How much can bees accomplish in two weeks? A lot apparently. Prior to the hive inspection 2 weeks ago, Demeter (purple hive and successful nuc from Peter’s bees) was organized top to bottom like this: one medium with 4 partially filled foundationless frames, one medium full of honey, one deep which had brood and the bottom deep which was full of new nectar. At that inspection, we reversed the deeps because the brood and queen were in the top deep. Well, I planned to checkerboard the nectar-filled deep which was now above the brood nest. I didn’t want to disturb them last weekend and it was a busy weekend anyway. I came home early today planning to checkerboard this body to stave off any swarm plans they may have (I read that if they have a solid roof of honey over the brood nest, they may make plans to swarm).
Well, needless to say I was NOT prepared for what I saw…I took off the top medium with those 4 frames of partial comb and started to pry apart the frames in the previously honey-filled medium (from Peter’s hive). Two weeks ago, I noticed that some of the capped cells had been emptied, well can you guess what was in there now? Brood. I KNOW there weren’t even any eggs in there before so clearly they had carved out the space for the queen to expand her laying area. I must have interrupted their plans by reversing the deeps, thus moving the brood to the bottom. But finding 6 frames of brood in the medium means they’ve gone through the nectar-filled deep too, right? If that’s the case then…Holy MOLY! Among the brood were drone cells, this is excellent as it means we can start a nuc soon.
Let me check the math: ~3000 cells on a frame. Assuming 2000 cells are used for brood and say 6 frames are used in each hive body for brood. One frame can be filled in 2.5 days (front and back) as the queen can lay ~1500 eggs a day. Six frames will be filled in 15 days. The bottom deep was already 5 frames of brood 2 weeks ago, if they used 5 frames in the 2nd deep as well then the mediums are just right for the time frame. It is very likely the queen has filled that second deep with at least 5 frames of brood.
Another thing to consider is bee math. It takes 9 days for the worker brood to be capped and it emerges after 20 days. There was a lot of capped brood during the last inspection, as that brood emerges the queen will lay in there again. That brood would have emerged at most 11 days later. So about now is when the bottom deep would be filled with open brood again. I wish I could have gone in there today to see and confirm it.
The brood frames were moved into one of my mediums to free Peter’s medium. I had to carefully make sure that the queen was not on the brood frames as I moved them over. I took out the full frames of honey (which were from Peter’s hive last August) from the ends and replaced them with the partially filled foundationless frames. The brood was placed all in the middle as the bees had it.
Since I did not plan to be in there long, I didn’t have the smoker going. When I messed with the brood frames, those girls started pinging and head butting me over and over. They didn’t try to sting me, I was making a very conscious effort to be slow and gentle and that seemed to help. But even my pillow cases didn’t seem to help much, the minute I pulled the cloth off of the brood frames, you could hear and see the bees heading straight for me. Man oh man.
It looks like I’ll have enough brood to share with Peter if he needs it!
Plan: I’ve assembled more foundationless medium frames but need to add the comb guides. I should strip and paint the other medium I have to have it ready.