First Hive Inspection 2021

I get a package every year to stay in tune with my students. This year, I installed a 3 pound package on a chilly, windy day. It came with a queen that was placed with the package for 48 hours, meaning that I could direct release her (as opposed to delay release with a marshmallow after 3 – 5 days). She has a nice, long, black body:

These bees were poured into a deep box that contained side to side: a feeder of 1:1 syrup, one frame that was up to half-drawn comb, 4 frames of drawn comb, 1 frame of foundation (no comb), and the remaining space is drawn comb. Because I cannot predict the weather, but knowing that this day was too cold for the bees to forage, I placed a medium of honey from a deadout above this.

I went to inspect the colony one week later. I was expecting to find: eggs and larvae, some drowned bees in the syrup, the queen and workers. I figured some syrup would be gone with the cool weather, but no rain means nectar and pollen would be available should any foragers leave the shelter of the hive. And the honey would be competing with the syrup. I assume that a caged queen is raring to lay as soon as possible.

Before opening the hive, I had to walk up to it. I try to time my inspections for a time when the bees will be busy and not care that I’m around. This means I avoid dusk (when they come in to roost), and aim for foragers to be out. (If they care that I’m around and it’s not September, then they’re likely queenless.) Here is what I saw:

This is the hive that got the package. I have my entrance reducer set to the smallest hole and the bees’ traffic pattern affirms that I am indeed using the smallest hole. I could also see pollen on the legs of a few, so I knew they were foraging. When I removed the lid, I set it upside down on the ground and looked at the medium that I had left them. I wasn’t sure if the bees would be into the honey, so I was pleased to find many bees covering four frames in the honey super. (Side note: My practice of rotating comb means that I have 3 frames of bare foundation in the honey super, too. I put the bare foundation above the frames that will be used for brood in the deep box below.) All looked good and I set the medium box on the inverted lid. I moved on to the deep box, which is where I poured the bees and released the queen last week.

I removed one of the frames of bare foundation to give me room to comfortably slide the remaining frames around. I found the queen right away on the outermost frame of drawn comb. I moved her then shook the frame once to get the majority of the clinging bees into the box to inspect all the frames of drawn comb. I was hoping to see eggs and larvae sitting in wet milky cells of royal jelly. If the queen had laid on 4/10/2021 as day 1, I would not see capped brood today (but I may see cappings if I were to check the next day). Here is what I saw:

This looks fantastic. Additionally, the pattern she laid was generally spiral or concentric, so I feel good about the queen. I was not expecting and did not see drones and newly drawn comb. The weather has been cold and she still had one more frame to fill with eggs before comb would be urgently needed.

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