Busy As a Bee

A quick update on the bees. We did our first inspection yesterday. The bees look good, and saw two of the three queens. The Langstroth boxes didn’t seem so full as to warrant a second box, and the top bar hive was amazing. Here are some pictures.

R1 Queen

The queen of our first Russian hive on Apr 26, 2015. The green dot means she is a 2014 queen (from the Fall, according to our supplier). This was the first time we’d seen the queen on our frames, so was very exciting.

We smoked the first hive (the Russians on the left of our three hives) and the bees did quite well. The smoker went out, so we didn’t bother smoking the second Russian hive, and perhaps this is why these bees got a little feisty. We never did find the queen on this hive. Both Russian hives had lots of capped brood, and some capped drones at the base of some comb. Most of this came with the nuc, so not sure if the queens are laying or not in these hives. The nights have been cold, so perhaps the queen is waiting for warmer weather. The brood should start hatching this week.

S with TBH Frame

Our first comb from our top bar hive on Apr 26, 2015. From a piece of wood with a thin wooden bar as a guide, the bees built this comb with no foundation. Pure, natural wax comb straight from the bees. There were three combs built out, as lovely as this one. The indent at the bottom is likely to leave an easy path to the boardman feeder full of sugar syrup at the front of the hive.

The top bar hive was just amazing. We lit the smoker again to give a few puffs at the entrance. Then we removed the cover and pulled a couple (empty) bars from the middle of the hive. We then slide bars back until we found bees. The bees were literally linked together, hanging from the bars. They do this as they make wax to lay out the comb across an area, I’ll have to take a picture next time. We could hear the bees pull apart as we separated them.

Then we reached the fourth bar in and could see a small area of comb they were working on.  The next three bars had complete comb hanging down. To think that the bees had made this in just one week. Amazing! I took some pictures of the front comb, one of which is shown here.

After closing up the hives and putting everything away, we shared the pictures with my lovely wife and oldest daughter (who was visiting). Some great pictures of us and the bees. I zoomed in on the top bar hive frame to look more closely at the bees, and to my surprise found the queen. I created a cutout from the prior picture so you too can see her.

TBH Queen

The queen! (Apr 26, 2015). After we closed up the hives I zoomed in on this picture and happened to spot the queen at the base of the comb. You can just make out the blue dot on her back, indicating she’s a 2015 queen.

A great first inspection, I have to say. We didn’t see any eggs or larva, but if some exist we should start seeing larva next week (it takes 3-4 days for an egg to hatch, then another 5 or so days before the larva is grown and the bees cap the comb). We also have to keep an eye on the Russian hives, as those young bees will hatch this week and create a very full box.

Go Bees!


Our title is an old English idiom that traces back to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century. Busy as a bee, of course, means you are very busy. Given how active our bees have been despite the cool weather this week, it seemed quite appropriate.

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