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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    80

    Default Egg laying cells

    Hi all, I am new to top bar beekeeping, one week. I have been inspecting my hive regularly through the window i made, but have no idea whether i have my queen and whether she is laying eggs. I see the bees making comb, but can not distinguish the difference between the types of comb. How can I tell what kind of cells are being made? Do I need to open the hive and try and find the queen? Should I normally be able to find cells where eggs are being hatched?

    thanks and sorry for all the questions, but I am a newbee!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    So you have the much envied observation window... I need one for convenience.

    Anyway, if they are building comb then they are fine. They will build a bunch of comb at first, and more than likely the queen is laying in that comb. If your queen is not marked, then finding her is sometimes hard. You can however inspect the hive and pretty much know she is there without actually seeing her. If there aren't any funky queen cells being built then your queen is probably still in house. Remember she goes out to mate (I don't know if it is every day or not) So she may be out on a date while you are looking for her. If you want to see her then open the hive later in the day.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    macon, ga
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    Don't open the hive later in the day. If the queen was mated she won't leave to mate again. Open the hive between 1 and 5 pm when many of the workers are out. If they are bringing in pollen you are fine.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    If it has already been a full week then I would suggest you go ahead and do your first "REAL" insepection!

    If there aren't very many combs made yet it wont be too awful hard to find the queen on the combs. Go ahead and pull each one and take a good look at each.

    I wouldn't worry too much about what "kind" of cells they are making.... that's not really a big concern for right now. At this point you should really only have one major question to answer... Is my queen alive and well???

    Obviously you can tell that by actually spotting her on the comb, but there are also a couple other things you can look for.

    Check for eggs... They are very small, thin objects on the bottom of cells. I'm sure you can probably google a picture of what they look like if you haven't seen one before.

    Another sign, and a likely sign to see soon, is actual larva. They look like small grubs curled up in the bottom of the cells. Either one of these things would be an almost definite sign that your queen is alive.

    The only exception would be if your queen died and you had a worker already laying, but I would say that is pretty unlikely right now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel palmer View Post
    Don't open the hive later in the day. If the queen was mated she won't leave to mate again. Open the hive between 1 and 5 pm when many of the workers are out. If they are bringing in pollen you are fine.
    The queen leaves the hive quite often to mate maybe not every day but often. If you don't see supercedure queen cells then your'e fine. Normally the bees will supercede within 3 or 4 days when the queen is gone.
    P.S. open your hive whenever you want. I have a real job and I check my hive whenever I get home. Only thing is you will have more worker bees buzzing around at the end of the day.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    So, as long as they are bringing in pollen, I should "rest assured" that I have a queen and everything is OK??

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    Are you saying I can actually see inside the cells?? I thought once the cells are closed, you can't see anything until they hatch?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Moyock, NC, USA
    Posts
    207

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    the larvae will be visible from day one (egg) to day 12 or 14. Then they close them off and the larvae pupate.
    That is for drones and workers. total time for drones is 21 days 24 for workers.
    bees with their head in the comb are feeding babies. big round caps on the cell indicate drones, flat is workers.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    wow, thanks, you've been a great help. I'm learning more quickly than i had anticipated with everyone's input.

    thanks,

    larry

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Greenwood, Indiana
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    This is "the voice of experience" from a one month owner of two new top bar hives.
    llgoddj, do not start inspecting ANYTHING for at least two weeks, and even then DO NOT start lifting those super-fragile new combs; they will break off if you do. Take out several empty bars first and slide the ones with comb on them back so that you can see both sides without ever lifting them; even then, be VERY careful. After two weeks don't worry about seeing the queen... lots of time for that. Usually (not for all hives) the WHITE capped cells have honey in them, and the beige/brown capped cells have brood in them. Take something with a point and uncap a white cell to see if it's honey; then uncap a darker cell to see if a larva is inside... if so, you have a queen. Close up the hive and stay the hell away from it for at least two more weeks. I know you will, but try not to anyway. Believe it OR NOT, the bees do not need your help. Good luck resisting. ;-)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    You have to look at the combs to know what's what. As mentioned above, the type of combs being built is not as important as the fact they are building comb. The bees will build the type comb they need, and it will be a combination of worker and drone comb. You can see newly laid eggs and tell if you have a queen or not. If your eyes aren't good enough to see the tiny rice-shaped eggs, they'll hatch in a few days and you can see the little curled white larvae. The cell capping on a larva cell is browner and porous to let air in to the larva. Honey cell cappings are smooth and solid. Once the honey is capped, they don't want air getting to it. There's really no need poke a hole in the capping to tell. There are plenty of pictures out there showing what is what.

    While combs are delicate, they won't break if you lift them straight up and hold them where they hang straight down. They're much less likely to break when they're just partially built and not as heavy. A bar full of honey will be quite heavy and fragile, especially if it's hot. If you're nervous about an inspection, get someone to go with you with a good camera and take some quick pictures of the combs. You can blow them up on your computer and see things you might miss during an inspection with bees buzzing around you, including those eggs and larvae.

    You don't need to find the queen if you find eggs and larva, so don't spend a lot of extra time hunting for her. You'll get better at spotting her as time goes on.

    The inspection window is nice to have to show your friends the inside of a hive, but you don't see much in there. You can see how many combs are built and how complete they are, but I've never seen the queen thru my hives with windows and you can't tell the difference between drone and worker comb from the side.

    I think pollen coming in is a good sign, but not proof of a queen. Eggs and larvae are proof of a bred and laying queen.

    Relax. The bees know what they're doing, even if you don't. You'll learn quickly.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Oceanside, New York
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Egg laying cells

    Thanks so much for the reply, very helpful. I am off to my first bee meeting tonight at a local club. Hope to garner additional info there. Hopefully this weekend I'll get a chance to better examine a few of the top bars. I just built a stand for the bars last night, and can't wait to try it out! larry

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