They should be made when the weather is fine, in the hottest hours and preferably in the absence of wind. Once the suit has been inserted, we can light the smoker using corrugated cardboard, natural fabric or pine bark and needles; we wear mask and gloves (the most daring can do without it). We lift the cable cover with the lever and immediately introduce a few puffs of smoke, after which we place the cable cover on the ground.
We smoke from the sides of the hive in a central direction so as to let all the bees present above the honeycombs into the nest, thus starting the extraction of the first honeycomb by breaking the wax bridges built between one honeycomb and the other with the lever.
After breaking the wax bridges between the first frames, the first honeycomb can be extracted (website photo)
The honeycombs on the extreme sides contain only honey and represent the hive's food reserve, a sort of pantry; while we place the first honeycomb on the side of the hive, proceeding with the following, we move it to the empty place of the previous one and so on. The smoker will help us in all these phases.
Each honeycomb must be carefully studied to identify:
- how much brood is present, whether it is compact or sparse
- the state of health of bees, whether or not there are dead bees, bees with frayed wings or perforated cells
- presence of real cells
The queen, followed in every movement by her procession, is generally found in the innermost combs of the hive and it is important to ensure that she is there.
Put all the frames back in the same position, reposition the first one that had been placed outside the hive and close the cover.
During the visit, several bees will hum around you, sometimes they can get nervous and buzz more intensely, but everything you do will have to happen with delicacy and patience without sudden movements.
After the visit, write down the information collected in a notebook and what you will have to do in the next visit.