Warning – novice beekeeper alert

I inspected my TWO hives on Sunday with some trepidation.

Hive A: My hopes were raised when I looked in the old hive (the one that swarmed 5 weeks ago) and I saw white “stuff” at the bottom of some of the cells.  To a desperate, novice beekeeper, they looked a bit like uncapped larvae. To members of the Beekeeping Forum, with no emotional attachment to my hives, it was definetly granulated honey stores.  In conclusion, there may, or maynot, be a newly-laying Queen. Advice from beekeepers welcome.

Hive B: The newly hived swarm seemed to be doing nicely.  The first thing that amazed me was that they had drunk all the sugar syrup I had given them.  They had drawn out most of the frames and were starting to fill them with nectar and pollen.  I was hoping to see eggs, but it was 5pm, the light was poor and I could not see any.  The only worry about this hive is that Dad report enormous amounts of activity at about 1.30pm and he showed me some photos and it looked like they might have been planning to swarm.  So this might be a Queenless hive too.  Advice appreciated.

This is my first year of beekeeping and it’s even more complex than I originally thought.  Four days of training, some experience and numerous books had not shown me any photos of granulated stores or given me a definitive answer on what to do in the circumstances I have described in a number of posts.  There is a constant uncertainty around not having a laying Queen and further swarming.  I had hoped to be an OK beekeeper in my first year and make 2-3 supers of honey. I am now seeing this period as a huge learning experience.

I am going to phone a friend.

Original hive / brood box frame / no brood / granulated honey in centre / honey stores around the edge:

granulated stores

Newly hived swarm / drawing out new comb:

new hive brood frame

To find out what happened next you might want to read Proud Dad and please subscribe to this blog.


Warning – novice beekeeper alert — 8 Comments

  1. hi from another new bristol beek here, 4 weeks in!

    Great pics, to my untrained eye that second one looks like it has pollen stores too, if you look in the centre, you can see some pollen bundles before they’ve been fully processed by the bees.

    The activity from the newly hived swarm may have been a mating flight by a Virgin Q, mine did the same the day after I hived them and they’re still there 3+ weeks later with a laying Q, although still haven’t seen her, have seen egs and larva.

    enjoying your blog, keep going and good luck

  2. Uncapped larvae will be coiled in the cell and have clearly defined segments. I can’t see any signs of segments in the photo, but you will be in a better position to tell.

    Bees usually swarm on day 8 of the queen’s development (the first day the cell’s capped). This should mean your queen emerged roughly four weeks ago if they swarmed five weeks ago. By now I’d expect to see eggs and new brood, so if you’re not seeing any my guess is she failed to mate with all the rain. You need to do something quickly – either combine the hive with your other one or buy in a mated queen.

  3. Oh and re hive B – could there have been a virgin queen in the swarm? 1.30pm is around the time when a virgin would mate, and the workers will go out with her, which could explain the activity your dad saw. Queenless hives won’t swarm.

  4. Your swarm safely deposited at the South Glos Apiary. Looks like they came from your newest hive. You have one sealed Queen cell and no sign of the original Queen, otherwise colony seems to be doing well. Check other hive tomorrow just in case swarm came from there. Cut out all but two of the best Queen cells if any, and await developements.
    Good Luck

  5. Sorry if you feel upset about not being able to check your own bees, but your Dad seemed a bit concerned as to what he needed to do so I just helped him through an inspection, rather than leave it and perhaps lose a caste as well as a prime swarm.
    Hope everything OK now.

    • Hi there. Thanks for your concern but please do not take my writings too seriously … my feelings of beekeeping inadequacy started as soon as the bees arrived and I am just laughing at myself. It was helpful that you had a look in as I wasn’t feeling too good the next day and then I was away and didn’t have time to have a look. I might have lost a caste, I’m not sure. Fingers crossed only one Queen emerged or survived. Will see how much honey is in there tomorrow. Thanks for your help.

  6. Don’t be too disappointed…..Honey not likely to be very much, but you would not be alone here, weather has played havoc.

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