Sunday, 14 June 2015

Hive Inspection

Once a week I like to do a bed check on my four honey bee hives. Are they queen right? Is she laying well? Do they need more frames? That sort of thing. This morning was my day to inspect. Two hives have queens that overwintered from last year. The other two are nucleus hives (called nucs) that must make their own queens.

In one of the nucs, I found a new queen, born less than a couple of weeks ago. I caged and marked her with this year's official beekeeping colour which is blue. Before I could release her, she ruined the look of her freshly applied makeup when she rubbed her thorax against the marking cage netting, adding a blue smudge to a wing and her abdomen. Anyway, her young majesty is laying well and the hive is well populated and cheerful.

The other nuc hive has not yet produced a queen but are busy grooming queen cells in a donated frame of brood. The bees in that hive are quite docile and seem to be optimistic that their queen rearing enterprise will succeed. Each week I'll add a frame of brood with eggs until I confirm that they are queen right.

Nurse bees fussing over one of their capped queen cells on a donated frame.

The same hive adding royal jelly to another queen cell, not yet capped.

A young queen's mating flight can be problematic. The past several weeks have had many rainy days. Not good since queens mate in mid-air drone congregations. Then there is the gauntlet of birds that would love to nab a flying queen or her entourage. I've spotted an Eastern Kingbird in the yard. They love to snack on honey bees. Are you feeling lucky Princess?

Sorry Carol, but I just had to steal your great idea for a honey gathering box.

The girls (and a couple of flies) love their grape jelly treat.

My yard's Eastern Kingbird watches for insect prey. Please -- not the queen!


  1. this sounds very detailed, and how do you catch the queen? Is she a lot larger? I think the bees there are all looking so good for the new season, at least from my "un-technical" eyes.

  2. Glad we were able to give you a good idea. It works well for us...I use a feather to swipe the bees off and Jim put it inside and covers it. Nothing fancy but it works.


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