’m understanding my limited knowledge so far, if i run a single brood box, I’ll need to do asplit very soon or risk them swarming… right?

Just a side note on the smoke, make sure it is cold smoke not hot smoke. I always test it on my wrist first(vent area on gloves) as I am still a newbee and have not perfected my smoker packing.

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I’m not sure where I learned it but I get the smoker fuel good and hot with embers then add more, pack it down and on top pack some green grass or whatever I pull off the ground still living - keeps the temperature down and keeps ash and embers from coming out when you’re running low. Burns slow and blows cool.

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Hi Heather, preemptive swarm control splits is how I manage my bees. It works in the vast majority of cases. It’s just a matter of getting in before the population starts preparing to swarm. I let the splits make new queens, which I’m able to sell after the new queen has proven to be a good layer.

I can’t advise you what to do, without knowing the status of your colony & your local climatic conditions.

PS @Htwo.u . I believe that a single full depth brood box will work in your climate without feeding sugar, if one vital criteria is met, provided the bees have backfilled the reduced brood with honey, leading into winter.

I did a quick calculation one day after reading how much honey @Doug1 's bees consume during winter with his bees in a bee house in Canada. I calculated that his bees consumed 3 full depth frames of honey, per hive.

Therefore, if the bees backfill the reduced brood with honey, leading into winter, & the hive is as well insulated as Doug’s hives are, there will be way more than enough honey in a single brood box, to carry a colony over winter.

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First inspection can definitely be daunting! Don’t let it rattle you - you’ll get the hang of it :sunglasses:

Regardless of what number of boxes you end up with, bees will eventually build up to swarm in spring. There are other more important considerations for how to choose your hive configuration, number one being enough honey stores for winter survival. Single boxes might be run anywhere, but those beeks are supplementing with sugar to get through the cold/zero forage months.

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Thanks, Eva. This was my 4th inspection, so i was very humbled when that one little stinger got thru my glove! LOL

I’ve been stressed over adding the 2nd brood box, but i know it’ll be best come winter. I peeked in the top this morning and there are still lots of bees working the super that I placed back on top of the new brood box. I have a mentor hopefully coming over this weekend to help me take another shot at inspection. Then I’ll leave them alone for a month or so and see how they do.

I’ll amend that to “first season” inspections :grin:

Best rule of thumb is to wait to add a super - Flow or any kind - until your brood boxes are 80% full of drawn comb, brood & food, and 80% covered with bees.

If you add too much space too soon, even a strong population can be stretched too thin with all the jobs. This can lead to a poorly drawn-out second brood box and pests like small hive beetles and wax moths getting the upper hand in unguarded areas.

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Well, the problem i had was that I added a super 3 weeks ago and they’ve already filled 60% of it. So I added another deep brood on top of the first brood and put the super back on top of both broods. I will only harvest the super once they get the second brood box full. Not ideal, I’m sure, but i don’t want to take the chance of only having one brood box through winter.

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Hi Heather, I should have said what I said in my PS in this reply, anyway it’s worth considering, seeing as there will be at least 3 full frames of honey, plus all of the large honey arcs above whatever brood, if any remains during your winter.

In relation to cranky bees: It’s important to understand what triggers defensive bee behavior, which I’m sure your mentor will explain.

Just a couple of things to bare in mind. Always remove any bur comb off frames, the inside of boxes & the QE before putting the hive back together again. Hopefully this will make the next inspection easier, & less disruptive to the bees. Always work opposite the entrance. Use smoke before opening the hive & before removing any frames, when needed. Keep your movements slow & gentle. If none of that works, your colony might need to be re-queened.

Some people use the 3 strikes rule. If a colony is angry 3 times in a row, they re-queen.

A sting through a glove or bee suit is not so bad because not much venom gets injected, like it would on bare flesh.

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I really appreciate the responses.
This could have been my problem…i have a ton of burr comb on the buttons of my brood frames right now. They were that way when i got my nuc and tbh i just haven’t had the heart to scrape it off and kill all the beebees in there. Lesson learned. I also didn’t have enough fuel to make it through and after reading the responses here and doing some more reading, i think it may have been too hot.

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When you say “beebees”, did you mean baby bees (brood)? Generally any comb that is attached to frames that doesn’t fit within the confines of a frame, is usually drone comb, that we don’t really need an excess of, therefore scrape it off. If we damage any brood in our attempt to tidy up the frames, don’t despair because, as long as it is not excessive, the bees will quickly clean it up. They do that as a matter of urgency. Excessive amounts can lead to beetle damage. I use smoke to drive bees away from where I want to replace frames, because an excess of dead & trapped bees can also lead to beetle problems. Beetles love to lay eggs in brood, especially damaged brood, as well as dead & trapped/dying bees.

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Yes, I’m still struggling with killing any of them, but i realize that’s silly.

I’ve read and read books, articles, watched YouTube videos, but when it comes to hands on Im such an amateur. I really do appreciate these replies. I’m hoping to get a mentor here in Saturday to help me get my frames fully inspected and cleaned up.

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Well I’m happy to report that my mentor was able to come by and help me get my hive inspected. She’s very experienced and agreed that my girls were VERY upset by the time we got through the bottom brood box. I was stung through my gloves 4 times and managed to get stung directly on the tip of my nose after letting my face get to close to my screen. :woman_facepalming: The last 2 nights have been pretty miserable.

The good news is, with her help, we cleaned up all the excess comb outside of the frames, confirmed there are no queen cells and that they’re working on building out the frames of the new brood box i put on the week before. She thinks they might be a bit aggressive right now simply because they have about 70% of the super filled. She also advised that I smoke my suit before my next inspection. Otherwise she thought my hive looked and was doing fantastic. She taught me a new trick I’m going to try using, since I’ve not had great luck with my smoker… she spritz’s her hive with sugar water when checking.

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My old mentor used to do that to control africanized hives. He said it works pretty well if you are liberal with the spray - the bees get too heavy to fly, and they are more interested in cleaning up the syrup than trying to attack. He used 1:1 white sugar in water. :wink:

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