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Sharon Kitchens

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse. In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more. Sharon can be contacted at or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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The Root with Sharon Kitchens
Posted: May 27, 2014

Backyard Beekeeping Photo Gallery

Hello all. Well, I’m making good on last week’s promise to post about the most recent inspection of the beehives in my backyard. Hope you find it was worth the wait! My mentor “J” (he likes his privacy) and I found a sunny morning to open up the colonies.

Before we dig into the photos, a few tips:

  • Keep records of every inspection of a colony – “J” provides hive inspection cards that are easy to fill in with columns for adding/subtracting boxes, temperament, queen (seen, marked), laying pattern (e.g. solid uniform, poor spotty…), eggs present, larvae/brood, drones (low, average, high), queen cells/cups, disease/treat, pests/treat, frame configuration, and comments.
  • In addition to the cards, I keep a notebook which details what’s in bloom, the weather (rainy!), and my to do list (feed, purchase frames…).
  • Opening a colony – If you are a new beekeeper keep this in mind – in the spring your bees should be calm and in the fall fussy – aka don’t mess with me lady! Seriously, make sure you’ve got everything assembled near the hives that you will need for an inspection. The first few times I did inspections I was (a) super grateful the barn with equipment was so close to the hives (b) kept promising myself I would remember everything the next time and prepared more thoughtfully in advance of inspections.
  • Here’s a new one, but important if you are expanding to more than three hives. Drifting, just learned about this over the weekend. If you have more than three colonies in a row foragers can get confused returning to the hive so move some around.
  • Memorize the number to The Honey Exchange, or better yet – and easier – just make sure it’s plugged into your phone and have said phone on your person in case (a) anything goes wrong e.g. someone realizes they are allergic to bees – yikes! (b) more realistic – you need to order more supplies – most of my calls to Phil (the shop’s owner) come from the field during the winding down of an inspection. Here’s the number. (207) 773-9333.
  • Make sure your smoker is working!!

Okay, ready to go…

start with a hive kit

J’s hive kit.

then smoke

We’re smoking! Note, use sparingly – two or three light puffs to calm the bees  – that’s all.

one two

I included the above shots to give you an idea of what a hive looks like when making your way through the boxes. Notice how many more bees are present as we got deeper into the colony (hive).

four bees on ladder

Bees in the hive, some “hanging out” on a ladder (what the bees build/use to get from one box to the next).

five frame of brood six another look at a frame of brood

A couple images to give you an idea of what a frame of brood looks like (note, one is fuller than the other) – pattern is nice!

seven j holding a frame cool look seven again j holding another frame

A couple of  “J” holding frames. He, like most experienced beekeepers I have met, does not use gloves when working hives. He needs/wants to feel everything.

eight arent they gorgeous

I will never tire of the beauty and behavior of bees. They are truly the most exceptional creatures.

nine splitting a hive

Splitting a hive to prevent a swarm. To learn more check out this site.  *Before the split, the hive had around 40,000 bees in it. The colony will be back up to that number by summer’s end.

ten see the queen

See the queen!? She’s the one with the white dot on her back – marked her last year to keep track of her.

eleven look at all that honey

Wow, look at the bees on the frame of capped honey.

twelve all spread out

Thanks for sticking with me! Hope you enjoyed me sharing this with you!

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