Adventures in Beekeeping: Installation and First Inspection

We installed a 3lb package of ~10,000 bees on 4-8-2017 into a 10 frame deep hive we purchased from a commercial beekeeper in Middletown, Delaware. The comb was already built out in every frame, which gave us anxiety about American Foul Brood and varroa mite leftovers. My dealer assured me the comb was fine and to just dump my new bees in, no problem. On the plus side, the old brood comb should make establishment easier for the new colony.

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Installation: 4-8-2017

Our only fail was with the queen cage; I put it candy-plug side down. This can be an issue when nurse bees accompany the queen, who could suddenly die and block the candy plug hole which would trap the queen. Fortunately, our cage didn’t have a nurse bee, so the anxiety around our plug-down mistake was a non-issue. Otherwise, the installation was super quick and a total rush! We gained a ton of confidence by attending the CHESCO Beekeeping conference this Spring in West Chester, Pennsylvania. We also have a few local mentors and I’m constantly texting Chris from Tesla Bee Supplies, where we purchased the package. The bees actually came from Oreland, CA, then arrived at the Wilkes Bare, Pennsylvania Mann Lake dealer where Chris picked them up and distributed. I’ve heard negative things about Mann Lake bees, but fingers crossed, ours are doing ok at least after a week.

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Our bees two days after installation

First Inspection: 4-14-2017

We went in with a plan; ensure the queen has been uncaged, find her, check for eggs, remove the queen cage and add a gallon of syrup. Apparently you must use syrup, not sugar-water. There’s a difference? The ratio we used was 1:1, water to store-bought sugar. We just picked up a one lb. bag from Food Lion. Krissy and I both got suited up. I managed to snag a full XXL beekeeping suit with veil on Craigslist for $35. Score! My veil came from Forest Hill Woodworking near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

We settled on this hive inspection checklist from littlehouseonthebighill.com. I should also mention that the Beekeeping Techniques Facebook group was super helpful. Most nights I’d be reading posts before bed, trying to learn from others mistakes.

Here’s a little video documenting our first inspection. We’re super goofy about finding the queen right away, ha.

Final observations:

Found the queen right away, but we need to ensure she’s laying. I’ll give it another 5 days or so and go in to look for eggs. They took a whole gallon today after I’d initially topped off the internal feeder 6 days ago, but I’m curious how long we’ll need to feed. Apparently it’ll be obvious when they’re done with the syrup. The other thing, I found some ants roaming around, we’ll see how that plays out. Oh and our mentor suggested adding popsicle sticks below the commuter-style top to provide more ventilation. They didn’t make any effort to seal the top because of this 1/4″ gap. A telescopic cover is in the works with these plans from michiganbees.org,

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My partners in crime catching some afternoon shade
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