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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Did I lose my queen and other newbie questions?

    Hi- I'm a new bee guardian and I'm trying to figure out what's happening with my hive. Maybe it's completely normal, but I feel like something is off.

    Here's a little timeline for you...please let me know what you think.
    May 4th: Swarm installed. Quickly started building comb.
    May 10th: Hot day--one comb fell and I removed it the next morning. They had already begun to rebuild the comb. (now I have a little double comb on this bar--should I remove the extra comb?)
    May 21st: I moved the hive about 30 miles. Move was uneventful and only lost a few bees.
    May 30th: Up until this day, everything seemed to be going well. They built comb out on about half of the bars, good activity every day, bees coming back with pollen, etc. This day, however, something was wrong. My parents checked on the hive before I got home and said it was very windy and a large cluster of bees was on the backside of the hive. I went back to check on them later and I could tell something was wrong. There were bees that looked like they were wandering aimlessly around the outside of the hive. Some on the house nearby and many dead or dying on the ground. Everyday, I've noticed guard bees at the entrance, but today, no activity at the entrance and not a lot of buzzing.There was also a small cluster of bees on the underneath backside of the hive.
    May 31: Lots of dead bees from the previous night. Still no guard bees, but more normal activity. I went into the hive to look for the queen. I started in the back and tried my best to differentiate the types of comb, but since I'm new, I don't exactly know what I'm looking at. The closer to the front I got, the more agitated the bees became. I had to close it up before I looked at the final 2-3 combs.

    I went out of town for a few days and came back yesterday. There are a LOT of guards/bees at the entrance to the hive. They have continued to build new comb and there are lots of bees coming and going with pollen. I'm wondering....did I lose my queen? How would I confirm? What do I do now...? Or is this completely normal cycle of life? How often should I be going into the hive and how important is it that I know what different types of comb are being built?

    I know that's a million questions, but I'm just trying to figure out if I need to intervene or if they will work this out. Thank you in advance.

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

    Default Re: Did I lose my queen and other newbie questions?

    Hey,
    move your crooked comb to the very edge if you want to save it for now. if the crooked comb is in the middle they will build a crooked one next to it.

    You probably haven't lost your queen. Do an inspection and look for eggs or larvae. These are good signs.
    If your queen was gone then the rest of the bees would take an egg and make a queen with it. You would be able to see a queen cell though.

    Queens are hard to spot sometimes, I opened my hive 4 or 5 times before I saw her.

    the collection of bees may have something to do with them trying to control temperature. was it cold or possibly windy?

    as far as what type of comb... they will have multi-comb at first with brood in the middle and honey or nectar on the perimeter. there will be drone brood sprinkled in the perimeter too. combs near the entrance will more than likely hold pollen to be moved further in the hive by other bees. it will probably be a while before you have an all honey comb. patience is overrated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: Did I lose my queen and other newbie questions?

    Hi! I'm new to this too, so I completely understand not knowing what you are looking for/supposed to be seeing. Snapping some pictures when making my inspections has really been helping me. That is how I spotted the bee eggs the first time.

    At first when my bees started making comb they stored the pollen in the middle, which they then moved to be in a band between the brood and the honey stores. The pollen was covered with honey making it look like light brown to tannish goo (bee-bread). Embarrassingly, I thought this was larva at first. (Now that I've seen larva I marvel at how I could have been so wrong.) The eggs look like tiny rice grains standing straight up in the bottom center of the comb cells. My queen tends to start laying them in the middle of the comb. The larva look like white grubs, in a shiny milky white fluidy substance at first. When they are ready to pupate the cells get capped with off-white cappings on mine. Flattish for workers. The capped honey at the top of the bars is white on mine, but i understand that is depedant on the bees and whether they make dry or wet cappings. I can post some pictures if you like. I have a really good one of the eggs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Did I lose my queen and other newbie questions?

    Thanks Colleen and Keefis- I went into the hive last night. Quite and adventure--I don't smoke my bees so it's always an adventure!

    The good news is that I found a ton of recently laid eggs and brood. I have a queen (even though I didn't see her)! The bad news is my hive was a bigger mess than I imagined. I had three bars that were connected by overlapping comb. I removed the extra comb from two of them, which then resulted in the center comb falling into the hive. I hadn't realized that that comb was only being supported by the other extra comb from adjacent bars. I panicked a bit, but eventually removed all of the excess comb from the hive (one full bar, and 3 smaller pieces). After I got all of the bees off the comb, I was able to dissect the comb and get a good look at the different cells.

    The large comb I removed was primarily brood in different stages, mostly worker bees with a few drones around the perimeter. Between the worker brood, I found lots of bee bread. I spent a lot of time harvesting the bee bread... Is there an easier way to do this? I used a toothpick, carefully working around the larvae. Kinda gross...I was covered in honey, nectar and the occasional larvae that fell out.

    Anyway, I think it was successful. I cleared out most of the crooked and double comb, lost a comb full of brood, but there's a lot more brood still in the hive, and learned a lot from dissecting the comb. Constantly learning... And the best part--I still haven't been stung. Victory!

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