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Today I help my friend Geoff build his top bar hive. Here are a few quick photos from the build.
Plywood and wood

Top bar hive follower boards

Top Bar Hive

Full Honey Frame

This is the first frame of honey that I ever removed from my hive. Special thanks to the thousands of little ladies that have made this possible. Yum!

A frame of honeybees Black Pierco plastic frames An inside look into the hive

Last weekend, the weather was perfect for doing a full inspection on my new hive. My friend Geoff accompanied me out to the bee yard to see my ladies. On the way there, we discussed our goals for this inspection because every beekeeper should know why they’re opening a hive and disrupting the colony. Each inspection should have a purpose. Our main goals for this inspection: look for signs that the queen is laying eggs, make sure the bees have enough room and check for any obvious problems.

We could see lots of activity around the hive, even from about 50M away. Bees were coming and going constantly — a good sign. We lit the smoker and got to work. This being the first full inspection for either of us, there was lots to see and be amazed at. We took each frame out and looked closely at both sides before replacing it exactly as we found it before. Geoff noticed one of the bees doing the waggle dance on the vertical surface of the comb. She was telling other workers where to go and find food or water. We also easily identified some drones by their big eyes.

Looking for eggs in the cells — a good sign that the queen is laying — was a bit difficult because the original nuc came with black Pierco plastic frames which make it difficult to hold up to the sun and identify eggs. Lucky for us though, we were able to spot the queen and watch as she found an empty cell and stuck her abdomen deep inside. There’s no better sign that your queen is laying eggs than actually seeing her do it!

There was still plenty of room for the colony to expand in this single hive body as the bees were mainly occupying about 5 and a half frames. There were also no signs of problems within the hive. We closed everything back up and then watched for a few minutes as bees came and went from the hive entrance. Successful first full inspection!

I read an article today that gave details on the photos you see below. These photos were taken by French photographer, Eric Valli, documenting the lives of the men and women who descend giant cliffs to gather honey from the Himalayan honeybee. This type of honeybee (Apis Dorsata Laboriosa) is the largest honeybee in the world and nests at altitudes between 2,500 and 3,000 m. You can see the giant size of the honeybee on the man’s face in the first photo.

If you’re at all interested in photography and find these photos as stunning as I do, you may be surprised to learn that these photos were taken in 1987! Valli received first prize for The Honey Hunters of Nepal that same year at World Press, a photojournalism contest established to create a link between professionals and the general public.

To see more photos from this series, please visit Eric Valli’s photo story on The Honey Hunters.

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Enjoying the afternoon outside and nailing together some frames. 30 down, 30 to go.