Brood inspection with Stu, Cedar and Mira

It was a family affair today  at Flow HQ, as Cedar, Stu and Mira teamed up for a brood inspection and Q & A session. Stu talked about how the queen leaves cells as heater holes to maintain the brood temperature. The questions ranged from when to inspect the hive to when the queen stops laying.  

 


Video Transcription

Opening hive

Cedar 

Morning, so today we’re going to do some work on this hive here. We're going to take the super off and get right into the brood box and inspect the Flow Frames. If you haven't seen that before, stay tuned, we'll also be looking right in at what the bees are doing. See if we can notice anything interesting going on in the brood box below. First of all, let's give them a bit of a smoke. And what we're going to then do is take this roof off. 

If you're new to beekeeping, make sure you protect yourself first. We get a bit complacent after a while, which does mean a few stings, but it's nice to start without that. So wear your beesuit, wear your gloves, look after yourself and those around you. The next thing to do is to take the inner cover off. Actually we don't need to do that because we're taking the whole super off. We're not inspecting the Flow Frames. So we can leave that on and leave a whole of bees in this top box here, they won't be bothering us in the brood box.

Stu 

You’ll notice that we've got a queen excluder on this hive. We generally use them, but we don't always use them. If you don't have a queen excluder and you're going to pull the top box off, the queen could be up in the top. Unlikely, because she doesn't like these Flow Frames to lay in, but still, she could be out there and so you’d be removing her as well. But because there is a queen excluder, the queen will definitely be down below in the brood box.

Cedar

So a bit of a tip. If you remove this door, it creates a nice handle here to lift from.

It’s not a bad idea, if you're going gloveless, to give your hands a bit of a smoke. It just masks your own mammal smells a bit from the bees. Next thing we're going to pry the two boxes apart. So in this case, we've got to decide whether we're going to take the excluder with the super or leave the excluder behind. And sometimes you work it out a bit as you go along, depending on which side the excluder sticks to.

Stu

Generally you try and leave the queen excluder with the brood box, because again, then you'll be more sure where the queen is. If you lift the excluder with the super, sometimes it insists on going that way, that does mean that she might be clung to the bottom of the excluder and you're lifting her out again. And in that case, you have to be really careful because you could squash her when you're lifting this off and placing it somewhere. So Cedar will try to leave the excluder with the brood box, but sometimes it doesn't work out.

Cedar 

Sometimes the super can be quite heavy, get help if you need to. And I'm just going to rock it back like that. In this case, it doesn't have that much honey in it so it's fine for me to lift. I'm just going to put it down. Now, when I put it down, I'm going to lean it up against an edge so that any bees under the super don't get squashed. 

So the next thing we're doing is just having a look at what's going on. We've got a bit of comb being built above the excluder there that's pretty normal. Bees will fill any space they can find with comb inside the hive. And you can clean it up, which will make it a bit easier next time. Or you can just leave it there for the bees.

Stu 

It’s worth having a look around, you know, maybe the queen's just underneath the excluder, because that's the next thing we're going to pull off is the excluder itself. And of course you’re just looking for the general vitality of the hive at this point and how easy it's going to be to get this excluder off. So we're going to do that now, just going to lift it off. Beekeepers have preferences for different types of excluder. Some prefer the metal ones because they break off as one piece rather than peel off like this. The most important thing I think is that they're not too sharp on the edge where the bees are coming through.

Cedar 

So just remembering again on the underside there, have a quick look for the queen. You'll be surprised sometimes you'll find her there. Look at these bees drinking their own honey, see that they've got their tongues out there. They're licking up there straight away, right into cleaning up the honey. Look at this formation with them all facing inwards here. That’s neat.


Frame inspection

Stu 

Now we're going to look at just the frames and down in between the frames you can see burr comb or brace comb, it's called various things, in between them. And so it would be a mistake to try and lift a frame straight out. We're going to lift out one frame first and make room for moving frames around. And so you want to look for which one's going to be easiest to pull out without tearing up too much burr comb at first and so on. It's usually the edge ones, but not always because sometimes they're neater on the middle where they've got their brood, but in this case, it looks like it's either one of the edge ones, probably the one closest to Cedar.

It's pretty loose already. It's not hard There it is, just lifting steadily, gently out and grab underneath.

Cedar 

Look at that beautiful, I’m seeing a whole lot of different pollen across here. You can see the different colours of pollen down the cells in between the bees. There's so many bees that it’s hard to see. You’re also seeing nectar glistening there. So what the bees do is they create bee bread by collecting pollen. They bring it into the hive and they get it off their hind legs and then a bee with its head will stuff it into a cell. They keep stuffing the cell with pollen and they finally top it with a bit of honey that it ferments, like a good sourdough, and that makes it more digestible for the bees. Just the same for humans when they make a good sourdough bread. So it's called bee bread.

Stu

See just a few drones there. That's all you'd expect to see at this time of year, it's autumn. They wouldn't be producing drones because you're not in mating season. But there are a few remaining, and it's quite likely they'll get tossed out over the next few weeks. Although here we have a milder climate and the bees might not be so worried about it. 

There's more honey and pollen on the other side. And now I'm going to shake these bees off. We're going to put this frame aside. Pretty sure the queen's not on it, we’ve both been looking, but just in case and just to make it neater and easier to inspect. So now I can clearly see all the pollen on the inside, all the different yellowy colours.

Cedar

Maybe with the sun down the cells you’ll be able to see it. You'll get a bit of pollen up here, such a beautiful thing. Those colours of oranges and yellows and the bee bread. 


Mira

Did someone say bee bread?


Cedar

Here's my sister Mira the bee spy just coming. Perhaps you can get a better shot of it for you.

Stu

Look at this here. That's probably not a brood cell, but it's a broken cell. And that is the sort of thing you're looking for in terms of American foulbrood.

Mira

It's not brood. It's just that kind of perforated capped. It's just honey or something, but that’s what a perforated brood capping would look like. Let’s have a look at some pollen

Cedar

There we go. We've got a macro shot down the cell. If you've ever seen our Flow Hive channels, you would have noticed an amazing amount of macro bee footage, of slow motion footage. Most of that is my sister Mira doing her wonderful works. She’s totally obsessed by bees and gets amazing visuals inside and outside the hives. And if you ever go on an adventure with her to a park or wherever you find that she gets totally distracted and will end up chasing bees and leaving her friends, standing by waiting.

Mira 

Yeah. People have stopped hanging out at the park for me because of it.

Cedar 

So what I'm going to do is put this one aside and we'll have a look at the next frame. Now we have our shelf brackets on the side, which double as a really nice frame rest. I'm just going to put it on there and pull a couple more frames.

Stu

And all the while we're listening to the hum of the bees. At the moment it's still a contented hum, they're just busily doing what they do. We haven't alarmed them too much. The guard bees will still be at the entrance, looking out that way. And inside they're not expecting to be opened up and they’re just sort of calmly going about their business. But you'll hear the hum change if they suddenly realise, no we're being invaded, there's something wrong. And that's when you might need some more smoke or you might just need to get on with your inspection, finish it off and let them get back together again and stop being stressed. So now I'm just going to lever this apart. That makes it so much easier to lift out without rolling bees.

Cedar 

Rolling bees is the term given to if you pull a frame out with a lot of bees in between them, sometimes they can get squashed as they get rolled between the two surfaces. 

The queen

Cedar 

Okay. So typically you've got honey and pollen out on the edges and then brood as you go further in and some honey around the top of the frame. So you can see the honey around the top here. Before we shake these bees off let's just have a little look at that in case the queen's on here. There we go. Well spotted. Very nice. 

Stu

There's always a lovely competition on who spots the queen. I didn't expect to see her there, but she can be anywhere. And there is brood on this comb, so you would expect her to be there sometimes. Sometimes she turns up in the most unexpected places. In fact, one time I was working with you Mira and she climbed over the edge of the hive and was right on the outside. And we were looking at the frames, but she was busy looking at the view from the outside of the hive.

Mira 

And with spotting queens, often people look for the longer abdomen and the shorter wings like here. But sometimes when you're trying to spot a virgin queen or one that's got a slightly shorter abdomen, their legs are really what I look for. These kind of big prominent golden yellowy legs.

Cedar 

Look for her wings that come just over halfway down her body compared to the other bees. Her back plate there is often worn down from being in the hive for a while and she gets a shiny back plate on her thorax. Her legs are bigger as well and she moves with quite different strides to the rest of the bees.

Mira 

I usually spot her because of movement rather than shape. More often than not, if you kind of just glance over the frame, sometimes you just catch this different movement.

Cedar 

There we go. So we're happy we've got a queen in here obviously, we can also see brood. So this hive is queenright, it gets called when there is a functioning laying queen and the hive is happy. So you can see down in this section here, we've got the brood. Now I'm not going to shake these bees off because we've got the queen in there, but I'm just going to gently move them away with my fingers. And we can see some brood there. This frame is second from the edge, so that's a good sign that we've got brood out this far. 

Mira
There’s a new bee emerging. I’ll just get in there with the macro.

Cedar

You'll see that bee just chewing its way out of its cell. So it's been through that metamorphosis phase and it's now got all of its body parts, its eyes, its wings, its legs. Amazing change from being a grub down a cell to a have functioning baby bee, ready to walk out into the hive and start some of its hive chores.

Mira

The other bees are just wandering over her. 


Yeah, it's a busy thing in a hive. There's no rest. So we can actually shift the bees away a little bit, but it’s probably going to take another five minutes for her to emerge.

Stu 

Meanwhile, the queen is still there. She's wandering over to the other side of the frame, she moves around pretty quickly. You take your eye off the queen and she can be over the other side of the frame or at the other end in no time. She's a bit disrupted. Normally there's other workers and about six attendants feeding her and particularly attending towards her head. And where she walks she'll leave a sort of an empty trail, a wake behind her of no bees, but it's not happening right now. It's not easy to see her.

New bees

Mira 

Well, that's actually a new bee. If you see this bee here, you can see how it's all furry and fuzzy. It's a newly emerged bee. It's probably working now as a cleaner or a nurse. I think they do cleaning first, but seeing how she kind of looks like it's got bed hair, super kind of furry and fuzzy and a lighter colour. So probably, she just emerged today. I'd say not that long ago.

Stu 

First of all, you change out of your pyjamas and leave them folded neatly on the end of your bed.

Mira 

Then you clean your room. Here's another baby here, newly emerged. You can see she's kind of fuzzy and furry and a bit lighter.

Cedar 

And a little bit smaller as well. 

Mira 

She hasn't gorged herself on honey yet. 

Cedar 

Very cool. Because there's frame has got the queen on it. So what we might do is put it straight back in on the edge and we'll have a look at the next frame. Remember slowly putting that down. I'm trying not to squash any bees when I do so. Here's a drone bee and you can tell the difference because it's got those big eyes and that touch in the middle. And they look a bit more like a teddy bear. They're kind of rounded and a bit doughy and drones don't have stingers. So if you are going to give someone a bee to hold, then give them a drone.

Stu 

Again I'm going to just expand it out. So there's plenty of room as we lift this frame. Cedar and I could just take each end if we like and just lift so it doesn't roll up against anything. This is, so far from what we can see, a really healthy looking hive, nicely crowded and lovely and calm too. We've been mucking around with them now for 10 or 15 minutes and they're still a very quiet hum about them. None of that higher pitched annoyed and agitated hum, yet.

Cedar 

Look at this one with pollen pants. You can see the bright orange pollen, they’re collecting some nice orange pollen from flowers locally here. And we'll get Miras macro on that and see if we can get a look at it.

Stu 

I was just talking about the hum and I've just had one bee buzzing around my veil without that higher, more agitated hum. And she's checking me out. Nevertheless, we'll just do a little bit of calming smoke to mask the alarm.

Cedar

So we could choose to shake these off and have a really good look. If we were doing a proper brood inspection to check for pests and diseases, we would shake all of the bees off and have a really good look down the cells for any signs of AFB or EFB. So what I'm going to do is shake them now. Now, if you're trying to get bees off something then you want to give it a really good shake. Most movements in the hive are nice and calm, except for when you're trying to get the bees off something. I'm going to shake them off now.

So now you can get a really good look at what's going on in the brood. Now we've got a bit of a mixture here. You can see that we've got capped brood here. So they're in the cocoon phase going through their metamorphosis. And over here, we've got grubs that haven't spun their cocoon yet. So about 11 days in that grub phase and about 11 days in the cocoon phase for the worker bees. And you can see that these are worker bees by the shape of the cell. The drones tend to stick out like a bit of a bullet shape out and they're really obvious that they’re drones. And the queen cells are even more obvious that sort of hang down like a peanut. If you can spot the shining larvae down those cells in this region here, the white grubs down the cells. Any questions?



Beekeeping Questions


When is a good time to inspect if the weather is cool? (Victoria, Australia)

Stu 

Well, it's the day as much as the season. So given it's winter in Southern Australia, in Victoria, you're going to get colder days. But you don't want to pick a cold blustery day where the bees could get chilled. You can judge it for yourself in terms of the sort of day it is and how comfortable you feel in just a t-shirt, maybe with a shirt on. In spring and summer, you're going to have more mild days and autumn. Then in winter, you might be waiting a few days till it seems a little bit milder.

Cedar

I live in Victoria. Of course you get four seasons in one day. So it's not only the day, but the time of day.


I have installed a 5 frame nuc in a 10 frame brood box. How often should I inspect them?

Stu

If the bees are unstressed like this, oh, I just got a sting anyway. That’s a lovely little sting, that's fine. If the bees are calm and you're a beginner, I would advise you to go in more often, rather than less often, just so that you get used to it. And you'll know if the bees are getting stressed by your presence and by being open on a slightly cold blustery day or whatever, you'll sense that. You'll get to know when they'll get more stressed and upset. So I would say do it often. Having said that, some people will say, no, leave them alone.

Trace

This is one of those questions when we got three different versions.

Mira 

I would say, you've got to be careful not to open them too much because when you open a hive, you're also disrupting. You know, they glue everything together, they perfectly align everything. So it's really about finding a balance between making sure that they've got the space they need, they've got the help they need to defend against small hive beetle and pests and diseases. But it depends, some people, some beekeepers love going in and inspecting heaps. So it depends what your tendency is, I think.

Stu 

Yeah, there is that. But the reason I was saying it and you're right, it’s slightly tongue in cheek, but it is because beginners will tend to be more tentative and they therefore leave it for too long. I think that the idea is to get to the stage where you enjoy going in and you look forward to it. And so if your bees suffer a little bit because you're in training, I think that's okay. 

Mira 

I agree. Especially when you start a hive and they're building natural comb, you want to be going in there quite regularly to make sure that you're not getting cross comb.

Cedar 

It also depends on whereabouts in the world you are. Some people with strategies for Varroa mite for instance, which we don't have here in Australia, is to get in there and manage them often, depending on what method you're using. So asking your local beekeepers will give you a good idea of what's normal in terms of getting in and inspecting your brood for problems.


Heater holes

Stu 

This frame has got more weight in it than you'd expect, more honey than I’d expect anyway. I could feel the weight at this end anyway. 

Cedar 

It’s got quite a lot of brood though. It's full of brood and honey. In this case, the brood is adding a bit of the weight. You can see really nice brood over here, it’s great when you see it like that. So many new bees just about to emerge. We're going to have an explosion of baby bees in this hive within the next 11 days. And hopefully they will coincide with some nice flowering species, like the paperbark, perhaps that'll kick off again and they'll be able to then go and get it. It’s when you get that beautiful synergy between a lot of bees in the hive and a really good flowering that they really can haul the nectar in. So hopefully that'll happen to this hive.

Stu 

Beekeepers like to see the brood really clustered, and it shows that the queen is really fertile and active. She's not laying just sporadically, she's laying methodically and really consistently. So it's showing a good quality probably youngish queen, but you do see that there's the occasional honeycomb cell not covered in. And you think, oh, she's missed that one. Well, she's missed it on purpose because they're called heater holes. So when things are a little bit cool in the hive, the bees, the heater bees, and that's a phase that they go through, one of their roles, now pop down the hole, they'll disengage their wings and they'll shiver their flight muscles to heat up the surrounding brood. So it's a heater hole, and it's there on purpose.

Mira

I didn’t know that, Stu. You learn something new about bees every day.

Cedar

And it's funny, you know, humans breed for all of these traits. And one of them is a really hard-packed brood section. But in the end we might be breeding out one of their useful traits in those colder times of having those heater bee holes in the brood nest.

Stu 

Well, I guess so. I hadn't thought about that. There's no shortage of potential to start an argument in beekeeping!


When does the queen start laying her eggs? There is nectar in the partially developed honeycombs. (New Hampshire, USA)

Stu 

There should be nectar in your partially developed honeycomb, because that's them using their honeycomb to store nectar, which they'll process into honey. And so you'll only be concerned if you can't find any eggs, which need bright sunlight and good eyes to see down the bottom of the cells or the little grubs, the little larvae, or indeed capped and sealed brood with the bees incubating. That's what you're looking for in terms of the hive being queenright.

Of course, in other cells they're storing pollen and they're storing their honey. And so usually you'll expect to see cells half-full of sort of watery honey, as they process it down into honey itself. 

Cedar 

When a queen mates, it might take a couple of weeks for her to stop flying because she might go on a couple of mating flights and that's a bit weather dependent. And once she's been on a mating flight, she won't mate again, that'll be it for her entire life as a queen. After those couple of mating flights in the first week or two, then she'll get to laying. So she'll find empty cells. And what happens is the worker bees actually go down there and clean the cells ready for the queen to lay. And so they'll pick an appropriate area inside of the hive, which is usually pretty central because they want to maintain a nice temperature. And the worker bees will get down there, they'll clean them out and they'll leave a pheromone on there, which is a little bit like the door hanger on a hotel saying, all clean, ready to roll.

And then the queen will know that she can go and lay in that cell. She'll check it for size to see whether it’s a worker or drone size. So then she reverses into it and lays an egg right down the bottom. And your queen might lay multiple eggs as she's finding her feet as a new queen. But usually it's just one in the bottom. And that's when everything's working. Normally, if you see eggs on the sidewall of the cell, then it's likely that you've got laying workers, they can't quite reach the bottom of the cell because their abdomens aren’t long enough.

Stu 

And that's a worry. That means the current queen either isn't there, isn't producing pheromones, is weak in some way. The workers can lay, but they're always held back by the queen’s pheromones and so on. So they shouldn't be laying. But just to also say that the eggs are hard to see. So with that question, it may be that quite a few cells do have eggs in them. Look in bright sunlight for a fine translucent, tiny little egg, it's like the smallest finger nail clipping you can imagine down the bottom of the cell. That's what's there first and that'll take a few days to sort of hatch into the larva and so on. And then the larvae are easier to see. So the whole process of a worker bee is a 21 day process. So your queen has just been introduced, it's going to be three weeks before worker bees will be hatching out.


When do you know to feed your bees and how do you know when to stop feeding them? And can they be overfed? 

Stu 

You know, this is where we say consult your local beekeepers because things vary from season to season and the local beekeepers in your region will know more or less what's going to be happening with the flowering over the next few months. And so it'll be a bit of a mistake to feed bees when actually in two weeks time, a major flowering is going to happen. So you've got to know your flora and these days that's difficult. Climate changes has changed that a bit and made flowering a little bit more erratic. Nevertheless, consulting your locals will help you judge that. 

And it's also about overwintering, and we don't have to overwinter here. So I don't think it's good for me to pretend to know about it at all, because as I understand it and can be corrected, you only feed before they're going into their hibernation stage, you don't feed afterwards. You feed them up if you're worried that they don't have enough stores to get them through the winter.

Cedar 

Unless they’re starving, in which case feed them anyway. Cause it's better than them dying. But if you can feed them prior to winter, it's better.


Mira 

So I kept bees in Berlin, which is a cold climate. And the summer nectar flow would fill up the Flow Frames and I'd harvest them and remove the Flow super. And then I'd let the autumn flow fill the brood box for the winter stores. And I'd also feed them some during that time. It's important not to feed liquid sugar when it's too cold because the bees actually can't reduce the water content to store it as honey and cap it, and you can end up with a mouldy wet hive. And that's not good for winter. So yes, it's definitely something that's so unique to the location. And so really like finding a local beekeeper is great. It doesn't matter if it's not a Flow Hive, it's the same theory. It's the same as a Langstroth beehive. It's the same practice. So anyone who's a beekeeper in your area can advise you, what are the nectar flows? Like when are the times that feeding might be needed? But like Cedar said, if you've got a weak colony and it’s starving, feed it.

Stu 

Right. So the way you know if it's starving is first of all, of course there's no honey stores in there. But then you'll also see lots and lots of bees with their heads down in the cells, looking for the last bits of honey and nutrients. So you'll see lots and lots of bee bums sticking up when they're hungry. And so if you see that, that is really an alarm time, they don't have much longer to go without stores like that.

Mira 

I had a hive recently that was just a four frame split and we had a month of almost constant rain and I checked them and they had no honey stores and no nectar coming in. So I gave them a bit of sugar for a few days and that saw them through.

Cedar 

So in answer to too much feeding, the reason why you stop feeding is because you don't want sugar syrup going into your honey stores. Otherwise you get honey that's actually sugar syrup, which isn't what you're after at all. So beekeepers will tend to stop feeding and make sure that all of those stores are getting used over the wintertime or a time without flowers. And that way you are storing honey instead of sugar. 


Honeycomb

Cedar

Okay, let's have a look at this frame. This is a typical edge frame where they've gone and they've produced beautiful honey on the edge of the hive. And you can see that there has been some things flowering recently because this area here has glistening honey down in the cells. They’re capping it off at the top here. And they're yet to finish even drawing out and filling the cells down here.

This would be a great comb to cut a bit of comb out, to take to a party or put on a platter or something. That's easy to do, you can just get a knife and cut yourself a shape and put the frame back in, the bees will fill it in quite quickly. So if you are wanting some honeycomb from your Flow Hive, have a look at the edge frames of your hive. And you'll probably find this honeycomb there. You could harvest the whole frame if you want it to, or you can just harvest a section by simply cutting out a shape.

Stu 

You would do that in the spring or summer when it's warmer. Right now, even here, they're wanting their stores, the honey to not only eat when they don't have enough coming in, but to keep this temperature of the brood stable, the honey is a thermal mass and it's excellent. That's why they put it around the edge of the brood to keep the brood at a stable temperature.

Cedar 

I just notice the tone of the bees changed. Can you hear that? Yeah. So they're getting a bit sick of having the hive apart. I’ll add a little bit more smoke and we’ll start putting the hive back together.


Do you prefer a specific breed of honeybee or are they a mixture of different breeds? 

Stu

Your genetics are quite important. And again, this is a regional thing and I would consult local beekeepers. So around here we tend to use the Italian stock, but down in Victoria, my brother’s had real success with oh, golly, now I've forgotten which one he got, probably Caucasian. That's one of the fascinating things. Rather than take anyone's word for it, you can experiment with it, particularly if you've got more than one hive and compare them. But you'll find that even between the same queens and same stock from the same breeder, you'll still get enormous differences in how the colony will behave. They've all got their own personalities. And so it's more that the particular DNA of that queen, and then the breeding after that.


What should you do if the queen is on the queen excluder when you open the hive?

Stu

It’s best to just shake or coax her gently back into the hive, unless you are trying to catch her, in which case it would be convenient. The main thing is that you know where she is and you know she's not going to fall on the ground. Because if the queen falls on the ground outside the hive, once she's mated and is swollen with food and eggs, she finds it very, very hard to fly and she may not be able to get back into the hive again if she falls on the ground. So when you know where she is, that's the best thing. And then yes, you can coax her back into the combs itself with your hand or a gentle shake or just letting her run in, if you just lean the excluder in that case, up against the frames.

Closing the hive

Cedar 

So what I'm doing now is just trying to put the frames back in the same order and the brood comb actually helps tell a story of how they go back. This last frame, I'm not quite sure whether it was in here, but I think it was. So we're just going to try and get that down in there. Now there's a lot of bees here, so we might add a bit of a smoke just to clear them out of the way while we can slip that frame. The last frame in the last frame is the hardest to get in and out because you're going vertical rather than sideways. 

I’m picking up that frame now, and just having a look. It's pretty straight, this one, a really fine example of a naturally drawn comb where the bees have joined it and connected it to the edge. There's no wax or wire here. It's one of the methods you can choose. However, you can add foundation to these frames if you want to. So it looks like there's enough room to go down and there's a bit of a bowl, a bit of a gap there. There should be enough room to get this frame down. 

Now I am seeing a bit of a bulge here and you have to be mindful of where two combs meet, because that's an area where beetles can take hold. If there's not enough room for the bees to service, if you've got the hive beetle within your area, they can take advantage of laying in that zone. So typically that bulge should line up with something. So we may have these two frames the wrong way around. We could just take an opportunity because that's honey there, to cut that bulge out and give the bees access to that section. Now this honey can just stay in the hive for the bees. It's really important not to leave honey out of the hive, because other bees will come and start a robbing frenzy. There we go. The bees will clean all that up and you’ll have some nice straight frames again. Mira’s decided to play with the bees.

Mira 

Well, even though they're telling us they're a little bit upset, they kind of like, we're done, they're still incredibly docile and placid. And so they were on the side of the box and I was just picking up and taking them in. So there's a few more here and I can just gently, gently, move them in.

Cedar 

They only stung Stu once, which means they were pretty much a perfect hive.

Stu 

Yeah, I didn't see what was happening. It's possible that that bee that nipped me was just a little bit squashed. It was on my hand, I hadn't noticed it and I'd bumped it against something and it went well, what's going on here? I didn't see. But they don't seem to be sending out the aggressive defending troops.

Mira 

We might want to clean this up a little bit. So that’s some pretty good comb that I want to eat.

I'm gonna shake that bee off my finger first. And I'm going to sneak this up in my veil.

Stu 

That’s the advantage of a veil compared to a hood, to be prepared for honey munching.


How should you rest the super on the ground when you have removed it?

Stu 

So you basically just want it supported well. It can be also tipped like this on its side, that won't worry the bees either. At the moment, the inner cover is still propolised on, so it's not going to fall off. But generally you put it like that. And now I have to be careful putting it back just so that there's a couple of edges supporting it. Sometimes I tip the roof over and put it diagonally on the roof, because again, it’s supported by three or four points then.

Cedar 

The basics of that is you just try not to squash bees. So you're leaning it up against something so the bees underneath don't get squashed.


Does a queen ever stop laying eggs. And if so, why?

Stu 

Yeah, she does stop. And it's after quite a few years. And so by her third year, she's really slowed up, which is why most beekeepers, particularly commercial beekeepers, will replace their queens if not every year, then every two years, because she's slowing up. And so if you want a vigorous hive ready to respond to a sudden nectar flow, then you would requeen. However, she will keep laying for years and years just, gradually slowing up. And it's the bees themselves that will decide that she's slowed up too much. She's not laying enough, she's out. And then they will initiate making new queens, making queen cells and finally kicking the queen out. 


Stu

So the queen excluder has been put on and now the super gently put back on again. So the whole hive is together now, and the bees will settle down. We'll hear that slightly higher noted, slightly agitated hum. That will settle down in a moment because everything's in its place again.

Cedar 

Beautiful. So thank you so much for all your questions today. We've got time for one more as we just finish off the last pieces of this hive and put it back together.


Should you leave the plug in the inner cover all the time?

Stu

Yes, generally, unless you're using that hole for a feeder. A small jar with sugar water and a perforated lid. Or if you're getting really fancy, you can put an empty jar in a small jar again, over that hole. And the bees will build honeycomb up in that jar. When they're finished, you can take it off, let the bees get out and then fill it with honey. And that's a lovely present with clear honey and then honeycomb inside the jar.

Cedar 

Thank you so much for all your questions today. We've been doing a bit of family beekeeping here. And if you want some really in-depth training material, have a look at TheBeekeeper.org. It's also a fundraiser. It’s really in-depth training to take you from square one, right through to having a deep knowledge of beekeeping. So take a look at that. Also lots of videos like this on our Facebook stream or our YouTube channel to get a look at. Thank you so much for all your questions catch you again, same time next week.



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