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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default drones at entrance

    I am a very new beekeeper--we installed our first bees in a top bar hive beginning of april. Today I noticed drones coming and going and hanging around the hive. This is the first time I have seen drones.

    From what I have read this could be several things (if I am understanding correctly)
    1. they could be heading to the drone congregating area
    2. getting ready to swarm
    3 queen could be making drones only
    4. supersede due to ill queen
    5. hive could be queenless

    More details--they have 12 bars in the hive, 6 have full comb on them and they are working on bar 7 & 8.

    I plan to go observe them more tomorrow. I was thinking of opening it up on Monday to add more bars, look for brood/drone comb & investigate further. If you could give me specifics as to what to look for during the next inspection that would be great--I just don't want to overlook anything.

    Thanks so much

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    711

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    What you have is very likely normal. However, you won't know until you open them up and inspect. Make sure to check for capped brood, eggs, and larva. If you have this, you have a queen. Also, check for queen cells. If they have queen cells, they are either replacing their queen or are getting ready to swarm. Check for drone brood (it is much larger and the cap bulges out over the worker brood, it is usually in clusters). If you have ALL drone brood, you have a problem. If you have ~30% or less drone brood, sleep easy.

    Good luck!
    Try it. What could happen?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,649

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    Here is a visual comparison of drone brood vs worker brood:


    Image from: http://vtrusticmoose.com/wp/?attachment_id=388

    The raised caps in the center are drone brood, capped worker cells are to the right side of the photo, and are flatter.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    Thanks so much --the photo is so helpful & the checklist of what to look for too. I was feeling a bit overwelmed--the more I read the less I knew. I appreciate the info! We will open it up tomorrow & see what is what

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    711

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    the more I read the less I knew
    You better get used to that if you plan to stick with beekeeping.
    Try it. What could happen?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Sacramento, CA,USA
    Posts
    46

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    Quote Originally Posted by bcotton View Post
    ..... I was feeling a bit overwelmed--the more I read the less I knew.
    Quote Originally Posted by JStinson View Post
    You better get used to that if you plan to stick with beekeeping.
    I'm glad that's not just me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    I'm glad to know it is not just me too

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    Well we just opened it up & saw lots of capped brood, some capped drone brood, but not too much. We then saw a queen cell--which was really exciting/scary. So I think that they are replacing the queen. We didn't see a queen (but I didn't really look too hard). And we didn't see any eggs, but I could be overlooking them I was so shocked by the queen cell--I didn't look too hard after that.

    There was a whole in the bottom of the queen cell & I could see a bee in there moving around (the new queen I guess). We put it back in and closed up after that--as we didn't want her to come out --outside of the hive and get lost & I wasn't sure if there was going to be a fight between the old queen and the new.

    We did give them more bars so they should have enough space. There was only 1 queen cell. I don't feel like they are looking to swarm as they had plenty of room (I think).

    Anyway everytime I open the hive I learn a lot, but realize that I still don't know anything!!! I need a top bar hive beekeeper who makes house calls

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    P1180056.JPGP1180057.JPGP1180058.JPG Here are some photos--although you can't see much.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    trying to post some photos of the queen cell, but not having much luck--here is one more try at the photos:
    P1180056.JPGP1180057.JPGP1180058.JPG

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Brownsburg, IN
    Posts
    56

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    Quote Originally Posted by bcotton View Post
    And we didn't see any eggs, but I could be overlooking them I was so shocked by the queen cell--I didn't look too hard after that.
    I had trouble seeing eggs too. they are like tiny grains of rice...SUPER tiny!! I did not see them in new comb until I was shiling a flashlight through from behind. They could be just building queen cell for preparedness. I understand that they usually have one or two ready on stand-by, think I read that somewhere in here...

    KB

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN USA
    Posts
    685

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    It isn't super-unusual to see a queen cell or two in a hive, they often like to keep a few spares around just in case. I wouldn't be overly worried unless there were a bunch of queen cells, which would indicate they are getting ready to swarm.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,456

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    If a "queen cell" is open and vacant (mature bees don't count), it's called a queen cup, and most hives have a few here and there, unused. Russian bees tend to have several to many, and take them down and put them back up all the time, but as long as they are not capped or occupied by a larva, you can ignore them. They like to make them on new wax, it's much easier than chewing out old wax with lots of propolis in it.

    Drones are normal, and in a new hive a good sign since the bees won't make any unless they are well fed and happy. However, even if they don't make any you will get some as the drones will go to any hive, not just the one they came from, and the bees will almost always let them in.

    Things look good! That fresh comb sure is pretty, but I'm quite fond of the old dark stuff I'm collecting -- doesn't break easily and swarms LOVE it.

    Peter

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    I am going to try to get better at taking my time and really looking for eggs--we usually have our 3 & 6 year old with us so I "think" I need to hurry/be efficient before the loose interest. That is good to know that queen cups are normal--there was definately someone in our queen cell. We will just have to wait & see what they do--they are such interesting little thing!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Fenton, MI
    Posts
    200

    Default Re: drones at entrance

    Don't the drones normally fly in and out as they please? I hope they do because that's what they are doing in my new hive.

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