Friday, September 13, 2013

Inspection Notes and New Record-Keeping System

During my inspection on July 30, I noticed that there was very little honey in my hive -- either capped or uncapped. In fact, there had been almost no honey in the hive for at least a few weeks. So I began feeding 2-1 syrup, as much as they would take. And wow! have they been chugging it down. They would make any frat boy proud.

Today, I went into the hive again, and I was gratified to see my investment in sugar has paid off. My last inspection revealed that the girls were starting a collection of uncapped honey, but the difference between last week and this is unbelievable. There is a still only a bit of capped honey (syrup) on a number of bars, but there is uncapped honey all over the place.

During the last inspection report, I mentioned inserting an empty bar between the brood and honey area. In just 7 days, the bar has been completely drawn out and packed with brood and honey.

I also played around with a new record-keeping system. In the past, I've tried using a chart like the sample Christy Hemenway provides in her book on top bar beekeeping. I've tried making notes in an application on my iPhone. I've tried a couple other things as well, but none of them worked for me. Today, I was putting away some sticky tabs, and I got the idea to use them to keep track of what I was seeing. Basically, as I inspected each bar, I tacked on a sticky:
  • Green for new/empty comb
  • Yellow for honey
  • Pink for worker brood (because they're girls)
  • Blue for drone brood (because they're boys)

Because I'm a very visual person, this system actually worked pretty well for me. In the image below, I've numbered the bars.

  • Bars 1-4: I didn't inspect these because the bees were very unhappy once I started getting into the brood area. I wasn't seeing anything untoward, so I decided to close up.
  • Bars 5-11: Lots of worker brood in various stages on 5, 6, 6, 8, 10 and 11. I inserted a new bar (9) because it seemed like Austeja was running out of room. I suppose I should've put it after 10, but I didn't like the comb on 11 very much, so I decided to slip it in between better combs. Bar 11 is the brand new comb that was built out in a week (I think, because, like I said, those other tracking systems weren't working for me. I kept getting messed up.)
  • Bars 12- 20: All of these bars are at least 50% honey. The bars with only yellow stickers are at least 75% - 100% honey. The bars with multiple stickers are mostly uncapped honey, but they have some capped brood comb on them. No eggs or larvae, though. It appears that the girls are letting any existing brood on them hatch and then filling the empty comb with honey. Bar 17 has no sticker because it is another empty bar that I slipped in.
  • Bar 21: This is a brand new bar that's just starting to be drawn. Currently, there is palm-sized bit of comb on it. Cool!
The one big drawback to this new system is that the sticky tabs don't want to stick. It was a struggle to keep them on, so I think I may invest in some colored pushpins before the next inspection.

So I'm so relieved that everything looks good. Although I didn't check all the bars, I didn't see any dreaded queen cells. Lots of honey being stored away -- should be able to hit that 55lb goal soon before things get too cold.


  1. Hopefully a new beekeeper this upcoming spring. Really enjoying your post and have your blog saved in my RSS reader. Love the colored sticky post idea...

    1. Hi, Jeff! Thanks so much for commenting. I feel so honored that you've chosen to follow my blog! :-)

      I took a look at your profile, and saw that you are in Nigeria. Wow! That's so cool! No doubt you are going to have a very interesting beekeeping adventure! I definitely hope you post about your experiences!

      BTW, the post its turned out to be not such a great solution. I was on the right track with the color coding, but the post-its came off too easily. I think I wrote about that in the subsequent inspection notes. I switched to multi-colored pushpins -- I got the same ease ability to color code, and the pins stayed put. Cheers!

    2. Noted about the push pins. Just working in Nigeria. Soon to purchase some land in eastern Oklahoma and will place some TBH on the property. I'll still work overseas, probably making my bees go feral.


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