Busy bees

The first hive is about three days behind the second in terms of baby bee development. We saw eggs and larvae on multiple combs, and managed to spot the queen before putting the hive back together.

The second hive has eggs, larvae, and capped brood. It has a tiny bit of a bend in the comb, but we can still separate the bars; they just tend to spoon each other a little more than would be ideal. Ideally, I’ll be able to rotate straight comb through both hives to correct the second hive’s curve by the winter.

Both hives are getting sugar water on a regular basis since they started from scratch with no comb. We should be able to stop feeding them in a few weeks once they’ve drawn enough comb to have a surplus of foraged nectar.

So who’s laying these eggs?

It has been eight days since we installed the bees in their top bar hives. Today was finally sunny and warm, so Madeline and I opened the hives to to make sure that there is brood in the drawn comb, which indicates that the hive has a laying queen. Without a queen, the worker bees will die off without being replaced.

Both hives had at least four fairly large combs on bars, and after a lot of searching, we found what we were looking for — single tiny white eggs at the bottom of empty cells. We restocked the sugar water feeders and replaced the styrofoam floats with wood blocks, then closed up the hives. We’ll check again in one week to make sure there is more brood, refill the feeders, and open up more beespace in the hive. There is a follower board that keeps the usable hive area small so that there is less space that the bees need to keep heated, since nights are still kind of chilly.

Like Christmas, but with bees

The bees have had four days to do their bee things, so today was a great day to open the hives up, check for the queen and release her if needed, and fix any cross-comb issues. The sky was overcast but it was warm and sunny enough that the hives were relatively quiet as Madeline and I approached them.

We had to release the queen in the first hive that we opened, but the bees had three partial bars of comb ready for her. It got a little buzzy at various points–especially while I was trying to remove the queen cage from some messy comb–but the bees quickly settled back in once the hive was back together.

The second hive had already released the queen so I spent most of my time trying to avoid disturbing the front of the nest while removing the queen cage and filling up the feeder.