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Solo frame Inspection as a newbie - Never again

Hubris is a dangerous thing in beekeeping. I’ve done several hive and frame inspections with my bee buddy but all my frames were full so I wanted to see if they were capped because I’ve had some amazing harvests.
I didn’t want to bother my bee buddy on a Sunday so decided to try solo.
There was so much wax between the frames that I had to prise it out with my hive tool. Luckily I had lit my smoker.
Quick puff and so far so good.
The first frame was well and truly stuck but with some persistence I prised it free. Took it out, rested it on a corner then …because the outer wax had honey on it and in it …it slipped out of my hands and fell onto the ground, I have to report the bees were well and truly p***ed off by now and let me know in no uncertain terms. I leant it against a wall and left them alone. Every frame had been sealed in place so I just moved each and every one into the vacant spot until I
had inspected them all. 60% capped so no harvest yet.
Apologising to the bees I managed to get the fallen frame back without too much drama.
Bees left on the ground I scooped up and put them on the landing board at the front of the hive.
Luckily no damage done to either myself or the bees, however I feel incredibly guilty for any stress I might have caused my bee family.
Yes, hubris is not a good thing and I don’t think I’ll be doing that solo for a good while yet.


Hi Heather. You shouldn’t say “never again”. I think the main thing to take away from today’s exercise is to look back & think about what went wrong & what lessons can be learnt. I’m sure that if you do that, the next inspection will be a lot smoother.

I have a couple of tips in case you don’t already use them. #1 is to always work opposite the entrance. #2 basically is all about your smoker. Give them smoke before you go in. Keep your smoker going throughout the whole inspection. Give them smoke before removing & replacing frames. Use smoke to drive bees away from where you want to replace things.



Thank you. Always good to have handy hints. I was working from the side and back and luckily had the smoker on hand.
You are right, learn from experiences. It hasn’t dented my confidence but lessons definitely learned,


Its a good idea to have a dummy board as your first frame. Its easy to remove and won’t upset or roll any bees as you do it. This will give you some space to separate and move the other frames into.

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That’s a great idea. The frames are a pretty tight fit. Thanks

Hi Jim, going by the wording of the topic description, I figured that the inspection was of the Flow frames, not the brood. So therefore that would rule out the use of a dummy board. I think, by removing the rear panel first can help when removing & replacing Flow frames.

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Yes, that’s correct Jeff, it was an inspection of the flow frames to see if they were capped.
One of my problems resulted in the fact that the bees had created comb between the frames. That’s what made it so hard to remove the frames. They were pretty stuck.


All my first mistakes seemed major to me and I felt awful about them too! Posting about them here made all the difference because of the lovely support and helpful tips everyone gave me. Thank goodness for that, because I never found a mentor or buddy as I was getting started! You’ll be just fine :sunglasses:

My tip is to have an empty deep box next to your hive, and place that first frame in it as a more stable resting place. It won’t set all the way in properly but that doesn’t matter for this purpose. Then you only have to lift partly up, or even just slide the next ones over a little and peer down to get an idea. Full and almost-full Flow frames are heavy!!


What a wonderful idea. Thanks very much.

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I agree with Jeff, don’t say “never again”. Inspections are very intimidating for a newbie, but with time and experience comes confidence. Having extra set of hands is just a bonus.


You’re right. Having extra pair of hands is always helpful. Apart from anything else, a full frame is pretty heavy.
Thank you everybody for all your positive input.


agree, and heaving the super off to inspect the brood is half the effort… you can use your hive tool to cut between the frames to remove burcomb sticking frames today, then level the frame from the viewing window, then using the hook to lift the other end, worst case, you can level off the steel wires…

Yes, the frames are heavy and are a pretty tight fit and I’m always aware of being gentle to my bee family.
I am in awe of my bees and after reading about them and how they live, work and thrive I’m even more impressed.


Jeff, you are correct. i misread. The dummy board is for the brood box.

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@Heddyjan Hi there, just had to let you know, I did a hive inspection yesterday and lost control of one frame :grimacing:. It slipped from the right hand and hit the edge of the hive, the bees instantly responded by attacking my right hand and I took it like a beekeeper :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:, fully deserved it. Luckily my gloves were close, so I was able to recover fairly quickly. I did have a rusty…I mean…trusty assistant and got smoked to calm things down. Bees had dropped to the floor and it was a challenge not to stand on them.

So even though I had prepared with an empty box to hang the first inspected frame on, had an assistant manning the smoker, even had my flow frame super & queen excluder ready, just in case it was required, had all the bases covered….I still managed to let a frame slip from my hand.

Must be some sort of initiation thing :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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Glad it wasn’t just me :joy:
A frame full of honey is slippery. At least I had my gloves on and had my smoker on hand.
My bees were pretty p***ed off too.
My hive is in a courtyard area with small quartz stones so I was scooping up quartz gravel with the bees on top and putting it near the hive entrance.
I felt really guilty but it’s a lesson learned.

@Heddyjan Oh yes, don’t mention the guilt ! I must have apologised a thousand times….even as they attacked my hand :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. Tell you what though, having an empty upturned drawer close, really helps to place a frame on to give you room to inspect the rest of the hive. In fact the ladies had joined frame one & two together causing damage to the honey section, but instead of honey leaking onto the ground, it was at least contained in the draw and the bees cleaned it up. I left them to it for a while then returned and placed the drawer up against the hive and ten minutes later, all was right with the world…apart from the havoc inside the hive that is :woozy_face:

I’d never noticed before but do they usually use comb to join the frames or is that unusual?
Mine were likewise attached and I had to use my hive tool to separate them and prise them loose.

Very common, especially in the top box of the hive, but also at the front and back parts of lower frames.

Surprised it all didn’t melt in our recent heatwave. 40+c is no joke for either bees or keepers.
I constantly watered the surrounding areas with cool water and made sure the numerous watering stations I had set up were always full.

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