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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I broke into the hive to do the spring inspection this afternoon. The hive I inspected is just starting its second year and is really strong--bees on almost every frame of two deep boxes and the honey super I left on over the winter. So, when I was removing frames from the top deep box to look at them there was comb that was attached to the box below it that I didnt see until after I removed the frames. When I removed the frames the comb broke and larva spilled out--in one instance some white brood spilled out. Now, what has me a bit worried is that a couple of these attached comb areas looked a little more bulbous than normal comb and I am worried that the hive is about the swam and I killed the new queen cell. Did I just mess things up on a colony that is about to swarm or am I worrying about nothing. Anyway--lots of brood and food in there but this attached comb issue has me a bit worried. I went ahead and reversed the boxes while I was in there as the bottom box had a tiny amount of capped brood but mostly honey and pollen. Anyway--thanks for the information--I appreciate it.
 

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It could go either way. Bees tend to make a lot of drone brood between the frames of one box and another. It is common to expose those larvae when removing frames. It is also common for the bees to start swarm queen cells at the bottom of frames and they eventually become attached to the frames beneath. When pulling frames it is impossible to avoid damaging some of those. When they are hell bent on swarming they tend to make a goodly number of those swarm cells and usually, with careful handling, some will survive.
It is always a comfort to find the queen in these instances to assure one’s self that they are still queenright. The other thing to look for are eggs. If you see eggs….then all is still well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I didnt see anything else in the hive that remotely resembled the queen cells I have seen in pictures so hopefully all is well and I just killed a few drones. I guess I will just let it ride and see in a few weeks. There were lots of the worm looking larva in there-I still havent figured out the looking for eggs thing. Something to work on this year I guess.
Thanks a lot for the response.
 

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Well--It was the first 70 degree day of the year and I thought you were supposed to do a big inspection in the spring. I knew there were a bunch of bees in there and I was a bit worried about swarming. I did a bunch of research and a lot of it said to flip the boxes if there was no brood in the bottom box--which there really wasn't--maybe a few drone cells in the far top center--so I flipped them.
 

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In my experience, drone cells between the frames are usually horizontal and packed together closely, while queen cells are usually vertically oriented and a few inches apart.

Even if you did destroy some queen cells they probably had others or can make more, as beemandan suggested.

I look for eggs during every inspection because it's easier than finding the queen. Usually the brood will be sorted by age in concentric arcs so that the eggs will be just outside the youngest larvae and just inside a band of empty cells or pollen.

Sometimes I'll settle for seeing very young larvae. For example, this image from Randy Oliver's site has young enough and healthy enough larvae that I might not worry about finding actual eggs. This colony can't have been queenless for more than 3 days, so if you're only inspecting once every couple weeks you're not that likely to catch a problem earlier by noticing there's very young larvae but no eggs. There should be other signs of swarming or queen failure anyway.

Wet-brood-2.jpg
 

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Keep it simple. Rearranging the hive is okay if you’re sure why you’re doing it. Because somebody said to is generally not a good enough reason. Bees have been arranging their own brood and food for some time now. With bees, less is usually more, and most of us wish we’d learned that a little earlier than we did. It’s a journey. Inspecting hives is a great way to learn about bees, but it’s risky, and a lot of colonies have been doomed by a rolled queen or by accidentally or intentionally removing or tearing out capped queen cells after the queen is dead, swarmed, injured, or failing.

If your inspection was to learn about bees, go for it. If it was to see if there was a queen, you would likely know that as soon as you pulled a frame or two from the middle of your top box and saw brood. Cfalls described it well in the preceding post. If your plan was to locate and remove queen cells, that’s risky business, and you would want to have a pretty detailed plan about what to do once you found one or ten for that matter. You may have had a plan. If swarm prevention is your goal, I’d recommend that you read Walt Wright’s articles here on Besource. By the time there are queen cells, the horse may already be out of the barn.

(How many trite sayings can you identify in the above two paragraphs.)
 

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As a new beekeeper last year, I recommend regular inspections. I learned so much about the progression of hive development. We inspected almost every week. My technique has also improved, the bees have a way of letting you know if they don't like your technique. now I can tell if my hive is queen rights in about 2 minutes. It seems like you are hesitant working the hive and identifying queen cell. I recomend more regular hive inspections, they are fun and you will learn something every time. Last weekend I found my first wax moth larva. Practice told me 4 of the brood cells looked funny. I wouldn't have noticed last year.
 

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You are fine and I agree with reversing the boxes. That was very likely drone brood, I see it all the time. Keep on inspecting as it is the best way to learn for the new beek!
 

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Mike Palmer says this is a great way to check for varroa mites. When you see expose drone pupa in-between frames look to see if they have mites on them.
 
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