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Group hive inspection

Field Trip: A Visit to a Bee Sanctuary

We’re new to bee keeping, and while we enthusiastically raced out to buy equipment (bee suits, gloves, brush, hive tool, etc.), we have been lacking courage to open the hive and see what’s going on in there. Until a recent trip to a bee sanctuary.

Rob and Chelsea McFarland of house upwards of 15 rescued hives in the hills of Moorpark, CA. Each month, they invite newbies and fellow bee keepers to come learn how to inspect the hives. An experience not to be missed.

Rescued bee hives at Honeylove's sactuary
Rescued bee hives at Honeylove’s sactuary

The bees are situated in the center of an organic farm, so they are less likely to pick up pesticides and herbicides during their work day. The bee keepers who brought them here are an eclectic group of Backwards Beekeepers who rescue hives from city folks who don’t want them. Kirk Anderson, founder of Backwards Beekeepers, was on hand to demonstrate how to inspect a hive.

We donned our bee keeping suits and readied ourselves for the open hive experience.

Suited up for the task
Suited up for the task

Kirk’s approach was nonchalant. His theory is that bees do all the work and are pretty self-sufficient; we’re just here to help if there’s a problem. His calm demeanor soothed us nervous Nellies.

Group hive inspection
Group hive inspection

Kirk lifted frames out to show us the difference between brood comb and honey comb (brood comb is sealed with wax that is raised above the surface of the comb, honey comb is not). He identified larvae and the queen. He showed us how to feed a newer, small hive with honey from a neighboring hive. It was a very informative morning.

An open hive - missing a frame
An open hive – missing a frame

When we got home, we felt confident enough to open our own hive and see what was going on in there. Our bees were much more active than the ones we saw at the Sanctuary, but it wasn’t scary. Now we feel armed with knowledge to care for our bees.

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