Saturday, November 21, 2009

As the temperature outside drops below 50 degrees bees stop flying and
gather in the hive forming a cluster. This cluster of bees keeps warm
by shivering. The queen is in the center where the temperature is
about 80 degrees. The workers bees rotate from the outside (48
degrees) of the cluster in to keep any bees from getting to cold for
to long. The colder it gets the tighter the cluster becomes.

Bees can starve with food just inches away if it gets to cold out, but
here in the south that usually wouldn't happen. The shivering uses a
lot of stores and they could run short if the winter was long and

I tucked the hives in for the winter today to help keep the
cluster loose and reserve stores. I put a bee cozy on the hive. It's
a black insulated well, cozy.

Last years post on moisture and winter

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Beeswax is much harder to work with than paraffin. Pouring temp and wick size is very important to get the candle to burn correctly and set without any cracks.

I plan on making about 60 candles this year to sell and give as presents.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Atlanta Progressive Preschool bee talk

Click on pictures to get full view.

Talking about swarming, queens and pollination.
Golden frame of honey that we will crush and strain.

Smelling a block of pure bees wax.

Making rolled wax candles.

Trying on the bee veil.

Crushing the honey comb.

Lots of crushing.
Click on pictures to get full view.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DHS Sept 13 inspection

John and I did a inspection and had some visors. Bruce from the DHS garden committee, a Girl and her tractor (she graded the DHS garden lot) and two of John's co-workers come out to see the bees. The bottom deep is full of a nice brood pattern, the second box a medium is mostly brood with some stores in the outer frames and the top box is full but still need to be 50% capped. The top box also had some brood in it and they were light on pollen for that much brood I thought.

Today I put on a medium with 5 frames mostly filled with pollen and 5 frames of drawn out empty comb. I'm feeding at least twice a week and hope to have them fill out the top box to have adequate winter stores.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Last month in the e-flier from Brushy Mountain bee was this article.

Certainly, there are areas that are doing better, but for the most part it’s the same story. The reason I mention this is not to express my disappointment in the honey crop, but rather to warn of insufficient reserves in the hives. Right now I am feeding because they don't have, nor can they make, enough honey to sustain the colony, let alone get it through winter. Nutrition is one of the most under-recognized factors in colony health. Be sure your bees are not hungry bees.

  1. At this time of year, when you begin feeding the bees, the syrup should be the heavy 2:1 mix – two parts sugar to one part water. (Editor’s note: This mix is difficult to mix and will require heating. Use a large Dutch oven or similar stainless steel pot. All of the sugar and water can be put into the pot at the same time and then heated, stirring frequently, until the mixture is clear, indicating that all the sugar has dissolved. You will have virtually identical results if your measurements are based on weight or volume. In other words: Five pounds sugar and two and one-half pounds of water for a total weight of seven and one-half pounds. Two and one-half pounds of water is 5 cups.) Eight cups of sugar four cups of water.)
Because of the rain during the nectar flow for the 3 year in a row not much extra honey was to be had. The two years prior we had sever drought. Too much rain during the flow is like a drought in reverse. Nectar is washed out of the flower or highly diluted.

Feeding can be tricky. I have tried the boardman feeder that comes with the beginners kit. The problem with these is if it during a dearth, when you would feed, it invites robbing. The frame feeder is better since it is in the hive and doesn't invite robbing and it holds more syrup, but LOTS of bees drown in these and you must go into the hive to fill and check.

By far the best option that I have found is by bee works. It holds 2 quarts and if used on a inner cover with out other holes you don't even have to suit up to fill it. I found that if you use a inner cover with other holes that don't have hardware cloth that they will push up the lid and then you have dead bees. Today I switched the inner cover with one that is screened except for a bar that runs across the middles with a bee escape hole. Perfect! Ventilation without having to suit up to fill or dead bees.sres have bargains on su

Demeter and the fume board.

Last week I treated Demeter for mites and put the fume board on upside down! I realized it after looking at John's blog w/ pictures of his treatment. I will do another count and see where we are w/ the mite numbers. Maybe it was enough to knock them down anyways.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

rising mite count on Demeter

Demeter is hitting the UGA suggest threshold of 60 mites in 24hours. Last year I did a formic acid treatment by Robert Noles. I'm going to first try the thyme oil on the paper towel treatment, but if that doesn't do the trick then I will perform the formic acid treatment again.

I will put in a sticky board on the CSX/DHS hive tomorrow and see how they are doing.

From the artical Results of Research: Using Essential Oils for Honey Bee Mite Control
We have found that colonies, heavily infested with varroa mites in August, September and October, probably can not be saved.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Packed smoker

Today was a very defeating day with the hot hive, but on the upside I think I have my smoker down. I use burlap bag scrapes as my fuel. It lights easily and give a nice cool smoke. Usually it runs out of smoke when I really need it so today I tried the stuffing technique I saw at UGA's young harris. Bill Ownes really packed and squeezed the bellows. His fuel of choice is pines straw and I bet that he put in a couple of pounds of needles in his industrial size smoker. He said that it would last all day and could sit used for several hours and not go out. I was doubtful. Today I light the first piece stuck it in the smoker, kind of pushing it towards the bellows to let the air flow and its was flaming. In goes the second piece followed by the same process of pumping air through. I usually stop here. It mostly fills my smoker and seems like another piece would snuff it out. Not wanting to run out during my work on the hot hive I put it in anyways and hope for the best. I didn't last long with the hot bees, but my smoker last hours and was hardly ever used.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

CSX at the DHS

I checked out the hive today. Just went into the top box and it was just as I remembered. All the comb is filled out and full of nectar, but only about 30% is capped. I did fill the feeder, but think either I will hold off on feeding for a couple of weeks or add another box. I also put some quarters under the inner cover till we can get a cover with some holes on it.

They were so nice, I went though every top frame and didn't even use sugar water to keep them happy. Not one sting

Friday, July 24, 2009

DHS garden bees cont...

My plan for the DHS garden hive was to split a hive that I got this year as a nuc. When I checked two weeks ago the hive was strong enough to split and I wanted to re-queen it as well since the bees weren't the most enjoyable to work. Things didn't go as planed at all.

First, Wednesday, when John and I went through the hive it wasn't as full as it had been, but we proceeded. This was mistake number one. We looked and looked for the queen. We just couldn't find her and didn't see eggs, but did find larvae, capped brood and plenty of pollen and honey. We took the split over to the DHS garden and waited for the queens to arrive on Thursday.

When the package got here Thursday one of the queens didn't make it. Bummer. I went though the hive here again to see if I could find the old queen and just couldn't see her or really much in the way of larvae or brood. Now it was time to make a decision. The hive here couldn't survive like we left it. We should have gone deeper into the hive to make sure they had plenty of brood, but since they are so aggressive we didn't look all the way like we should have. That was mistake number two.

My husband and I went and picked up the split and put it back with the other bees from the original hive and then took the CSX swarm to the garden. I really like this hive and hope they will be happy at their new home. I didn't want to chance that we missed the queen and that she was at the garden. Lots of non bee people will come into contact with them and gentle is what is needed.

Today I went back through the hive looking for the old queen. I really want to replace her. I looked and looked over the frames that had brood. No queen was to be found. No eggs were to be found. A queen was present at least with in the last week from the size of the small larvae, but I also found lots of emergency cells and a few incomplete swarm cells. The queen that did make it needed a home. So after a hour of looking and looking I put her in the hive. Hopefully if the old queen is still present the new queen will win the fight. If not I just spent $70.00 for nothing. My bee confidence has been shaken.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

DHS garden

A senior at Decatur High School had the idea to start a community garden on a unused corner of land that the school owned at the corner of Commerce and E Howard. Here is a nice article about this inspiring young lady.

My friend John and I are partnering to put in and maintain a hive at the garden. We also hope to have a chance to do some educational sessions about bees, pollination and honey.

John has already put in the hive stand, work table and water station.

I have ordered two queens from purvis brothers and we are going to do a split from a hive of mine (Luna) that started as a nuc this year. This hive has done well, but the bees are hotter (aggressive) then I would like, especially for the garden, so I will take 1/2 the brood and bees with one of the new queens and put it at the garden. I'm also going to find the queen that is in the hive now and replace her with a new queen. Honey production is important, but enjoyable beekeeping is just as important.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Propolis and bee excluder

I really don't know much about propolis, except why they make it and what its used for. I don't know really what it is and why they are making so much this time of year. It seems to be a reddish color and everywhere. With the heat it's very sticky like chewing gum.

I believe that Demeter is ready to have the medium of honey pulled off so I put in a bee excluder between the two deeps and the medium. The bees can go back down into the deeps, but can't re-enter the medium. Hopefully I can just go pull the whole medium off and it be bee free tomorrow a.m.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chunk honey

The 2 frames of honey I pull the other day had such a pretty white capping that I thought I would bottle it as chunk honey. Watching Linda's video on chunk honey was helpful. I think my finished product is quite nice.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

TBH woes

Yesterday I did a little inspection and pulled any frames that were fully capped to extract and give them some more room. I think it's to late in the flow to add new boxes so I will just pull frames as they are finished.

The TBH I believe has a laying queen. Very little brood was spotted and it was all drone brood. I cut out two pieces of brood frame w/ eggs from the CSX swarm and Luna and put it in the TBH to see if they will raise a new queen.

The CSX hive has fully drawn out and filled the Deep they were put in, but isn't touching the medium I put on top a couple of weeks ago.

Luna is busting at the seems w/ two deeps full of brood and about 40% of the medium drawn out and filled w/ nectar.

Demeter is my strongest hive w/ two deeps full of brood and the medium on top 80% capped.

Edited: It just occurred to me while looking at these pictures that I didn't put the comb in w/ the the cells slanting up. Damn, I just can't get a colony to flourish is this hive

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

UGA honey bee program at Young Harris College

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get to attend the annual Beekeeping Institute at Young Harris College. The college is located in the beautiful blue ridge mountains of North Georgia.

I believe my favorite topic was beekeeping in Brittan by Keith Fielder. He spoke with such enthusiasm about the rich traditions of beekeeping that have been passed down for generations. He showed us lots of wonderful slides of the vegetation, castle walls with skep holes, and the local corner markets that are common instead of the one stop shopping were used to. Here in the US it is said ask 10 beekeepers a question and get 11 answers. Apparently in Brittan if you don't follow protocol your shunned in the bee community.

I think the scariest thing I learned was in Gregg Hunt's lecture, Honey Bee Defense Behavior. He has spent the last 15 years in studying in Mexico the African bee that all of us are hoping to not encounter. The pictures were breath taking of the rolling green hills and ruins, but the pictures of gloves covered, and I do mean covered with stingers were enough to make you rethink beekeeping. They have been know to kill horses and other livestock as well as people. Atlanta is right on the boarder of where they think they will stop.

While I was at YH I took a written and practical test and passed so now I'm a certified beekeeper. Next year maybe I will try for the journeyman's level.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lots of building this week temp 77-60 cloudy

I noticed quite a bit of comb building finally happening this week.

The CSX swarm has drawn out about 90% of the deep. Larvae and worker brood were present. Added a medium with 5 starter strips, 4 popsicle sticks and one frame from Demeter that was mostly drawn out and had nectar in it. I find it really helps get them going in a new box to bait them. I'm feeding them, but they don't really seem very interested.

Luna is still only about 25% done drawing out the medium,on top of a single deep, so I will continue to watch for now. Worker brood spotted.

Demeter is almost done drawing out the medium on top of two deeps. So I know I will at least get some honey this year! I hope I will need to add another medium at the end of next week.

The TBH has drawn out the starter stip and extended downward with it about another 1.5inches but doesn't seen to want to start another row w/ the popsicle stick starters. I might have to put in another starter strip, but really think if she hasn't starter to lay yet they are doomed anyways. I hate to loose them but wanted to know what they could do w/o intervention. I do have sugar syrup out but they aren't taking it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New hive stand and mite count

Yesterday I finally had a chance to put some cinder blocks and 4X8's in the bee yard and get the hives off the tables I have been using. They needed to be closer to each other and still be able to let the mites fall far enough down to not re-invade the hive.

While I was at it I did a mite count and found about 25 mites in Demeter and 12 in Luna.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CSX swarm

Today I did a quick check to see how things were going in this hive and I saw eggs! I hope the workers hold in there till more brood hatches.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Luna update

I'm not sure if the queen I put in or if one of the queens that hatched out of the swarm cells is laying, but I only pulled one frame and it was half full of larvae so I closed her back up and added another medium. It seems like baiting up really helps. I pulled a frame of nectar out of the existing medium and switched it for one of the new frames in the box going on top.

Second swarm

Monday I received another call for a swarm pick up. It just happened to be about 1/4 mile from my work, so I grabbed a box from out back and went to the house w/ the swarm. It is a small swarm, about 1.5 grapefruits worth. Maybe 2lbs.

They were attached to this magnolia branch. I held the box up to them, sniped and off I went after about 15 mins to let the stragglers join them.

I put them in the Top Bar Hive and they honestly just don't seem to be to happy w/ this new home. I have a ball of them that keep hanging on the screened underside and they aren't making any comb even after I gave them a foundation starter strip. I need to put together some more equipment and see if they would be happier in the nuc for a while.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

First swarm caught today

I was called today by Cindy Bee of Metro bee club to go get a swarm. The swarm was at the CSX train station. The swarming bees had caused quite the excitement there. 4 toll booth like stations with a poles on either side to keep the trucks from getting to close to the booths are located at the entrance. They clung to one of the poles and even started to build comb!

I had to work today, so they had to stay in the nuc till I could get home and installed them in a 10 frame deep.

They had build two rows of comb on the inner cover and were working the two frames of comb that I had put in the nuc for them.

Wish I had taken my camera. It was so exciting and they seem to have settled in their new home. I'm feeding even thou the flow is stating here.

They seem like calm happy bees.

Edited: Thank you to Miss Robin at the CSX station for sending me these pictures!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

4/14/2009 inspection

Demeter is going full strength. The bottom brood chamber that was empty, I reversed a couple of weeks ago and now it is full of stores and brood! I put on a empty medium with some starter strips and popsicle sticks to give them some room to move up. Hope I don't have to bait them up since I'm in shortage of medium drawn out comb.

I'm not so sure about Luna. I did see one frame with some larvae in it, I didn't see the queen. I hope when I check in another couple of days to see more brood. They weren't moving up into the second box so I pulled a frame of stores from the bottom box and put it in the top box to entice them up.

Got stung twice on my ankle. That makes 5 time this year. Think I will put up a counter for stings.

Swarm catching kit from Cindy Bee

*A regular hive body with screened bottom board, inner cover and top cover.
*Ratchet strap for hauling (do NOT use bungie cords, they slip)
*spray bottle for sugar water
*scoop - milk carton works well and you can cut it so it has a handle
*white sheet or pillow case - don't use a nappie towel
*piece of cut foam (such as comes from a cushion) to block the entrance way
*clippers (be sure to ask before cutting anyone's shrubs or tree limbs)
*cardboard box (in case you can't handle a full hive body set up) with brood chamber-sized foundation and frames - a box that computer paper comes in works well. Cut an upside down horse shoe-shaped hole where the side meets the bottom and let this flap be the ramp they can march into.
*lemmon pledge as an option - place a small dab on your finger and run it along the inside of the box just above the flap you've made.
*a bee brush
*of course, your veil
Note: don't smoke a swarm. It won't do much except upset them and cause them to fly around. Just scoop or shake them into the box and place the sheet at the entranceway so they can march in. The first several scoops should go into the box with the lid off. Then replace the lid and let the rest march in after you've shown them the entrance way. For a while they'll want to keep collecting at the old site where they last smelled the queen. Be patient and keep gathering them and releasing at the entranceway. Wait about 35-40 min. or longer if you have the time so as many as possible will go in. You'll never get them all unless you leave the box and retrieve it after dark.
Ratchet your hive together tightly, block the entranceway with the foam and let the homeowners know what to expect ( a small fist-size returning clump that will hang for a few days or return to the parent hive). If the homeowner asks if it costs anything you might ask for gas money or a contribution to the Metro At. Beekeepers' Assoc. (We are a 501c3 organization so their contribution is tax deductible).
Hope that helps,

Grant park swarm

Last week I put myself on the swarm list at my bee club. On Friday I got the call that there was a large swarm of bees in grant park. The sky was getting dark w/ the storm moving in so I knew I needed to move fast before they moved. I went over my supplies with Cindy Bee, who coordinates the swarm list, had to make some adjustments. Got dressed and load up my jeep. Chloe, my daughter, got suited up to take pictures and we drove the short drive to the park w/ my heart pounding. They were gone when we got there. Bummer!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A queen for a queen...

Today was nice weather, so I couldn't stand it any longer and had to see what was going on. The queen has been released and I even saw her when I was changing position of a frame that wasn't in Housel position. The nuc that they were transfered out of was holding the one frame I needed to remove to put in the queen cage in the 10 frame.

Usually when bees are installed you leave the package or nuc box sitting near and they join their hive with in hours. The last two days I kept seeing bees in the nuc, so I thought it was just them eating the nectar that the nuc frame had. Today I took a good look at the bees in the nuc and low and behold was a unmarked queen. I knew something had to be keeping them there.

The supplier told me that the nuc came w/ a marked mated queen. I'm not sure if that was the case. It seems to me they came w/ two queen cells, I put the unmarked queen in a package cage with some attendant bees and some honey. Not sure what to do w/ her. She didn't look to be in great shape. Slow moving kind of out of it. Maybe she lost the fight of the two queen cells, maybe she won, but was hurt anyways. Maybe, just maybe the supplier was right and the marked queen took off and left the virgin queen.

Since I belive that they have eccepted the new queen I think I will make swarm lure out of her.*

* Swarm lure made from unwanted queens... This method came from Dee Lusby and was developed from an idea of Butler.

Dee's method... is to take unwanted queens, not old ones that are about to expire, but viable young or virgin specimens and steep them in a jar of alcohol. Dee comments "The alcohol really takes on a good color if left for years with queens submerged within. Also, we get more scouting bees with virgin queen lure and more drones in swarms that are eventually hived."

To use this "ticture of virgin queen" as a lure, it is dabbed on woodwork of bait hives... Three or four drops from an eye dropper when the bait hive is made up and a few more drops after six weeks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cold temps in April

It was a high of 47 today and Demeter was still doing quite a bit of flying. Luna was quite. Hope all is well.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bee buddies and Luna's new queen

Last year when I went to Lula, Ga for a organic beekeeping class and picked up 2 packages of bees and I met John. John has been such a help to me, he is a new beekeeper as well, but always has time to talk over the situation, lend me equipment when needed and keep me on track as to treatments. We have different styles that complement each other, I'm a little to let nature do its thing side and he's very much what should we be doing now kind of guy

Yesterday he drove to Lula and got new queens for himself and I. He also gave me a super deluxe hive tool, a cool red light to check the bees out in the dark (bees don't see red). Some wedges to help hold the queen cage in place and some new nitrile gloves.

I came home and installed the queen in Luna in not the most favorable conditions. It had been overcast and raining on and off. Got stung once on the leg through my jeans and once on the stomach through my shirt. The sting on my leg wasn't bad but my stomach is still swollen, red and angry. I didn't get the tight throat feeling, but did get extremely itchy hands and feet. Took a benadryl which helped greatly. I also moved them to a 10 frame deep and I'm preparing a Medium to go on top of the deep ASAP.

Hope putting in a new queen was the right move, but in reality I like the calmer bees that this new queen will produce. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Luna could have swarmed

I spoke to the supplier today and he said he thinks that my nuc swarmed. I don't think so from the number of bees in the hive, but could be totally wrong.

This partly happened because I put them into a deep nuc and then put the medium on top with foundation. I'm trying to go to all mediums, so that is why I didn't have a 10 frame deep laying around. The second factor is all the rain and cold weather here has prevented me from looking and managing them in a preventative manner. UGH! No flow for this hive this year. Dirty words!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More bottom box!

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Bottom box finds and lack of findings

When I went into the bottom box I expected to find some sign of the queen laying, but all I found was empty brood cells, a couple of queen cells and some stores of honey.

At least two of the queen cells produced queens. Not sure if that is where my queen came from and if she was a virgin queen so that is why I'm not seeing any signs of laying?

I have a call into the supplier to see what his advise is.

The hive seemed calm so I'm just not sure. If they were really hot I would KNOW that the queen didn't make it.
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When I went to check on the bees I found a nice sized clump of bees hanging out on the front porch. They must have been hot so I removed the makeshift reducer I had in. After the inspection and removal of the reducer they moved back into the hive.

When checking on the new medium box I had added last week when the weather broke I was pleased to see that they are drawing out comb.
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reversing brood boxes and adding room to the nuc

I reversed the brood boxes in Demeter so the queen, hopefully in theory, will move up into the empty box and start laying brood in the drawn out empty frames.

I also added a box with half strips of foundation on the top of Luna to give her some room to kick it in for spring.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Story to follow....

This tree is on my in laws property an hour south of me in Griffin. My father in law call and said that he had found a tree with bees living in it while mowing.

I'm not sure how long the hive has been in the tree or how big the cavity is. It was chilly on Friday when I went to assess the situation. There was some bring in of pollen even with the chilly weather.

I set up a medium hive body with some starter strips and smeared the hive body with the lemon and olive oil mixture I had made last year. A second medium went on top so I could put in a feeder w/ syrup and honey b healthy. I didn't have
spare top cover so I used a piece of plywood w/ some rocks. It has rained since I put out the hive on Friday and it is supposed to clear out tonight and be really nice over the next couple of days so I hope they will take interest and decide to upgrade to my hive or run out of room and swarm into it.

If you click on the pictures you can see up close how many bees are in that tree.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Todays findings

I forgot to check the sticky board for a couple 3 days and it had really good numbers on the mites! After 3 days I had probably 25-30 mites.

Luna is finishing off a pint on it second day and Demeter is still just kinda taking the syrup.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This hive will be named Luna

It was a full moon last night so we are going to call this hive Luna.

My friend Britt painted a box for me.
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New nuc

Yesterday when I was called to pick up my nuc I was a little surprised that it was already time. Last year I didn't get to get my package till mid April.

The Nuc was 'boiling over' with bees, three frames of worker brood and some pollen and a small amount of honey.

I put a entrance feeder on and they have already taken about 2" worth of syrup with honey b healthy in it.

I did make a beginners mistake on not letting them settle after I got home before removing the screened entrance blocker. Only got it once on the arm.

Milk paint is my paint of choice. It has such nice colors to it and no fumes at all.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March inspection cont...

The bottom box was empty except two frames of worker brood and quite a bit of pollen. Had the bottom box been completely empty I would have reversed the boxes to give the queen room to move up and lay. One small hive beetle was all that was seen. No queen cells. Started a 24 hour mite count that I will check in a couple of hours and put in a quart of sugar syrup with honey b healthy in it.
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March hive inspection

The weather is in the 70's this week after last weeks snow fall. In the top box they still have some capped honey. Some pollen and quite a bit of drone brood and a small amount of worker brood.
Below is a empty emergency cell that they started and didn't use. All the different colors in the surrounding cells is stored pollen.
The bullet shaped cells are the drone cells. Above them the flat capped cells are worker cells and if you look closely you can see uncapped larvae mixed in w/ the capped worker brood. Eggs were not spotted during the whole inspection.
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