Re: Nucs? Trouble with my new hive?
That does appear to be your queen, although the perspective is hard to tell for sure. When you see the queen from the top (looking down on her as a bird would) her abdomen is distinctively longer. I like the digital dot! I was concerned at first because it is the wrong color. This year is yellow. I was going to inquire if it was digital since it looked so crisp. One trick to looking for you queen, is to look for bees in a rosette pattern. The worker bees will all be facing the queen. You don't always see this, but if you do, it is again, a very easy way to find her. These are all things that you will gain an eye for over time. I still struggle to find my queen, and she has a bright yellow dot on her back!
I should have stated the slump in bee numbers in my first response. This is very normal, and nothing to worry about. You have to understand that in the time that it takes the first brood to hatch out, a lot of bees will die of old age. So you will see a slump, and then a boom. The yellowed comb is a sign that bees have hatched out. You will note a consistent darkening of the comb over time. Each time a larva pupates, it spins a very thin cocoon inside the cell. Over time these will build up, until such a time where the comb is dark brown to black. It is good practice to periodically remove and dispose of this older comb. If nothing else it just serves as a house cleaning, as the old comb may harbor disease. It would be like burning lice infected clothing (gross analogy, but I think effective).
The capped honey at the top of each bar is perfectly normal. Ideally the bees will fill the top of the comb in an arch shape with stores. Just below the honey will be a thin band of pollen, and the rest will be brood. Again, this is ideal. I note the honey to be pretty regular in my hive, but the pollen seems to get tossed around wherever it will fit. You want to at least look for a good tight brood pattern on the comb. If you notice spotty brood, like a shotgun pattern, then you have issues. Possibly just a disorganized queen, but it can be indicative of bigger problems looming. It's perfectly normal to see some drone comb (notable by it's high dome capping) but mostly what you should see is the less domed worker brood. The bees will naturally raise as few drones as possible. But if your hive is very strong, and carries good genetics, you may notice more drones. That's good in that you are helping the local bee populations by mating good drones with other queens. However, if you notice excessive drone comb, then you have either an unfertilized queen, or laying workers (infertile eggs). Laying workers are a very serious and difficult to combat problem. The bright side is, your queen can't become unfertilized. Unless she lives so long that she literally runs out of sperm from her initial mating flight. I don't know if queens will make a new mating flight, but I don't believe so. In a feral hive, as a queen becomes weak and slows down her laying ability, the hive will supersede here and raise a new young vibrant queen. Most commercial beekeepers will systematically re-queen their hives once a year (I believe in the fall) to prevent any issues of the queen getting old and lazy on them.
As for drone brood, I have noticed my queen seems to put it out in batches, which I see to be a decision that she makes, and I see it as a smart, orderly queen. At first I saw very little drone brood, and then all of sudden there was a patch of drone brood about 2" in diameter smack in the middle of one comb. I thought about cutting it out for IPM, but I have a varroa resistant queen and have not seen enough signs (any for that matter) of varroa to see the need. Obviously the queen was proud enough of her hive that she felt comfortable putting out some drones instead of workers. Once all those drones hatched out, that same comb was re-laid with worker brood. To me that was an astonishing sign of what bees will do when given the natural option to do what they choose is best.
In other news, I harvested one bar of comb this past weekend, 3.25 lbs, and sold out in my first day back at work! People love the stuff. And everyone has questions, which is great since I love to talk about the girls!
One package to 4 hives in 3 months. After 12 months I'm over a dozen hives and growing. Head over heels for bees!!!