Queenless question answered

Last week when I looked at the purple hive, I wondered if it was queenless because all I saw was capped brood. I decided to take a quick peek yesterday as whether it was queenless or not would help me decide what to do with the new nucs. First I wanted to see how the honey supers were shaping up.

To encourage the bees to work in the honey supers (which were separated by queen excluders) I put in a frame of left-over capped honey that I had. This did the trick to entice them into the supers. I also gave them a mix of drawn comb and foundationless frames. Needless to say, the value of drawn comb cannot be overemphasized…they already started packing the available cells with nectar and while they working on the foundationless frames somewhat, it looked like most of their energy was going into the already drawn comb. I actually gave them some very ragged frames where the edges of the cells were jagged and torn, it was neat to see how the workers straighten and neaten the edges. Remember that the bees need lots of open cells to be able to hold the nectar while they evaporate the water content, as the water content is reduced, the nectar takes up less space. I’m going to make more of an effort to have drawn comb available for them. I may do that this fall when I’m feeding them.

Onto the purple hive. There were lots of bees coming and going, my first indication that things may be okay here. I popped off the inner cover and was faced with LOTS of bees. Hmmm…I took out the first frame and saw loads of drones, this is okay if the hive is fine, but if it’s not fine, lots of drones can be a bad thing. Was the queen there but a drone layer? I checked the next frame, capped worker brood, PHEW! Next frame, open brood and capped worker brood, C-shaped larvae and then eggs. THEN I spotted the queen with her pink dot wearing away. Remember, we don’t need to see the queen, just evidence of her presence.

I’ve noticed that this has happened to me sometimes, if the light isn’t right and I miss seeing eggs and/or if my inspection happens to fall at the point in the egg-laying cycle where the brood has just emerged and the cells are being cleaned and readied for the queen, I wonder if the hive is queenless. You know what the best answer is to this? Close them up and check them a week later.

Next task: making a Taranov board, I think I’m going to need it.



  1. Phew. I can sense your relief. I thought you were getting panicky there talking about Taranov boards.

    I’ve just launched some labels for honey. What do you think? Do you think they will be popular?

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