It was a HUGE day for the Whiting Forest hive! As you know from last week’s post, an expansion was in order. When we opened the outer cover of the hive, the bees were overflowing onto the inner cover. The photo shows Elly holding the inner cover with bees on top of it and the overflowing hive below. It was clearly time to put on an addition to their home. We added a second deep box of foundation frames. Together these two levels are known as the brood box. Their purpose is to hold the queen and all of her progeny. You may be asking, what about the honey? – As a newbie to beekeeping, I know I did. The queen and her workers are still working on creating a strong hive that can sustain their population. Bee keepers encourage the bees to fill two levels with brood before putting in place another level that will hold honey supers. We did this with minimal disruption because we were about to create CHAOS in the area.
As you can see from the photo, we had two new hives ready and two nucs to install (approximately 20,000 bees each). The first one we opened was loaded with bees and you could just hear them. The frames are removed one at a time and inspected for signs of a queen. In this first colony, we found older brood and emerging brood, but no signs of eggs or young larvae. We saw no queen, which is not uncommon in a group this size, but we found some signs that the workers are trying to raise a new queen. This means that the queen is either absent or not strong enough to keep the hive going. The photo below shows supercedure cells – drooping structures. These are the result of the workers taking newly laid brood and providing them with different conditions so that they will develop into a queen. We will need to check back in a few days to see if they were successful.