I just inspected a hive for the first time since autumn. There was quite a bit of brace comb that needed cleaning- and the hive was absolutely packed with bees. I looked for the queen on each frame (didn’t see her) and then shook the bees off the frames into the the hive so I could clean each one up. In the process of doing all that quite a few bees ended up on the ground around the hive. I am wondering if nurse bees- who have never been out of the hive- will be able to find there way back in? I tried to help some - but it isn’t easy. I placed some sticks around the hive to act as ladders for the bees to walk up.
All in all it was quite a disruptive process and I killed and injured more bees than I would like. In fact I hate killing any bees- but I realize it’s inevitable- still I would like to get better at it and reduce the carnage. After I shook my frames there were still some bees on them- and some of them ended up on the ground. My hive is too high to comfortably work the frames over the brood box.
I am thinking next time I might put a cardboard box on the ground and try and work over that- so afterwards I can shake whatever bees fall down back into the hive from that.
In the middle of everything there was a bee that managed to get into my suit… I have a ‘game theory’ that in these situations it’s better to leave the bee alone and hope it doesn’t sting you- than to try and squash it. So far every time I have tried to squash them I have instead been stung… It worked this time and the bee crawled over my face while I was working but no sting… only afterwards when i took the suit off I found it was a drone!
i’d be interested to hear any strategies for minimizing disturbance during inspections.