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Always begin your inspection of the hive by removing the first frame or wall frame. That’s the frame closest to the outer wall. Which wall? It doesn’t matter. Pick a side of the hive to work from, and that determines your first frame. Here’s how to proceed:
1. Insert the curved end of your hive tool between the first and second frames, near one end of the frame’s top bar.
2. Twist the tool to separate the frames from each other. Your hand moves toward the center of the hive — not the end.
3. Repeat this motion at the opposite end of the top bar. The first frame should now be separated from the second frame.
4. Using both hands, pick up the first frame by the end bars. Gently push any bees out of the way as you get a hold of the end bars. With the frame in both hands slowly lift it straight up and out of the hive. Be careful not to roll or crush bees as you lift the frame. Easy does it!
You should never put your fingers on a frame without first noting where the bees are, because you don’t want to crush any bees, and you don’t want to get stung. Bees can be easily and safely coaxed away by gently pushing them aside with your fingers.
Now that you’ve removed the first frame, gently rest it on the ground, leaning it vertically up against the hive. It’s okay if bees are on it. They’ll be fine. Or, if you have a frame rest (a handy accessory available at some beekeeping supply stores) use it to temporarily store the frame.
This is a basic and important first step every time you inspect a colony. The removal of this frame gives you a wide-open empty space in the hive for better manipulating the remaining frames without squashing any bees. Always be sure to remove the wall frame from the hive before attempting to remove any other frames.
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