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!