Since our back yard is so very tiny, and since our bees are so vigorous, I've been looking for people who will let me keep bees on their property. I would do all the work, and we'd split the honey.
I wanted to harvest some honey from our own hives, to give to our bee "landlords." But of course, nothing is simple.
When I opened up the Magnolia hive, I saw lots of honeycomb. But every comb of honey also have developing bees as well. I didn't want to damage the young brood, so I wasn't able to harvest any of this honey.
Seeing brood squished in with honey, lead me to believe that this particular hive was a bit over-crowded. I added another box on top of this hive, and did a bit of house-keeping.
We let our bees build their own comb. However, doing so means that we risk allowing the bees to build crazy cross-frame comb. When the honeycomb is attached to two different frames, it means that there will be significant destruction when the beekeeper moves the frames around. Comb gets ripped apart.
When this happened today, we did a little low-tech repair, and rubber banded the ripped-out comb into an empty wooden frame. In the next few days, the bees will remove any fatally damaged brood. They will knit this honeycomb into the frame, and soon, everything will be nice and stable.
You can see the how the stress of handling this comb ripped the capped brood cells.
You can also see an uncapped "queen cell" at the bottom of the frame. The bees seem to build these as a sort of insurance, just in case they need to make a new queen for the colony.
While I'm sad that I wasn't able to harvest honey today, I'm very pleased that I got into this hive before things got too chaotic or over-crowded. I was able to give the bees a bit more room in their hive, and only got stung once for my troubles.