I made an thorough inspection of the hive yesterday, exactly 4 weeks after the package bees were installed. My last visit was 2 weeks earlier, when I found about 40% of the frames had been drawn out, and there was a lot of capped brood cells. I did not see the queen that day, but I found eggs and larvae, so I could assume she was doing her thing.
In the photo above you see a nicely filled out frame, with capped honey near the top (lighter cells) and capped brood cells in the middle (darker cells). In between the two are some larvae that are almost ready to be capped over for their transformation from the larval stage into bees. The development from egg to worker bee takes 21 days total.
Yesterday I did see the queen, though she almost scooted away before I could grab the camera. Let me just say I am envious of those beekeepers who can suit up and manage to get great photos of the bees and hive. One handed photography is not my specialty, especially when outfitted with a hat, veil and (sometimes) gloves!
Still, I did manage to snap a few photos that might be interesting to the general public. The photo above shows the sometimes elusive queen, who came from the apiary marked with a white dot. Sounds like she would be easy to find with a bullseye painted on her, but that’s not always the case. This frame contains capped honey cells on top, but the darker cells below are ones that the first wave of bees has emerged from. The cells are reused and repaired as needed by the workers so the queen can go about her never ending job of laying eggs.
My hive will have two deep hive bodies on the bottom for the brood chamber, and I will add shallow bodies (supers) above that for the harvested honey. I chose shallow supers because they are lighter when full of honey, though still heavy (about 30-40 pounds).
At this point, the ten frames contain a nice mix of capped brood cells, eggs, larvae, pollen and honey. In the photo above, the red arrows are pointing to cells that contain eggs. That area of the frame is enlarged a bit in the photo below so you can see the eggs a bit better.
The eggs look like tiny grains of rice when the queen deposits them in the cells. In three days they have grown and hatched into a larva. The two red arrows in this photo are pointing to cells with young larva in them, with eggs in the cells just to the left. In five days the larva grows to fill the cell, at which point the workers cap the cell with wax. I found this article that does a good job of explaining the life cycle of the bee, complete with photos.
My primary goal with this inspection was to determine if it was time to add a second hive body. With 80% or more of the frames drawn out, it is time. I will add the body tomorrow. With any luck in a month or so I will be able to add a honey super to the hive. I plan on inspecting the hive again in another couple of weeks. Hopefully by then they will drawing out comb in the second hive body, and the queen will be laying there as well.
I hope you have enjoyed this update on the Happy Acres bees!
Your bees are doing a great job! I love my bees. I have an impossible time photographing my bees, too. I think the good photos we see are done by “assistants”…the pool I have to choose from are beephobic!
Your hive looks fantastic! And the photos are very well done!
Very interesting stuff. I’m a little skiddish about getting bees. I really need to attend a class or workshop on them.
Fantastic photos and info- lovin’ the bee posts!
Excellent job!! Your bees and frames look so productive and healthy — you’re off to a great start!
I loved the larvae photo — great close up to see the stages they’re in. Sometimes doing and photographing at the same time are difficult but you managed well.
Thanks Lynn. Standing out in the bright sunlight, wearing the veil, there is no way I can review the photos and see what they look like. So I shoot them and hope for the best. I had to upload them to really see what I got. The digital SLR certainly helps!
I am indeed enjoying these bee posts!
Never before have I been able to see, even 2nd hand, this process in such detail! It is just one of the most incredible, amazing things to me in all of nature! These insects make honey! It will never stop being astonishing!
Equally amazing to me is how you can spot that queen bee so easily.
I love these bee posts and look forward to the next installment! Thanks!
Dave, my sister is interested in having a bee hive, but not necessarily in the honey. So, a couple things, can you recommend a source to give her some good information on bees and where to get supplies, and IF she decides to start a hive, do you know anyone that might be interested in harvesting the honey? She would just like to have the bees for pollinators, and is not a big fan of honey.
Jane, I got my supplies from the Walter Kelley Bee Co. Another good source for supplies is Dadant and Sons.
I don’t know of anyone that would get the honey. She could setup a hive so that the bees could just keep the honey.
Dave – I would like to use one of your photos for a presentation I’m giving in Graduate School about CCD and the democratization of science. How should I credit you? What’s your full name?