Drama in the Hive

Today is my birthday and after all the celebratory hubbub settled, we decided to do a hive check before the hustle of the new week hits. The bees have drawn comb on all but two of the frames, which means I need to add a honey super and super-quick, especially given what we saw happening.

We saw lots and LOTS of capped honey. Let me tell you, honey is heavy! I can’t imagine how I’m going to lift a whole box of frames off to check the hive body. But I’m going to have to do just that later this week. Keep reading…

Honey, honey, honey

Several frames have a nice mix of capped nectar/honey and capped brood, although I didn’t see any eggs.

Healthy frame

We saw goopy stuff that I think is royal jelly and puffy stuff that might be bee bread. I’m not sure because it’s really hard to find color photos that are in focus and zoomed in of either substance.

We saw this cool cell with a couple of pollen packets in the midst of lots of nectar.

This bee was rolling a little bit of pollen into a ball.

But then things started getting worrisome. First, I noticed a couple of odd shaped cells at the bottom of one of the frames.

They are the beginnings of queen cells. I didn’t see the queen, but the larvae seemed good evidence that she’s still doing well since the eggs for those were laid up to nine days ago. Hial said he didn’t see anything inside, so maybe no egg has been laid there… yet. If the queen lays an egg there, the workers will fill it up with royal jelly and make a big peanut-shaped cell. Sixteen days later, a new queen will emerge. Are they planning to swarm? They don’t appear to be overcrowded. Is there something wrong with the queen?

Then, we noticed something strange about a group of cells several frames away. Look closely – they aren’t formed on the foundation and are bigger than the other cells around it. I think these are drone cells, although there aren’t any eggs or larvae in them and I didn’t see any drones. But it seems to be more evidence that something is afoot.

The oversized drone cells result in smaller, squished cells between. I wonder what, if anything, they put in those tiny spaces.

So, in a few days we’re going to go in again.  I’m going to have to take off the brood chamber (which must weigh 50 pounds if it’s an ounce!) and find the queen in the bottom hive body. I’ve read conflicting advice on the queen cells. If she appears to be ok, I’m going to remove the queen cells. If she’s missing in action or damaged, I’ll probably need to order another queen. Let’s just hope that’s NOT what is happening. Oh, the drama!

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