Thursday, August 1, 2013

Post Action Assessment: 07-30-2013

Task number one during this inspection was to check the split hive and hopefully find evidence of a laying queen or at least find the (hopefully) non-virgin queen.  Task number two was to check White Hive to see if the queen cells spotted last time were completed or destroyed and if I actually have a laying or virgin queen in that hive as well.

Split Hive:

The population in this hive is still very low.  I had put the extra box of honey on the hive to make sure they had enough but I think I have given them too much space for too few bees.  There are lots of ants roaming around unchallenged eating honey.  They don't bother the bees but in a strong hive they wouldn't be in there at all.  The low population does make it much easier to inspect the hive and spot a queen though!  I quickly went through the box of honey and found a few bees but no queen (nor did I expect to find her there).  Going through the brood box I found some honey and nectar and a tiny bit of pollen but I found no evidence of a queen (virgin or otherwise) and no evidence of eggs, or larvae.  Based on the "bee math" I provided a link to in the last blog post, it could still be a bit early for the hatched queen to have flown out, mated and returned to lay eggs.  I'm really hoping that we did not scare her off during our last inspection and she did not come back!  At this point, I will give it one more week before I take some other action.  It is pretty late in the season, so the only practical option may be to just recombine this hive back into White Hive.

White Hive:

One of my goals this year was to keep better records.  But I am finding that I just don't have enough hands to record things on paper, plus take pictures, all while trying to manipulate frames and smoke, etc.  So this time I tried to just take a photo of each side of every frame.  It was still very clumsy but I made it happen.  Photos are great because you can often spot things that you did not see while inspecting the frames.

Inspecting the top box, it was mostly filled with honey along with a few frames of foundation that the bees have barely touched.  Having a filled frame next to an empty one just makes the bees want to draw out the filled frame even more, so I have some giant frames of honey in there!  I'll pull those for sure this fall.

The bottom box also had a lot of honey and the pollen stores seemed much larger this time.  Possibly this is because there are no larvae to feed the pollen to! 
Honey and Pollen on frame 2

I kept moving through the frames hoping to find the hatched queen or the queen cups I had spotted last time.  I hit frame number four and there was the queen!
Queen Spotting can be challenging!
Can you see her?  It always gives me a jolt when I finally spot her. 

She is in the middle of the frame a few inches down from the top.  Here she is a bit closer:

I spotted the queen, but is she the old queen or the new queen?  And what about those queen cups I saw last time?  To answer these questions I need to see if this queen is laying eggs and if the bees destroyed the queen cups.  Onward!

I continued to find patches of brood that have not hatched yet as well and large open areas with nothing in them.  Some pollen and honey on almost every frame though.  On frame 7 I hit a small patch of drone brood and this is the frame I spotted the queen cups on.

This picture wasn't as good as the one from last time, but you can see they are still open and have not been capped and turned into full queen cells.  It looks to me like the bees removed the two larvae that were in these cups.  I assume they realized they had a queen and no longer needed to raise a new one.  This is a good sign!  My main goals accomplished, I finished inspecting the remaining frames and closed up the hive.  I looked very closely at each frame and I could not find any eggs or larvae for sure.  On the photos for frame 6, if I zoom in very closely, I can see what MIGHT be a few eggs but I'm not sure.  I guess I will know which frame to look on during the next inspection to see if those phantoms have turned into larvae!
Possible eggs in the empty area to the right of the capped brood?
All in all I was pretty happy to "bee" back on track with at least one hive!  We shall see what the next inspection reveals!

On a side note, I planted some Borage this year in my garden because I had read that bees really like it.  I'd never even heard of the plant before, but as you can see in the photo, they like it!

Until next time, thanks for reading!


  1. According to my zoom on the picture, there are eggs in those cells.
    Try using the voice memo feature on your smartphone, just put it in your pocket aiming the microphone toward your head. Talk about what you see and what you want to keep track of, e.g. "Top box 9 frames of uncapped honey, unworked frame put in middle. Second box, three frames of brood, 7 frames of honey and pollen." Good luck with the hives!

    1. Glad you verified what I hoped! Good thought with the voice memo. Hoping that the weather is nice tonight and I'll see some nice larvae on those frames instead of trying to spot eggs =)