Monday, February 16, 2009

Second Full Inspection

We opened up the bee hive yesterday to look to see how our airport bees have progressed. I first noticed that the top feeder was close to being empty. The remaining sugar water had turned to a thick sugar mixture with little water remaining. The greasy patty was 90% consumed so I will need to put another patty on top of the brood frames.

When removing the frames there had not been a visible increase in spaced used by the colony, still only about four frames front and back. I removed the first two outer frames from the left side, both were empty. The next frame in was started with honey storage on the top section of the frame. I pulled out the next three frames to find them packed with bees and a full structure of comb. The brood size was less than expected.

If you look closely on the picture below you can see white larve within the open cells in the center of the comb.

This is were my inexperience makes explanations murky. We were unable to find the queen within the main frames. What we did find was three queen brood cells, which have me concerned. Could this be a Supersedure!? For people who don't know what that is: "Supersedure- a natural or emergency replacement of an established queen by a daughter in the same hive." Should I be worried-it is mid February and my hive may not have a queen? Are there drone bees present all year round or only in the summer months? Below is a blown up picture of a queen cell.

If anyone has seen these patterns before and can make some sense of it for me, I would appreciate it.
~ Glenn


  1. Hi Jess - what a great blog and the photos are awesome. I would be concerned too since you have queen cells but I can't tell you how many times I've opened my hives and never, never see the queen. Looks like you have good brood, they're bringing in pollen - not sure what I would do in that situation. If you have a local beekeepers group, I would contact them and see if someone could come take a look. Good luck.

  2. Glenn, depending on the temperature there, if there is nectar flow on in your region, and how much brood you are seeing, if your bees are making supercedure cells, you should be concerned. We had a similar situation where there were supercedure cells in one of our hives this past summer and we ended up having a swarm, even though there is a very real difference between swarm cells and supercedure cells, evidently our bees did not get that memo. I'd check your hive again next week and if you have more brood, then you are looking at needing to plan for a swarm - if not, then your bees are trying to replace a failing or dead queen. I'd prep a swarm trap with lure and set it up next to your hive, just in case. Julia

  3. Oh, and it never hurts to add a super to your hive when you find swarm/supercedure cells, if your temps are moderate (i.e., there is little risk of freezing in your region). Usually, if fresh brood is present and your workers are trying to create a new queen it is an indication that they are feeling crowded, even if they haven't used all of the available space yet. Did you see drones when you checked your hive? If so, that is usually more of a sign of a hive getting ready to swarm versus a hive in trouble without a queen. Drones usually mean your hive is thriving enough to support non-workers. I'd add space and prep a swarm trap, just in case. Julia

  4. Connie and Julia,
    Thank you for your input and suggestions. I was thinking of putting a super on the brood box. I am going to call the person I purchased the bees from to see if he can stop by and take a look.
    Thank you again,