Bees are fairly self-sufficient once they have their hive firmly established and they start brooding. Until then, they need some checking up on. This weekend, about three weeks after starting our hives, we did a proper hive inspection. Because we are using top bar hives, this is fairly easy - we just removed the top of each hive, pulled a couple of the top bars, and took a look at the comb structure. We also used a smoker to help clear the bees aside so that we could get a proper look at the interior space, but no other specialized gear beyond our veils.
If you didn't already know, a smoker works by signalling to the bees that a fire is nearby. They will swarm to the hive opening and beat their wings in a specific way to impact the oxygen flow through the hive and help keep the fire outside.
The two hives have had very different character from the start, and their work of setting up their hives is also different. One of the hives looks to have a robust infrstructure and what looks like honey forming already. They are not exactly building across the top bars like they should, and we had to break up some of the comb.
The other hive took our gentle direction to not build in the feeder. While it looks like they are building more slowly, they also appear to be building in a more orderly fashion.
The other problem we saw - and this is with both hives - is ants. Not sure what to do about that, though.
While we had the hives open, we cleaned up some of the inevitable die-off and gave both hives some more home-made sugar syrup. Both hives seem to be doing well so far. They should be reproducing in the next couple of weeks.