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I am a new beekeeper in northern NJ. After receiving my first nuc, I put the five frames of the nuc in the middle of the super. since that time, the bees have become active and thriving, and now honey is dripping down from the combs. But the hive has not grown: it still consists of the five starter frames. Why haven't the bees spread to the other five frames in the super? Why have they not moved upwards to establish comb in the super above? Also, I have not found the queen. So it would be helpful to have input on how I can determine whether I actually have a queen or not. Some pictures follow.

bee1.jpg bee2.jpg bee3.jpg justvisiting.jpg
 

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Honey normally does not drip down from combs except when you break some. How old is the colony? Are you feeding? Is there a flow on? Did you add extra wax to plastic foundations if you are using that?
 

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I see capped brood and what looks like maybe larvae. Can you see small larvae or eggs in the open cells?
 

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If you have 5 unfilled frames in the lower box, it might be an idea to take off the upper box until they need it. Too much space is hard for the bees to control hive temperature.
 

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I can't tell from your pics but since you have capped brood over several frames I'm guessing you have a queen. Are you feeding? It takes young bees and nectar or syrup for them to get rolling. So let us know what you are doing?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Couple of problems. Foremost, you have too much space in the hive. Remove the top box (super) and leave only the lower box (brood chamber). The hive does not appear to be packed with bees. That will change quickly once the capped brood begins to emerge. You are using plastic foundation with little or no wax on it. The bees are already drawing some wonky comb on the backside of the frame in picture 4. You need to cut that off as they will not "fix" it. If it were me, I would pop the plastic foundation out of two of the frames and put in a starter strip. Place those two frames next to the frames with brood on them but do not split the brood nest . Fondationless comb, even if you do not want it, is better than fin comb on plastic. There are numerous threads here on using and making foundationless frames. Make a ball out of the little bit of wax you cut off and rub it on the remaing three plastic frames to add some wax to them. Finally, your flow should be starting, but I would put a feeder on the bees anyhow. Making wax takes a lot of carbs, as does raising brood. Make it easy for them. They won't take it if they don't need it.
 

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Hey JW, I missed the wonky shadows.
Let me throw in a welcome. I am not sure of your set up when you speak of a super. Did you put the nuc frames in a 5 frame nuc or a ten frame box? Single story or two story?

When did you do install?
 

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Sage advice already given. A great video I would recommend is called Comb Building on YouTube from University of Guelph.
 

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You asked how to get them to expand. What they are in now matters.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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What did the nuc look like? Number of frames of capped brood, honey and pollen stores etc. You have plenty of capped brood so the queen is laying, but at five weeks in, they should have just about filled the other five frames in the brood box, unless they REALLY don't like the plastic. You have been feeding, syrup and pollen patty, right?
 

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I picked up the nuc on April 9th, so I've had it now for about 5 weeks.
If you have had it for 5 weeks, then there was a laying queen in there a couple weeks ago for sure, reference all the capped brood.

Cant say for sure about some things as I'm not clear, is the amount of bees on those frames what they were when you pulled it up, or, is it after you shook some off ? The frames do not look like a lot of bees, looks more like an absolute minimum number of bees for those frames.

Gong thru the photos. Number one, some capped and what looks to be a lot of emerged around that, with a honey border. Check in the uncapped cells there, that's where I would expect to find eggs and lavae. Photo 2. That's a nice frame of capped brood. Photo 4, agree with otheres, looks like they have a start on some wonky comb there, you dont want that to continue. It's very important when dealing with undrawn frames to make sure they are pushed together tightly, otherwise wonky comb like that shows up all to often.

Photo 3 is the interesting one for me. The frame itself is a mix of capped drone, worker, pollen and honey cells. My experience over time, once a frame gets like that with pollen intermixed between brood the way that one is, they never fix it, and I try cycle them out over time.

I downloaded the photo to take a closer look, would be very helpful to have a higher resolution copy, this one is fairly low resolution and appears slightly blurry when you blow it up. On the far right side, about 1/3 of the way down the frame appears to be a queen. It's not quite clear enough to be positive, but I believe you have a queen in that photo. The thorax looks like a queen, but the abdomen doesn't appear to be as long as the wings. Might be a queen with her butt stuck into a cell trying to lay an egg, or, it could be a virgin queen, and I'm hedging to say it's a young virgin queen.

So based on limited knowledge, my thoughts are that this colony has swarmed, based on the low population and presence of what appears to be a virgin queen. Population will explode when that frame of capped brood emerges, and that's when the bees will finally start to get serious about building some comb.

Agree with others, get the second box off until you have bees on 8 drawn frames if it's a 10 frame box.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks, this is great advice. I will remove the upper box and take off the "wonky comb." Regarding the foundation, I am still dithering a bit about how to proceed. It sounds as though you're recommending a combination of foundationless frames and waxing my plastic frames. I have read that foundation less frames can be challenging for new beekeepers due to cross comb that may fall off when you remove the frame for inspection. Perhaps an alternate course would be to melt down a beeswax candle or some burr comb and use it to coat the plastic foundation?

I stopped feeding the hive after two weeks, thinking that they no longer needed it after the neighborhood began blooming in earnest. Based on the advice I'm getting here, that was premature, so I will set up the mason jar feeder again.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Photo 3 is the interesting one for me. The frame itself is a mix of capped drone, worker, pollen and honey cells. My experience over time, once a frame gets like that with pollen intermixed between brood the way that one is, they never fix it, and I try cycle them out over time.
Can you explain what is wrong with the frame in picture 3, and what I should do about it? I included this picture in part because it looked strange and I wasn't sure what I was seeing.
 

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I have read that foundation less frames can be challenging for new beekeepers

You have some straight frames from the nuc, that's a start. The partial frame drawn poorly on the backside should go in between 2 good frames as far outside as you have bees to cover. Looking at capped you will have more bees shortly. Feed yes but not so fast that you flood the brood nest.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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On the far right side, about 1/3 of the way down the frame appears to be a queen. It's not quite clear enough to be positive, but I believe you have a queen in that photo. The thorax looks like a queen, but the abdomen doesn't appear to be as long as the wings. Might be a queen with her butt stuck into a cell...
Good eye. I believe you may be right. I looked earlier but did not pick her out. The thorax sure LOOKS like a queen's.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Right side of frame. From the top, um, bottom of the frame, count down five bees and over three. Cannot see abdomen so can't say for sure. Thorax is darker and more pronounced than other bees on the frame.
 
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