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I've already learned a few new things in the last couple of days on this board and some of the pages linked from it. I was wondering if someone could walk me through the normal distribution of food/brood in a hive. I understand that the broodnest is in the center, but beyond that, I'm not sure what I should be looking for to spot anomolies. Like:
  • Is it normal for there to be pollen and nectar above or below the brood, or are they normally most of a frame?
  • Do drone cells tend to be consolidated on one frame or scattered amongst the broodnest? How many drone cells is normal?
  • Are queen cups always located at the bottom of the frame, and if so, does that also mean that any filled cups are swarm cells?

Thanks so much!
 

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Is it normal for there to be pollen and nectar above or below the brood, or are they normally most of a frame?
Yes, it's normal for there to be pollen/nectar above the brood, and it's normal for there to be entire frames of nectar/pollen.

Do drone cells tend to be consolidated on one frame or scattered amongst the broodnest? How many drone cells is normal?
Depends and depends. When using foundation, I've found drone cells to be scattered around. When foundationless, it seems that drone cells are grouped somewhat. As for how many, depends on the season - more in the spring, less as the summer goes on.

Are queen cups always located at the bottom of the frame, and if so, does that also mean that any filled cups are swarm cells?
Queen cups can be anywhere, swarm cells usually hang from the bottom of frames. A filled cup means they are making a new queen, either for supercedure or to swarm.

Keep in mind that for all these things, there is a great deal of variability. While "normal" may happen more often than not, deviations don't necessarily mean "anomoly".
 

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  • Do drone cells tend to be consolidated on one frame or scattered amongst the broodnest? How many drone cells is normal?
Drone cells are typically scattered through out the hive. Sometimes you will notice that they will build mostly drone cells when they rebuild a damaged section of comb. I've also noticed that with foundationless they tend to build drone cells in areas furthest from the entrance. I'm not sure if that's typical, just something I've noticed with mine.
 
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