It is always fun for me to be able to share my beekeeping experiences with people. During this inspection I had a friend of mine along to help. I also enjoy teaching "newbees" all about the different miracles in the hive. This inspection allowed me a lot of opportunities to do so!
We saw pollen, nectar, capped honey, open brood, capped brood, drone brood, hatching baby bees, queen cups and the queen! I'm not sure what else there would be in a hive that I would even want to show someone. It is really hard to see eggs and I don't care to show someone Varroa mites!
I've come to realize that people judge the strength of their hive by how many frames the bees are actually covering. So I made sure to take note of this. As of last inspection, I knew the queen was in the top honey super after the long, cold winter and there was plenty of brood there. I was hoping all the brood had hatched out (new egg to hatching = 21 days) and the queen had moved down into the bottom two brood boxes. Well, I had half of it correct. She has moved down and been laying in the bottom boxes but she must have also laid a few more eggs in the honey super as well. Here is a really weird brood pattern because of this:
Not only is there uncapped nectar and pollen scattered around, but there are little pockets of brood here and there and a few drone cells along the bottom edge toward the right. I was hoping all the brood would be out of there so I can use these frames for honey later in the year. I could use this frame as a part of the split I plan to do in the next week or so.
One of the greatest things in the hive to witness is a new bee being "born" or emerging from its cell for the first time. Watching them poke out and move their antennae around is amazing! Look right in the center patch of capped brood and you can see two little heads poking through and looking around!
The bees were only covering about 5 / 10 frames in the top box and most of the empty frames hadn't really been built out much. So, onto the next box!
It took me a while to figure out how to get the first frame out without squashing a bunch of bees, but with a little smoke and hive tool manipulation, I was able to get it started. On this frame I was very pleased to see a SOLID patch of open brood. You can see right along the center of the photo a whole bunch of pearly white glistening larvae! Nice!
I would suspect the queen is probably actively laying eggs somewhere in this box. I was really hoping to spot her too so that I could show my friend the queen in all her glory. On the very next frame I pulled out, there she was!
Can you spot her? No?
How about now?
At this point in the inspection I decided not to go through every frame in the box. And I decided not to go into the very bottom box either. I had seen and shown all the really important things and the inspections always take longer than you'd like to think. The bees were probably covering 8 / 10 hives so that box was pretty strong. I closed the hive up and called it a day.
I was happy to see that the queen was strongly laying in the lower box and that there were a few drone cells dotting the bottom of some frames. I did not see any drones walking around but I'm sure they will be out within a few days for sure. This is important because I intend to split the hive and have them raise their own queen. A new virgin queen will need drones and if there aren't any around then she isn't going to be properly mated. Not that she would mate with her own drones, but if you have drones in your own hive, then there are probably drones out in the wild too!
Next post I hope to be showing you my new split. Until then, thanks for reading!