Spring Time = Sting Time

In my defense, we’ve had an abundance of rainy weekends this winter which has prevented me from getting out to check the hives as often as I would like. This early spring has also thrown off my timing, and when I showed up to inspect the hives today, I really thought I would have a nice easy inspection.

Boy was I wrong.

Both hives were busting out at the seams which made them super aggressive during the inspection. I checked Knives’ hive first and the top super was still all honey. I had a heck of a time getting it off because the girls had built comb between the frames of the two supers and used them to raise brood. I ended up ripping up the comb to remove the super killing the poor brood in the process.

This was my first giant fail as a beekeeper. Poor Knives had to overcome so much last summer from the drought, a supersedure, and a pesticide incident, and now I don’t add an extra super early enough.

Instead of sulking, I need to repair the situation because Austin will be in full blown nectar flow in a few weeks if we don’t get a freak late freeze. I added the bee escape to take off a super full of honey and also added an extra box of empty frames. I’ll harvest the honey tomorrow and put the super back on for them to clean up the leftovers.

I then moved on to Marge’s hive, and it was a good thing I did her second. I honestly had a “I may get stung to death” moment after I got down a few supers. She also built comb between the frames for brood which made it extremely difficult to remove the frames and the supers. I was just covered in angry bees and got stung twice on the neck through my veil. Even though I couldn’t go all the way down, I feel that the bottom supers may be empty as they moved up the hive during the winter. I’m going to try and check tomorrow morning when the temperature is closer to 50 degrees. I’m hoping the colder temperature will prevent as many bees from taking to the air, but not be too cold to get chilled brood. Any advice on dealing with a hive gone completely bonkers would be much appreciated.

I’ll end this post with a macro shot of what a stinger looks like after it is removed from your neck.

Venom sac + stinger on tweezers


Filed under beekeeping

4 responses to “Spring Time = Sting Time

  1. Glad you lived to tell the tale! Is there any chance they might have been usurped by a local AHB population?

    • It is certainly possible. This hive did re-queen itself last year, but they were never this bad. I may need to buy a new queen, but based on this experience, I’m shuddering at the thought of trying to find and kill the old queen. It might be a Thunderdome situation.

  2. Jay S, in OK

    Regarding the problem of comb built between the frames, thus linking the upper and lower brood boxes, I had the same problem last year. My solution was to make a garrote to slice the comb apart. I connected two 3/8” copper tees to each end of an appropriate length of the thinnest picture hanging wire I could find. I just slide it into the front edge between the boxes, and pull straight back, with a sawing motion if desired. It is less destructive than trying to tear the boxes apart, and disturbs the bees less. I usually clean the bottoms/tops of the frames during my inspections, so I only needed it for the spring inspection.

    • Excellent idea. I usually keep my frames nice and tidy during the year as well, but the first inspection after the winter months can be difficult. I’ll keep this in mind for next year.

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