Hive Check #2

All day Sunday I knew that I’d be needing to get into the hives.  Part of me was feeling rather nervous about the prospect, but I made my mental list of what needed to be done and I prepared myself mentally for the task.  Just as soon as Bodhi was taking her afternoon nap, I grabbed my bee basket and headed to the hives.

As usually, Ruby was calm and quiet when we took the lid off.  I have continued to notice that the activity around this hive is low and I was wondering what I would find when I got inside.  I was not expecting what I saw.


Very little growth in Hive Ruby.


It’s as if nothing had changed from last week.  They haven’t made any new comb to speak of.  It’s still a tiny clump of bees.   I’m very worried about this hive. I want to do something to help them along, but at this point I’m not sure what to do.  They didn’t eat from their sugar can at all, they didn’t take much food from the dish of moist sugar I gave them.  I’m considering going to the local apiary and purchasing a pollen patty for them and see what kind of feeders they have in stock.  Perhaps the beekeepers there will have some ideas and maybe a feeder that I could purchase that would work in a TBH.  I don’t want this hive to die, but I also don’t want to help a sick or weak hive limp along and start breeding less than fabulous bees.  Sigh.  This feels like having a sick kid and not knowing how to help them.


Getting into Ruby without gloves or veil.

I was very disappointed when Frank and I put Ruby’s roof back on.  I had hoped that they were recovering and making progress, but this is just not the case.  I’ll be doing some research, and polling of other beeks to see if I can come up with an answer to why they aren’t eating or growing.

Bonanza Jellybean inside the hive.

Bonanza Jellybean is growing like gangbusters.  Frank captured the above picture right after I opened the hive.  They are making a lot of comb and seem to be eating a ton.  I wish they would share their skills with their neighbors.

Beautiful comb.

The comb that Bonanza Jellybean is making is gorgeous.  They have nearly filled five bars with comb.  I didn’t look around for the queen and for some reason I didn’t look for eggs.  I think I was distracted by my worry for Ruby and I just couldn’t focus on Jellybean like I should have.

An extra bump of comb on the bar.

One of the bars had an extra bump of comb on it.  I’m not quite sure why the girls did this, but I used my long knife and sliced it off.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was easy to remove and the bees didn’t seem to mind too much that I had taken part of their comb from them.

Looking at the comb.

The bees weren’t interested in leaving the piece of comb that I cut off, so I gently placed it on the ground under the hive.  Then I panicked.  What if the queen was on there?  I didn’t even think to look for her there.  So I picked up the comb and looked for the queen.  I didn’t find her and was relieved.  I tried brushing the bees off of the comb, but they didn’t want to move so I put it in grass farther from the hive.  Eventually, they would leave it I assumed.

They did end up leaving it and now I have a lovely small bit of soft comb in the house.  I don’t know what to do with it exactly.  Frank wants to eat it.  I think for now I just want to have it.  It’s given me a lot to think about and learn.  The bees are amazing builders and I’m so very proud of what they are accomplishing.


What I learned from this hive check.

  • It’s better to walk away when you get stressed than do something stupid because you are stressed.
  • Things don’t always go they way you think they will even if you are doing everything you should be doing.

That’s about all I gleaned from this trip into the hives.  I’m feeling a bit glum for Ruby and hope to find some ways to bolster that hive up and grow it into a bustling robust hive.





18 Comments on “Hive Check #2”

  1. I sure hope Ruby comes back. Your doing great and I love seeing how confident you are with your bees!

  2. Sending you health hive vibes for Ruby.

    Eat that comb!

  3. littlewool says:

    I am enjoying reading about your experience with bees.
    One day I would like to try it out…for now I will read about you and yours.
    Sorry about Ruby.

  4. Jenn says:

    Wish I had some advice to offer, but, I have none. It does make you wonder why Ruby isn’t thriving. Is it location? I hope you are able to quickly figure out the answer!

    • Thanks Jenn. I went out today and checked on them and they are looking like they are doing better. I did switch out their dry sugar for a soupy sugar mixture and floated some straw on top so they don’t drown. Hopefully, this will be easier for them to ingest.

  5. Sam says:

    OK one type of feeder you could put on the bottom is a “baggy” type, take a ziplock bag fill 1/2 full with 50:50 sugar water mix (pre-mix untill clear) then place inside the hive under the cluster and slice a small slit with a razor in the top, the bees can drink from that slit, kind of hard to refill though, another thing is filling a shallow food container with sugar water then putting debris in it to allow the bees a place to stand when drinking the debris should cover the top but still allow the bees to get at the feed, wood shaving (the kind you buy for hamsters) work well.

    • Sam says:

      Use pure white sugar for feed, it should be a pure as possible.

    • Thanks Sam. I’m using a couple of methods at the moment and seeing which one I like best. The bag seemed to feed the bees quite well, but I had some deaths. This week, one hive has dry sugar that I sprayed down with lemon grass water and the other has a 1:1 sugar syrup that I put some clean straw on the top. We’ll see which one does better this week.

  6. that comb is fantastic! i don’t follow beekeeping at all, so it amazed me that this is the process- thanks for sharing! hope ruby hive starts looking up.

    • It really is fantastic isn’t it? This is my first year beekeeping and I’m just amazed by the bees. Ruby does seem to be doing a bit better thankfully. We’ll see how she is in a couple of days.

  7. I always tell myself to just let the bees be bees. They know more about what they are doing than I do, and I’m probably just making them nervous by worrying about them!! 🙂

    • You are so right Deborah. As this is new, I’m a little nervous about killing my bees. I don’t want to mother hen them either. Like with children, I suppose, I’ll need to learn the delicate balance of doing just enough for them, but not too much.

  8. I am fascinated by your hives. I love bees (despite my not liking honey) and I think what you’re doing is so cool.

    • Thank you. I plan on sharing the entire story about the bees, I’m sure there is more to share.

      Not like honey? I’ve never heard of such a thing. 🙂 Bees are just about the coolest pet I’ve ever had. Before bees, it was chickens.

      • I know, I’m the only person I know who doesn’t like honey.

        I’ve heard a lot of people say that chickens make great pets. The silkies are my favorites because they look like they’re wearing bloomers.

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