So far, I had done a check at 3 and 10 days after install. I have been watching for the various stages of developing bees as a check on how my queens are doing and whether that had started off nicely. Here are the stages of a worker bee development, and how long they are (+\- a day or so):
- 3 days as an egg
- 6 days as a larva
- Cell capped at day 9
- 12 days as a pupa (in capped cell)
- Worker emerges at ~day 21
At 3 days post install, I removed some burr comb and later found eggs in it (I haven’t seen them while doing a inspection at the hive – they are very small). This means that my queens were laying by at least day 3, probably a little sooner (I’m guessing day 2). At 10 days post install, I saw larva but no capped cells yet. Since I had eggs at day 3, they should start to be capped at day 12 at the latest (day 11 if laying started on day 2). When I came to check on the hives today (day 17), I should definitely have capped brood. If not, something went wrong.
With good intentions, I decided to start with hive #2 since I hadn’t done a full inspection of it yet. The feeder was dry, but I hadn’t brought any sugar syrup. I’ll have to refill it later. I first noticed that there was now comb out to the 7th top-bar. In addition, bars 1-6 looked much fuller (getting close to covering the full bar width (19″). I pulled bars 7-5, and found capped brood on bar 5. At this point, I could see that top-bar 4 had a lot more brood, but I also noticed a bit of attachment of comb 4 to the side of the hive. I had been meaning to bring a hack-saw blade (or something else long and thin) to cut any attachments to the sides, but kept forgetting. It was a small attachment, maybe 1/2-1″. I was hesitant to try to cut it with my hive tool though. The hive tool is relatively blunt and thicker than I would want for cutting attachments. I was afraid of making a mess, and decided not to open the hive further. After checking hive #1, I realized that I could have easily cut the attachment, but oh well. I’ll explain that later. Here are top-bars 7-5. You can see a almost heart shaped patch of brood on comb 5. I also tried to take a picture of the attachment of comb 4, but it didn’t really turn out.
I went ahead and close up hive #2 and moved over to hive #1. Hive #1 had also emptied its feeder, and had built out to top-bar #7. I am still amazed how even these to hives are in their build up. As you’ll see, their combs and brood almost seem to match. Here are combs 7-5 from hive #1.
Interestingly, just like hive #2, the first top-bar to have brood in it is #5. They even have roughly the same amount of brood and in a similar heart shaped patch. There was one difference though. Hive #1 had started building a little bit of a curve in their comb. The left edge of their comb was starting to cross onto the neighboring top-bar. It wasn’t much, but when I removed top-bar #5 it pulled a little on the edge of comb #4 (bending it a little more). It wasn’t bad, but I wanted to try and get it straightened out. Here is Comb #4.
I used my hive tool to cut the attachment to the top-bar a little and then tried to push the corner of the comb back in line. It mangled the comb a little, but I was able to straighten the comb reasonably. Luckily, the comb in that area just had nectar in it, and the bees went right to work licking up the small mess I made. As you can see, there is a nice amount of capped brood in comb #4 (in all cases, the capped brood is on both sides of the comb). I also noticed that comb #3 had a small attachment to the side of the hive (1/2-1″ like the attachment in hive #2). Since I wanted to try to straighten the comb and not let it get worse, I went ahead and cut the attachment with my hive tool. It actually worked surprisingly well, and didn’t make much of a mess. I also cut and pushed the corner of comb #3 and #2 back straight.
Both combs #2 and #3 have a nice amount of capped brood. I’m not experienced, but I thought they looked nice. If my guess about the egg laying starting on day 2, I think they should start hatching at day 24 (day 25 at the latest since there were eggs on day 3). That means I should be getting new bees about a week from today. 🙂
I noticed a couple of interesting things. First, I clearly saw one capped drone cell in amount the brood on comb #2. It stood out and was quite clear. Second, I saw a number of bees on different combs doing their waggle dance to communicate the location of either nectar or pollen to other foraging bees. It was interesting to see. It really makes me want to get an observation hive. Third, the first comb (#1) seemed to be chosen by the bees as the pollen storage comb. It didn’t have any brood, and I wonder if this was due to its proximity to the entrance. It was nice to see that they had pollen though.