Garden Geekery

First Inspection–Queen Spotted!

I was finally able to open the hives for an inspection this past Saturday, after waiting impatiently for a week. I was fed up with the gloves after just two uses, so I decided to try gloveless this time. Had a moment of panic when the first bee landed on my hand and I shook it off, then remembered that was a bad idea. Once I remembered that they’ re really not likely to sting (and that even if they do, it’s not really a big deal–I’ve been stung by honey bees before, and it didn’t hurt for more than a minute), it was fine. They landed and walked on me, but no problems. And SO much easier without the stupid gloves!

Big fat drone--right in the middle with the really big eyes

Opened the Vulcan hive first, the one started from the nuc. Inspections are supposed to be short and with a purpose, to minimize disturbance to the hive. The main reason for the first week’s inspection is to make sure the queen is still there. It’s not always easy to find her, so if you can at least find eggs, you know she was there three days ago (since it takes three days for the eggs to hatch into larvae) and so she’s probably fine.

I went through each of the 10 frames twice trying to find her and/or eggs with no luck. Lots and lots of larvae, a few big fat drones, but I couldn’t get the light right to see any eggs. (They’re SUPER tiny at the very bottom of the comb cells.) But just as I was about to start through again, Tim spotted her! She was busily poking her head into a cell, turning around to lay an egg in it, then moving on to the next. Pretty neat!

Queen

Now that I know what she looks like, she might be easier to find. She’s a lot brighter orange than the rest of the bees in that hive. It was also really cool to see the bees around her in formation. I’d read that you can often spot the queen because the bees immediately surrounding her will form a circle with their heads pointed at her. You can see them doing that in the photos. Neat!

Queen laying an egg

Once I knew she was there and laying, I put all the frames back and closed up the hive. They’d eaten all their syrup from last week, so I added more.

Moving on to the Andorian hive (from the package bees). Again, the reason for the inspection was just to make sure the queen was laying eggs. There are fewer bees and fewer frames of comb (they haven’t had much time to make comb on the foundation yet), plus this queen is marked with a blue dot, so I figured it’d be pretty easy to spot her. No such luck. I never did end up finding her, but I saw a bunch of eggs. So she’s there somewhere! Closed it up, added more sugar syrup, and that was that!

Notice the difference in the comb between this hive and the other one (in the queen and drone pictures). This is brand new; they’ve just drawn it since I put them into the hive a week ago. So it’s a bright, clean yellow/white. The comb in the other hive has been there a while, so it’s a dark brown. There’s nothing wrong with it–it’s just older. Neat to see the difference.

Newly drawn comb in the package hive

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