Behold the Brood

Yesterday evening we did our first full inspection in two weeks. We had two main objectives: make the sure the queen was laying eggs and make sure the comb was straight. Though we found a couple of surprises, all in all, we have a very successful report.

Inside the Hive

The bees were collectively in a really good mood. They didn’t seem to mind us snooping around. We calmed them with a little sugar water to start, but quickly realized it was unnecessary. They were too busy working to give us a lot of mind.

The capped brood is coming along nicely. We installed the package 18 days ago, so just a few more days before new bees will come out of their cells. It was fun to watch nurse bees climb into cells and feed larvae. We also got to watch some workers bring in pollen and deliver it.

Below is a great example of what we ran into. Nice brood comb on the bottom with some nectar and a little capped honey on the top, and lots of pollen cells. You can see the larvae, too.

Brood Pollen Honey

Here is a close up of the larvae and capped brood:


The Queen was alive and well, although she was hanging out on the one pure honey comb we found. It was the eighth bar from the entrance. Not sure what she was doing there, but it is her domain. She can go where she wants! We noticed her blue mark is fading, which means we’ll have to identify her without any marking before too long. That’s a little intimidating.

Queen Bee

There was some burr comb being built on the wall of the hive. It hadn’t gotten far yet, so it was an easy fix. We simply knocked it out with the hive tool. The bees didn’t seem to mind.

Burr Comb

On the third comb from the entrance we found two layers of comb on the same top bar. Thankfully, the second layer was small and not causing any major problems. We simply removed the second layer with the hive tool. We will keep a close eye on this spot to make sure there are no lingering issues. Could be a spacing issue here. Not sure yet. We did add one more top bar at the the entrance to give the bees a little more room to build. There are now 13 bars. We started with 10.

Double Comb

To our surprise, there were two cells of capped honey on the small comb we cut off. We decided to have our first taste of Promised Land Honey. I am biased, but it was delicious. Can’t wait to try more than a drop!

Next inspection we hope to find more capped honey and, I hope, a growing population.


6 thoughts on “Behold the Brood

  1. Good that the little comblet did not propagate crazy comb to the adjacent bar and beyond. What did you use to provide comb-building hints on the flat-bottomed top bars? Strip of foundation? Line of melted wax? We stifle the creativity of our bees by using a strongly peaked bottom on our bars.

    1. We used thin, bare strips of wood as a starter (similar to large popsicle sticks). They hadn’t been dipped in wax. I think dipping them in wax might have been helpful though, and next time we may try that. I’ve read the peaked bottoms are really good guides for the bees. Have you found that?

      1. Definitely. Our first top bars, that came with the purchased hive, had a very slightly beveled bottom (ten degrees perhaps) with a kerf down the centerline filled with wax. The bees mostly followed the line but when something disturbed them there was little to stop the comb from wandering across multiple bars and then each succeeding comb amplified the ripple/curve until we could do nothing.
        The top bars we have made since have a pronounced peak and the comb has been straight ever since. Of course, we also have learned to add new bars between existing straight comb so perhaps the peak does not get all the credit. Nevertheless it seems to help a lot.

  2. Great photos!

    When trying to find an unmarked queen, remember she will generally head away from the light. Hold a comb up with one side in the sun, one side in shadow, over the hive (in case the queen falls off). Then turn it to reverse the lighting. The queen will generally scamper from bright to dark side, so watch the edges for sudden movement. You can practice this next time you see her, marked.

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