An Inspection Reflection

 “Little by little, one travels far” – J.R.R. Tolkien, English Writer and Academic


Second year into beekeeping, and I still find it hard to contain my excitement.  After the big install of bees into my three hives, I was itching to get in and do an inspection.  What I really needed to do was chillout and wait for my queens to be released from their cages by the workers in the hive.  Ugh, five days of waiting; patience is not my thing.  However, little by little the days ebbed away.


Time for the reveal…

After the wait, I geared up and took a quick peek just to make sure the queens had been released.  Arya, the Italian queen, had safely been rescued from her marshmallow hatch queen cage by her workers.  Queens Arwen (Carniolan) and Leia (Saskatraz) had a little more difficulty on exiting their cage.  When I checked to see if they had been released, I discovered that the workers had only gotten around to eating half the candy, so both queens were still stuck in their cages.  I made the executive decision to risk it and try a direct release.  Thank my lucky stars, both releases went off without a hitch!  Arwen and Leia made it securely into the hives. 


A tiny wait, then a look-see…

After making sure my queens were out, I closed up the hives without disturbing them further.  I figured I’d give everyone a little time to settle in.  Less than a week later I decided it was time for the first hive inspection. The results are in:

Arya’s Italian hive was thriving!  I found both eggs and capped brood, the overall feel of the hive was just a booming amount of productivity!  While I did not personally see Queen Arya, I definitely knew she was busy.

Queen Arya’s domain.

Next, I moved onto Queen Arwen’s Carniolan hive. I did not catch a glimpse of her, but I knew she was there.   She had certainly been busy laying eggs, and although there was no capped brood, I was happy with her progress.  Her hive was a little less bustling than Arya’s hive but still busy. 

Queen Arwen’s ladies.

Lastly, I opened Queen Leia’s Saskatraz hive, and I actually was graced with an audience with her (it’s always an honor to be greeted by her majesty).  I could see she was also busy laying eggs.  Although, I would say she had the least amount of eggs and activity in her hive when compared to her beeyard mates, she was nowhere near a point where I felt I should be concerned.

Her Majesty, Queen Leia, doing her thing.


A Happy Beekeeper!

I’m certainly pleased with my girls and looking forward to working with them and watching them progress.  Bees never fail to amaze me with their hard-working attributes and dedication to each other. I knew last year that I was hooked on bees, and the connection is still there.  I am absolutely psyched for my new journey with Queens Arya, Arwen, and Leia.


Your Adventures?

So less about me and more about you!  I’d love if you’d share with me your adventures in beekeeping as of late.  Has the season been kind so far?  Feel free to drop me a comment below!

I’ll quit droning on now… get it? I’ll show myself out.



14 thoughts on “An Inspection Reflection

Leave a Reply to Granny Roberta in nw CT Cancel reply

  1. Bill Korb


    This is my fifth year, and I still get itchy to work with my hives as soon as I can. I over-wintered three hives (in Chippewa Falls, WI, so similar weather to you) and all made it…but I then had to replace all three queens. I suspect in my case the queens were weakened due to having formic strips on my hives when we had a couple of surprise 90F+ days in mid-September last Fall. The warning on the packaging is that they shouldn’t be on the hives above 85F, and I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the weather forecast, I’m afraid. 🙁

    I switched to Saskatraz last year (from Carnies in years past), and have been very pleased with their progress. I figure what makes a bee successful in Saskatchewan should translate to northern WI or MN. 🙂

    Good luck in your bee adventures.


  2. Ande

    I purchased 2 Saskatraz & 1 Italian hive. 2 of the hives are thriving & one Saskatraz is a bit behind. It seems like a third of the bees are gone. The queen is laying eggs so I’m hoping it will soon have more workers to help out. Love reading your blog!

  3. Joe R

    Good to here of your update.

    A 2nd year beekeeper from the Atlanta area. I started with 2 hives & new equipment last year. Swarms May 1 & 2, 2018 did little to help things. The Forsyth Beekeepers have been very helpful with multiple classes and kept me on track. I also had a good Mentor.

    One hive overwintered successfully.
    Purchased 2 NUCs and with splits I was able to make my first harvest of 75# yesterday.

    Last month I passed the Certified Beekeepers Test.

    Off to Scotland in 10 days. Have a meeting set with Beekeepers in Inverness while there. A wee dram to share stories with bees will be enjoyable.

    Enough of my ramblings, time to bottle, label, and determine who gets honey!
    Best of luck to you

  4. Christian A Schelthoff

    My two hives got packages installed Saturday, so now I wait to check (hives didn’t make it through the winter, unfortunately). These packages were really fresh – every single bee left the box for the hive and no deaders within. Lots of activity outside and yes, I do go up to the hives and talk to them every day.

  5. Brad H.

    I got the bug for bees years ago, but finally took the plunge this spring; purchased woodware from Mann Lake in Woodland, while visiting my kids, and received my first nuc on Saturday, May 11. Having read the books and watching volumes of YouTube vids, I successfully installed the nuc. Now, three weeks later, things are progressing so well that I’ve had to add the excluder and a super. I’ve already ordered woodware for hive 2 and 3, but I’m going to try and fill them with locally caught bees.

  6. Fred

    2nd year BEEK here. It’s amazing the mistakes we make as newbies. I made splits and didn’t want to wait. So i bought 2 queens. When i released one 4 or 5 days later it politely flew away as I released her and did not come back! What that was $38! I got a different queen and after releasing her 2 weeks later nothing – no eggs or anything. i finally gave up on that split and combined her with another box of bees.

    my main hive, thought also currently queenless has produced 2 Deeps full of nectar already. I’m hoping the swarm cell left behind hatches and she turns into a good queen.

    Love your Blog – a Connecticut Beekeeper in King Arthur’s Court.

  7. Tracy Shelanskey

    I’m also new to bee keeping and looking forward to a great honey season, I started with a wintered over hive and I bought a 3#package,I am up to 5 hives and just caught a swarm!I can’t wait to visit my girls and looking forward to growing my bee yard

  8. Linda Alldredge

    2nd year beek here. Got 1 package (Saz queen) early in May and 3 nucs locally. I installed the package on drawn comb to give them a head start. The package superseded my original queen and replaced her with a fantastic wall to wall brood layer. I’m following the University of Guelph (UoG) videos on YouTube. Paul Kelly, the head beekeeper has a fantastic one on comb building. Before I super I’m making sure I have all 10 frames of fully built comb in prep for winter.

  9. Granny Roberta in nw CT

    Three of four colonies made it through the winter. I split the strongest one, so I have a fourth colony in the process of establishing itself. I had been giving it a frame of mixed brood every week from the strongest colony, but I last time I looked it seemed to have brood on frames other than the one I’d given it the week before of an age to suggest it had a queen. (I’m handicapped by an inability to see eggs and youngest larvae unless the light is perfect, which it isn’t–nothing but clouds and rain here all spring. Also handicapped by bad memory and poor note-keeping. Also, Math In My Head skill–so vital for keeping track of what kind of brood would be from which queen–may be lacking.)
    A few days ago, I witnessed my second strongest colony swarming. Then I saw something I’d never seen before. The swarm returned to the hive and within an hour or so had all gone back inside. I got a honey super on that one straight away, but ‘everyone says’ if they’ve decided to swarm they’ll try again later no matter what ya do.
    Then yesterday, my strongest colony (which already had two supers on it) swarmed. It landed in a tree right over one of our “barns” (really a workshop/shed). Usually my swarms land in the tops of 60 foot tall trees and I wave them goodbye, but this one was just SO CLOSE.
    Unfortunately I have always had acrophobia and despite going up on a ladder and trying my best, I COULD NOT step over onto the roof. My partner, taking pity on me, managed to overcome his APIPHOBIA, put on a bee suit for the first time ever, climb up onto the roof as if that was nothing, and shake the swarm into a cardboard box, which he handed down to me. Miraculously, I was able to find the queen, get her in a queen cage, rubber band her to an undrawn frame in a spare box, and shake some bees in with her.
    Because of our separate phobias, neither me nor my partner could have done this alone. And whether this colony settles in or not, at least we will always be able to say we’ve caught a swarm. I love beekeeping.

  10. David from upstate/central New York.

    I got my first NUC on May 1st. My queen is very elusive. I’ve only seen here 3 times. So I understand not being able to find/see your queens. I’d see larva and capped brood the first couple weeks during hive inspection. It wasn’t until my girls had drawn out new comb did I see eggs. I have to say that was exciting to see eggs! The last time I saw my queen I took a picture to prove to myself that she existed. I’ve got the green marker but haven’t succeeded in marking her yet.

    My girls have already out grown the first deep and I’ve added another deep. I’ve come to realize they don’t care to much for wax coated plastic foundations especially when you give them wax starter strips on an open frame. I quickly learned to add fishing line to the frames. In the week since giving them a starter strip frame they have one already 3/4 drawn down. I wish I could add a photo to show it. It’s probably a good thing that I can’t add a photo or this blog would be full of them.

  11. Doug, north west Indiana

    I had a hive die out in December due to the Verona mite. (I did treat for it) The other one that made it and is doing very well. This is my second year with the bees. I added another brood box which makes 3 with 3 super. We are having a very good season so far. The 3 new nuks are doing well. The nuk from California is really doing well. The other two are moving along nicely I got them a week or two after. I did have a hive that the queen was not laying well at all and my neighbor is having the same issue with one of his new hives. The guy I bought the hive from gave me a replacement nuk because he wanted to know what the issue is with that hive. I did mention about re-queening it but he wanted to see what it was and why she was acting that way. I haven’t heard yet. I do really enjoy have bees. One other guy that I’ve been talking to is getting bees next year.

  12. Tanner Lundy

    Hi Krista,
    I have been Beekeeping for 5 years now and was doing the the 3 deep brood system that is recommended for MN beekeepers by the UofMN, Marla Spivak, because of our long winters. I was also trying to do natural Beekeeping which means letting the bees do there thing and be less hands on and only treat with organic means.
    But I have found that this system just didn’t feel right… I was inundated with three deeps for one hive it was an arduous job and I didn’t feel like I was actually managing my hives. So I made a switch this year to single brood box hive management…. I love it!! It’s so much easier to manage the hive, find the Queen, look for queen cells, during swarm season, check for diseases and treat them. I finally feel like a beekeeper. Single brood box system works!!
    If you are interested in it I highly recommend UoG Honey Bee Research Centre you tube channel
    > episode single vs. double
    and also Devan Rawn, His you tube channel
    > episode why managing bee hives as single brood chambers works

    Happy Beekeeping and God Bless!!

  13. Nancy Willis

    Krista….you’re doing great, and I really like that you are trying different breeds of Queens – should bee a very interesting year! I have a question for any of you that might have a suggestion. Believe me, I’m not bragging, but my husband and I are just in our 2nd year of beekeeping, and have been blessed(?) with an overabundant honey harvest. We really need to wholesale what we have as soon as possible…..and ideas? We are in Texas.

    1. Krista

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m happy to hear that you had an epic honey harvest! I’m not sure exactly how many pounds of honey you harvested but for an ASAP honey sale I’d say check out your local bakeries, restaurants and Co-ops. I’m sure they would love to purchase some great local honey! If your willing to run the booth, a farmer’s market might be an awesome fit, too.

      I hope this info helps. Thank you and best wishes in all your beekeeping endeavors!