Delving into the hive life

A week ago (3 weeks after installation), hive 2 had drawn out about 75% of the frames, which is the point at which most beekeepers add a second brood chamber. If you fail to give the queen enough room to lay eggs, the colony may decide to swarm and leave the hive. To avoid this, we added a second brood chamber above the first.

To our surprise, after only 1 week with the second story, this past weekend’s inspection revealed 4 of the new frames already well-drawn out with wax, and 3 of them were already loaded with eggs! As I said, Beeyonce is a superstar.

Beeyonce doin' her thing

Beeyonce doin’ her thing! (See her? Lower, right of center)

Eggs are really hard to see. They are like a miniature grain of rice, standing up on end within each cell. In hive 2, I chose to use a black plastic foundation, which helps the white eggs stand out better for easier visualization.  Some beekeepers say their bees don’t like the plastic foundation as well as natural wax (which my hive 1 has), however, I’ve not seen them hesitate to draw wax on the plastic.

Freshly laid eggs.

Freshly laid eggs.

After 3 days, the eggs hatch and larva emerge. In the larval stage, the nurse bees continually feed the larvae until they are nice and plump, and almost fill the entire cell.

Frame showing many different ages (sizes) of larva.

Frame showing many different ages (sizes) of larvae.

After 5-6 days, the cells the larvae are in are capped (covered) with wax, and inside, the larvae spin a cocoon and develop into the pupal stage. Like a butterfly does, the pupae emerge from their cocoon in 12-14 days as beautiful baby bees!

This frame is almost entirely "capped brood". Baby bees will emerge from all of these cells in 12-14 days.

This frame is almost entirely “capped brood”. Baby bees will emerge from all of these cells in 12-14 days.

Hive 1 was still significantly lagging compared to Hive 2, but after this past week had drawn out enough comb in the 1st box to warrant adding the second. We now have 2 double story hives!

Double decker hives!

Double decker hives!

The population difference we’ve noticed between our 2 hives can be addressed by “equalizing the hives“. This may be something to consider doing to give the slacker hive a bit of a boost.  To do this, you take 2-3 frames containing mostly capped brood from the strong hive (hive 2) and move them to the weak hive (hive 1). Then you add fresh frames of empty foundation to the hive you took the capped brood from. Equalizing the hives in this fashion does 2 things: help increase the population of the weaker hive, and also will help maintain an open brood nest (with space for the queen to lay) in the strong hive which will discourage swarming.  I think we will probably do this next inspection.

There’s always something new to see and think about each inspection!

Until next time, bee happy!



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