Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Inspection: My Fabulous Assistant, Drone Comb, and a Queen Cup

My pre-teen son has a lot on his mind these days. Most of it doesn't involve his mum, so I was delighted when he volunteered to inspect the bees with me yesterday. He'll be off to college in just a few more years, so I have to enjoy these moments when I get them.

My able assistant

We started with Hippolyte since there is a little more shade next to her. She looked to be doing quite well. In two days, her ravenous girls had consumed about a quart or so of syrup. In fact, she looked excellent overall. A lot of brood has emerged over the past week, and their recently vacated cells have been reoccupied by eggs/larvae.

8.5 bars with worker brood, 2.5 with drone brood, 1 with honey

We didn't inspect the entire hive, but I did want to see what the bees had done with the 3 empty bars I'd given them last week. One (placed between the brood nest and honey barrier) was still empty. I left that in place. The other two, which I'd inserted into the brood nest, contained drone comb. We moved these two bars with drone comb, as well as a third bar that contained both drone & worker brood, to the edge of the nest.

The entrance seemed crowded, so I opened an entrance. Within two seconds, bees were pouring out. After inspecting Austeja, the entrances still seemed crowded, so I opened a third.

By the time we closed up Austeja, my son was melting in his bee suit from the heat and absconded, so I went through Austeja alone.

She was starting to build some honeycomb at the edge of the nest, which was a welcome sight. She also had quite a lot of drone comb -- 3 1/2 bars have drone comb on them. I moved these to the end of the nest as well. However, the rest of the comb was just amazing. It was packed with worker brood.

Drone comb

Austeja also had one little queen cup. Sorry, it's a bit hard to see in this photo, but it's right there on the edge of the comb.

Comb with queen cup

It's funny because from the entrance, Austeja doesn't seem to have a lot happening. The entrance seems quiet and never has too many bees crowded around it. Of course, she started with fewer bees than Hippolyte. However, this queen is a laying machine! My husband thinks she kicked out all the layabouts and retained only the workaholics. Maybe he's onto something there.

10.5 bars with worker brood, 3.5 with drone comb, 1 with honey


  1. Beautiful. Just beautiful! I love the expression of concentration and the curls of smoke in that second photo. Bees and combs are pretty impressive too!

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