Crocus Hive Inspection 4-25-12 – The Uncapping Of The Drones

Hive Inspection 4-25-12

This is an online version of my hive inspection notes.  More descriptive posts about this hive can be found on the Crocus Hive page. 

The weather has been seasonable but rainy and windy and the bees have not been out much the past 3-4 days.  It was sunny, windy and 54 degrees when I opened the hive.  The girls were taking orientation flights and were somewhat agitated.   I had to smoke them to look at the hive. I saw yellow and orange pollen (I think this is Dandelion) coming into the hive.  The hive was buzzing loudly.  I was worried about their food supply after the rain and also concerned the bees may be getting ready to swarm since the hive is filled with bees and swarm season is underway.  Friends hives nearby have swarmed this past week which is earlier than normal for this area. Since my hives are in a suburban environment I need to prevent them from swarming as much as possible.  So I needed to do a quick check.

When I opened the box there were plenty of bees.  The honey super had not been touched at all.   The entire top box except two frames was filled completely on both sides with capped brood.  The other frames were empty.

The top box is filled with capped brood in frames 2-9.

The bottom box had 1 frame of capped honey, plus maybe half a frame of honey combined on all the other frames. There was little nectar and a tiny amount eggs and larvae. One frame was full of capped brood. The rest of the frames were empty. There was no pollen in the hive, although they were bringing plenty in. 

Drones cells were on the bottom of three frames. Some of the drones cells were uncapped. I think I may have bumped some pulling the frame out and accidentally uncapped them, but there were a few other drones cells which were uncapped that the bees appeared to be chewing open. They were very also cranky and kept flying at me the entire time I was in the hive, which is not normal for them. While trying to get a picture of a frame I got stung on my finger – it was my fault because I smushed the bee by mistake. That’s what I get for not wearing gloves. It was my first sting of the year! I hope it’s the last.

One of the three frames with drones on the bottom.

Close up of the drone cells.

Some of the drones on this side are uncapped but I think this was my fault. When I removed the frame I may have bumped them. A few of the drones on the other frames appeared to have been uncapped by the bees, it looked like the bees were chewing them out. If I didn't get stung I would have taken a picture of that too!

It was alarming the bees appeared to be uncapping drone brood. This means they are going into starvation mode.  When there is not enough food, they ditch the drones.  So much for the fruit bloom or my bees ability to get at it!  When I removed their one and only frame of honey to look at it they got very perturbed.   The rain must have been hard on them the last few days.  Hungry bees are cranky bees!

I think they ramped up too quickly with brood during the really warm weather and then the return to the cold and rainy weather left them without enough stores. I think the queen knows it too because there were so few eggs and larvae in the hive.  With all that capped brood hatching soon the hive will almost double in size and they should be able to get all the pollen and nectar they need.  I may move a frame of capped brood to one of the package hives to lesson the stress on these bees, but I haven’t decided yet.  I also really don’t want to feed them and need to be careful I don’t feed them so much they back fill the cells with syrup and swarm.  There is food out there and they should be getting it. Besides, what they really need is pollen.    I would rather feed the bees then let them starve, however, so I decided to give them a quart of syrup, see if they take it, and remove the honey super for a few days if they start to (so they don’t store it there).  The weather is going to clear up so I’ll skip the pollen patty supplement.  Hopefully that will get them through the hump, the rain stops and they will be foraging again soon!

Box Breakdown

Honey Super – Empty and undrawn.

Top box – Frame 1 empty. Frames 2-9 filled entirely with capped brood. Frame 10 empty.

Bottom Box – Frame 1 capped honey. Frame 2 half filled with nectar. Frame 3-4 empty. Frame 4 one quarter filled with eggs and larvae.  Frame 5 capped brood. Frame 6 about a quarter filled with eggs and larvae.  Frames 7-10 are empty.

My previous inspection can be found here.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

  1. Bee Package Installation – Don’t Forget The Cork!
  2. First Honey Super Of The Year Added To Crocus Hive 4-16-12
  3. Hive Check 4-13-12
  4. Crocus Hive Check 4-4-12
  5. First Spring Hive Inspection Of An Overwintered Colony – March 12, 2012

Author: Anita Deeley

Anita Deeley is a biologist and former state bee inspector who maintains 100 honey bee hives. She is the beekeeper, writer, owner and creator of BeverlyBees.com. When she is not spending time with her girls (the bees), she enjoys being a wife to her beekeeping cohort, Brian and mother to 3 little boys (the beekeepers in training). Read more about Anita here >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Connect with Anita on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Facebook here.

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