I'm in Sudbury, and the predictions are for
deteriorating weather, with cloud and some rain. At home, the
heat is on. Thirty degrees Celsius is expected today.
With the excellent cameras available cheaply and
now that cellphones come with excellent cameras, inspecting
hives and getting expert opinions is much easier than in the
past. A thorough inspection can be just a matter of going
through the hive frame by frame, taking pictures as we go,
closing the hive, examining the pictures -- and sharing on the
Internet. If any issues are discovered, and if we did the
job properly with proper labeling, we know exactly which frames
to pull on the next visit.
Doing this job right, so that the shots are
useful is not just a matter of taking a few snapshot selfies
with frames held out front, though. You'll want clear
shots of entire comb surfaces with a clear, well-lit view into
each open cell. The job requires careful planning, a little
practice beforehand, and some careful attention to basic
Consider carefully what you will want to see
later on a large screen. You can always erase unneeded and
duplicate shots later, but you'll be sorry if you neglected
recording something that later seems important or if a bee flew
in front of the lens at a critical time. You won't have
time to look critically at each shot when shooting, so shoot
extras of each view.
Be sure to shoot at maximum resolution and do
practice shots. Learn how to control focus and exposure if the
automatic setting results in images that are variable.
That can be the case with some cameras and some cloud
conditions, so sometimes locking the settings can ensure more
consistent results. Even the simplest camera or phone has focus
and exposure settings and although the automatic setting usually
works well for me, your mileage may vary. Experiment until
you like what you see every time if you want to avoid a do-over.
Besides shooting both sides of all frames, shots
of the debris on the floor, the ground in front, flight activity
before beginning, a view into the hive before smoking and
pulling frames and other seemingly meaningless details may prove
useful later. Also, shots of piles of bees or frames covered
with bees gives you a chance to look for riding varroa and
deformed wings later at leisure without bee movement and
distractions and under magnification.
As for shooting the frames to record brood and
pollen, etc., plan exactly what you want to photograph, at what
angle, what distance, where the light will be, and how to ensure
that the contents of cells will not be shaded or out of focus.
Although many of us just hold a frame in one
hand and the camera in the other and shoot, there are tricks to
the job. A helper can be very handy since handing a beehive, a
smoker, a hive tool, a brush, and a camera at the same time is
awkward and can be hard on the camera.
A simple improvised stand to hold the frame in
position while you shoot is a good idea, but remember that the
sun moves fairy quickly across the sky and if your examination
takes long, the sun may not shine directly into the cells after
a while unless you rotate the stand a bit.
Full sun should always shine directly into the
cells when you shoot so that the entire contents are illuminated
or you won't see much when you look at the photos later. Don't
leave open brood in this position for longer than necessary,
though. Ultra violet and solar heat kills larvae, given
time. Flash may work for you, but on some cameras the
flash is offset a sufficient distance from the lens that a
shadow in cells will result. Experiment.
Honey and wax are sticky and are certain to gum
up a camera or phone, almost regardless of what you do.
cameras and cases can be washed or wiped, but others can be
damaged. The cheap waterproof cameras like the
Fujifilm FinePix XP Series Underwater Digital Cameras can be
washed under a tap and take acceptable images.
Practice on an empty box of frames and look at
your results before 'going live'. You'll see what the
potential errors are where you can improve and avoid molesting
the hive only to find your pictures are almost useless due to
errors in angle, lighting, focus, or other factors.
When you are done, upload the images and examine
critically the pictures blown up on a computer screen. You
may learn you need to adjust focus or lighting better when you
find that detail is blurred or obscured.
If the entire frame surface and cell is not in
focus, the camera was too close. Also, if the camera was
too close to the frame, maybe the camera could only see into the
middle cells and not the cells farther from the centre of the
view. You will need to increase the camera distance and
zoom, or crop the pictures later if you don't zoom. Same result
Once you are satisfied you have the technique
down pat on the dry run, it is time to inspect your hive. Pick a
warm sunny day with a light honey flow so the bees are in a
jolly mood, but have a lit smoker at hand. This will take
a while and rushing will just botch the job and make both you
and the bees unhappy.
Start with any context shots, then take frames
out one at a time, shake the bees off if necessary, and shoot
each side in order, then replace them as you go. It is a good
plan to have a series of numbered paper scraps prepared to label
each frame in turn. (Frame 1, east side, frame 1 west side,
frame 2 east side, frame 2 west side... ). Otherwise the
results can be confusing.
Although a few bees on a frame are no issue, too
many will hide the cells and later you will want to see into
them. You may have to shake bees off frames and herd them around
with your breath, a finger, or a bee brush and/or a few careful
puffs of smoke.
When you are done, upload the shots and edit
them. Keep all the originals in a folder and then
save the edited versions separately in case you find you need to
go back to the originals for some reason.
From the shots, if you did them right, you can
measure brood area, amounts of open and sealed brood, brood
pattern, amount of pollen and nectar near the brood, amount of
sealed honey, and more. You can also detect disease -- and you
can share the images, full size using Dropbox or other cloud
What can you see in a cell? To be cont'd.
Before lunch, I walked in to the detailer and drove
Mom's car home. They did a passable job, but not first class. After
lunch, Mom and I went to Walmart.
We loaded up on food and a few household items,
bought two roasted chickens and drove home for supper. I
cooked some vegetables and that was the day.