Sunday, August 5, 2012

Good Inspection, and a Surprise!

The weather lately has been very hot. This weekend, we had a beach picnic event with our Church on Saturday morning, 10 to 2, during the hottest part of the day. Then when we returned, I had the prospect of getting into a bee suit and inspecting my hives. I did so about 4:30PM, but the temperature was still around 90, and I ended up spending 1 1/2 hours during the inspection. To say I was a little sweaty was an understatement - I was soaked!. But for some reason, that day, spending all that time outside in the heat, I felt really good. Good honest sweating isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Anyway, the bees were very active. They are adapting to the heat, as evidenced by the amount of bees on the outside of my hives. I saw one of my nucs looking like this on Saturday:

I like inspecting nucs. The bees in 5 frames don't give me a lot of hassle. Plus, I can (usually!) find the queen in 5 frames (but not always - see below). After I inspect my 4 nucs, I take a look at the green hive with it's 2 deep and 3 honey supers, and it's daunting!

Grey Nuc

The grey nuc continues to thrive. After taking out one of the frames for the inspection, here's what was left - look at all those bees!

The brood pattern on this frame looks a little spotty. But if you look, the cells without brood contain nectar. I should probably do something about giving this nuc some relief - either pulling some frames and giving some empties, or I have a little medium "super" for the nuc - maybe put that on. I'll think about it.

Here's the queen. I got a better shot of her - not so blurry this time!

White Nuc

The White Nuc was made up a few weeks ago from some frames on which I found a queen cell or two (from the Green Hive). Today was about when I'd expect to see eggs/larvae, and I wasn't disappointed!

You can see the new larvae in these photos - beautiful!

Also note in the first frame that on the left side you see honey. Bees usually put honey above their brood. But I remember in this case there was a frame completely full of honey - I think it was this one. The bees removed the honey to make room for the queen, and the honey on the left is still remaining.

Also, I wasn't able to see this queen - she was very elusive! I checked every frame twice, which is my limit when inspecting a nuc. Next inspection I'll try to find and mark her.

Blue Nuc

This nuc has a long-standing queen, and continues to do well. I should probably sell her. She is a good layer:

And here she is on the top right of the wood part of the frame:

The frame she is on is interesting - it is a foundationless frame that was made last year by the bees with drone-sized cells in it. You'll see it is pretty much empty, while the other frame was packed with brood. The hive obviously doesn't feel they need drones now, so I should probably switch the frame with regular sized cells.

Brown Nuc

This is the nuc from which I stole and sold the queen. I am letting them build another, and it is too early for a queen.

You can see that there are plenty of bees:

And here are some queen cells.

All is proceeding according to plan.

Green Hive

This hive has 3 honey supers stacked on it. I put the top super on mostly because the frames had a little mold on them, and i wanted the bees to clean it up a little.

To my surprise, they have been going like gangbusters putting honey in it! Here's one of the frames:

Here are some of the lower frames: 

This is what I like to see! There are enough frames to justify some extraction action. I have some family visiting in a couple of weeks, so I am going to put off the extraction until they come so they can see it. It'll be fun!

I also saw young larvae in the hive, so I know the queen is good.

Pink Hive

The Pink Hive suffered from a laying worker weeks ago. I was moving over a frame of larvae and eggs each week for about 3 weeks. That appeared to stop the laying worker, and I saw this during the inspection, a queen cell:

That queen cell was capped, but I also saw another one uncapped:

I tried to get a picture up inside the cell - I don't know if you can see it, but there is a larva in there!

More capped cells on another side:

So this hive is on it's way to recovering.
I also saw lots of nectar in the brood area. Maybe I'll drop on a super to see what they will do with it.

Brown Hive

I dropped a honey super of undrawn frames on this hive a while back, and they pretty much ignored it. Last inspection I saw that they had just started drawing out some of the frames, and putting up some nectar.

This inspection I got the nicest surprise. It started when I lifted up the inner cover:

The bees had added lots of wax between the tops of the frame and the inner cover. Whenever this happens, you know the bees have been busy!

Then I looked down and saw this!

You see nice white wax right up to the top of the frames, all clean and straight, and what looks like capped honey. Could it be???

YES!! The bees had been going gangbusters filling up the honey super!! They started out with undrawn frames and now we have honey! On a white frame, the new wax and new cappings look fabulous.

On the next frames down, I saw the typical brood chamber pattern: 

Great pattern here. Notice that there is a line of wax 2 pictures above - the bees will only start filling a honey super when there is a little bit of honey along the top of the brood chamber. Otherwise they won't make the jump over.

One thing about this hive - it was NASTY! The bees were very irritated, and I got head-bumped a whole lot inspecting this hive. I had to wait extra time on my porch after closing everything up to let the bees calm down and leave me alone. Last week I was mowing the lawn and got stung on my neck (I wasn't anywhere near the hives when I got stung!) and I wouldn't be surprised if it was from this hive.


So here's a summary of the hives (I updated my spreadsheet - link on the right):
  • Grey Nuc - Marked Queen, doing well.
  • White Nuc - Unmarked Queen, as yet unseen.
  • Blue Nuc - Marked Queen, doing well.
  • Brown Nuc - No queen yet - expect eggs/larvae around 8/24
  • Green Hive - Eggs/larvae visible, doing well
  • Pink Hive - Queen cells visible - expect eggs/larvae around 8/24
  • Brown Hive - Eggs/larvae visible, doing well. A little mean.


  1. Thanks for this post. Next year I'm hoping to do nucs and I'm really learning a lot from yours.

    Are you going to replace the mean queen?

  2. @Robin - I'm not sure the brown hive is permanently mean. This is the first time I've seen them this agitated - could have been the weather, etc.

    It certainly isn't too hard to deal with. But if it keeps up, I certainly have some requeening options available.

    Nucs are fun to have - easy too, once you have the equipment.


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