plenty of bees in the horizontal hive

First Horizontal Hive Inspection of 2023

It has been an unusually warm winter here.

Despite a week during which we had subzero (!) and single-digit temps, it’s only snowed a few times, and it never really got and stayed cold.

None of that is good for the bees, because if they are out and busy, they will run through their food stores and not have enough to get to spring.

I was concerned about my hive, having seen them out so many times during the winter this year, and today it was warm enough to open the hive and check on everybody. They still have some food stores, and are also building up some frames with nectar. I know the maples have been in bloom, and possibly something else as well, or they wouldn’t be this far into honey production.

making new deep frames with wired foundation for the horizontal hive
making new deep frames with wired foundation for the horizontal hive
opening the hive for the first time in 2023
opening the hive for the first time in 2023

At any rate I was able to do my inspection, as well as add some brand new frames for them to work on. While I was in there, I looked everywhere and didn’t see the queen, but there were a few frames with new capped (and uncapped) brood, so I know she’s in residence or has been recently.

I also saw some queen cups, but a lot of hives make those as a matter of course, and not just because there’s a current need for a queen. The need for a new queen happens when a hive swarms or something happens to the queen. I plan to allow this colony of bees to swarm as often as they like, because I’m not worried about making splits or adding new hives this year, or even harvesting much honey.

Although I imagine we’ll get a few jars!

It was a fantastic day to be in the hive; the bees were so sweet and happy that I didn’t need smoke at all, and never even had a guard bumping at my veil.

bees stringing together in between frames
bees stringing together in between frames

However, after I’d finished and had taken off my bee veil and gloves, I turned around to leave and I walked smack into a bee. She stung me on the eyelid, which was particularly painful (painful for me, but sadly lethal for her) and now my eye is swollen entirely shut.

Sigh. These things happen. I almost never get stung more than once a year (some years not at all), but it’s nearly always when I am NOT actually working in the hives.

One year it was after honey harvest, when I grabbed the handle of a pot the bees had been cleaning and failed to see the bee on the underside of the handle. Another year I accidentally knelt on a bee while working in the garden. Once it was while I was awkwardly trying to manage my first honey harvest and I was so stressed and ham-handed I got stung on the back of my wrist (through gloves).

plenty of bees in the horizontal hive
plenty of bees in the horizontal hive

In my own experience it’s rare that the bees try to sting; it’s much more commonly an accident or mishandling of the hive.

So I suppose I have my sting of 2023 out of the way now, and will be fine through the rest of the season. And like my friend reminded me today, I’ll need to bee more careful.

Pippi waiting for me to finish with the bees
Pippi waiting for me to finish with the bees

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