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Brood in the supa


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Hi, it has been a while since I have had a dilemma with my hive where I have felt the need to seek advise from the professionals.
The hive was serviced, after the winter break, on Sept 16. On our return from a months holiday, I noticed brood in the Flow Supa. On inspection today there is a substantial amount of lavae in the supa.
On reading post dated Sept 16, 2016 @FrankD - I would assume I have drone lavae.
I am wondering the best way to approach this mess. There is quite a lot of honey in each of the frames and I am hoping you can suggest a way of extracting the honey without contaminating it, before I pull the frames apart to clean them. (Yuk, what a job!!)
I am always grateful for any advise you can offer.
Regards Jude.


It’s not as bad as you would imagine.

First of all make sure that the queen is below the QX. Look for any larger gaps in the QX that can be fixed.

Let the brood emerge out of the comb, then the bees will replace the brood with honey. Make an escape for the drones to exit from.

This is an excellent argument for inspecting each frame before harvest.


PS, there is a possibility that a laying worker laid those eggs while at the same time the queen was happily laying below the QX. I’ve seen that happen with my own bees on the odd occasion.


For some reason neither of those pics can be zoomed in to fill the screen with you photo. So I can’t see if what is shown is drone cells or worker cells.
Establish that the hive is queen right and that she is below the QX.
Leave the frames as they are and let the bees emerge from the cells.
Follow JeffH’s suggestion and you won’t go wrong.
There is no way to extract the honey with brood in the frame and not to expect contamination of the honey.


Thanks @JeffH, always lovely to hear your always positive opinion. We did give a good check of the supa, can’t spot a queen, however so many bees, may have overlooked. Lots of drones. The queen excluder did not seem to have a problem but will take a closer look next week. There is plenty of brood in various stages in the brood box -so although we couldn’t find our queen, she has to be there. I have learnt one thing from this-don’t leave the supa on over winter. The joys of bee keeping :joy:


Thanks for you help here @Peter48, your advise is appreciated. The wax over the cell is flat, but the cells on the flow frames are so much deeper I thought that may account for the look. I will wait to see what happens over the next few days. I am able to expand the photo on my screen, disappointed you can’t take a closer look. Thanks


I have read in an earlier post @FrankD 2016, that the bees will not lay in a cell that has housed brood. Would it be an idea to reduce the amount of bees in the supa to another brood box with a few frames from the brood box and try for another colony ? From the number of bees, I think we are in for a swarm shortly!


The extra depth of the cells on a Flow Frame may then mean that there is no need for the convex capping of drone cells to accommodate the larger size of a drone. Maybe others have an opinion on that?


A split is always preferable to having a hive swarm and if you don’t want an extra hive they are a very saleable asset. With the Spring weather and temperatures rising it is the ‘swarming season’ and doing a split can prevent this happening. A look in the brood box for queen cells is more than a good indicator of the mood of the colony but even without queen cells if you do a split with eggs and nurse bees the colony without a queen will produce a new queen.
The way I do splits is to take every second frame to a new brood box then compact the frames to the centre and then put new frames with foundation to the outside, they will build out the comb for the queen to lay more eggs.

When a bee emerges from a cell it is cleaned and the queen will lay another egg in the cell so I’m not sure what Frank was trying to explain there.


It has been a while since I have contributed anything to the forum.
I have read my earlier posts and can’t find anywhere that I have said that the bees will not lay in a cell that has housed brood, even back in 2016 when I was a relative novice. This would mean a renewing of the frames in the brood boxes every year, and (as far as I am aware) no one does this be cause there is no need.
Re the brood in flow frames, I spent many painstaking hours disassembling the Flow frames and cleaning out the pupa shells (or most of them). Since them I have used the flow frames successfully.
I can see, and indeed have seen people successfully using no QX in their non Flow hives (I am not one of them), but since my experience in 2016 I have never run a Flow super without a QX. It is just not worth the hassle.


Thanks @FrankD, I’m sorry if that reference to you was incorrect. I thought I read it as one of the replies to your 2016 post. Perhaps I am confused (which is not unusual) what I am trying to assertain is - after the bees have emerged and the flow frames are free from brood - do I need to pull them apart to clean them? Cheers Jude.


The bee that emerges will clean the cell up so I would work on it being as clean as is needed.
Hope my relies are making sense for you.
Is lake Macquarie built out by housing or is there still some natural bush area left about there?


Thanks Peter, your replies are very reassuring, seriously did not want to pull those frames apart. Will get in next week and set up a new box, trying to prevent a swarm and in so doing making it easier for me to to keep an eye on those cells in the supa. Will let you know how we get on. Lake Macquarie is growing very rapidly with the urban sprawl, but where we are there is still a large bushland area behind us between the lake and the main arterial round. The bees have lakeside views, I think they quite like where they live!
Thanks heaps, regards Jude.


You’re welcome Jude, it may be a worker laying above the QX like I’ve seen myself from time to time. The flow cells are all drone size, therefore you’ll only get drones laid in them. Because the brood is sporadic like in the left photo, that gives rise to my theory of a laying worker.

That will happen regardless of whether you left the super on over winter or not. The bees sometimes treat all of those drone cells as an opportunity to make more drones during a period when there will be lots of virgin queens needing to be mated.

The more drones a colony makes, the higher the chance of that colony passing on it’s genes.

PS, always physically check the frames just before harvest would be my recommendation.


If you are now running the Flow super with a QX, you will need to periodically release the emerged drone from the super, until they have all emerged and been released. This is what I did, however if you like they can be left them up there to live their life above the excluder. When they die, you will be left with their heads above the excluder. The bees can’t pull them through the QX and the heads will resemble little black beetles.
JeffH, that’s good advice and what I routinely do before each extraction. Nothing beats a positive look at the whole frame to inform you of the honey situation on the frame. A view of the end gives you an idea, but in the end you are just guessing.


You have cleared up all my worries, once again very grate for the input. Will just go ahead as usual now, with ongoing inspections and maintenance. We alway check the frames before harvesting, mainly to be sure all the cells in the frame are capped, now I realise there is so much more to check for. Always great to be reassured that things are not as bad as they seem. Thanks again @JeffH, @Peter48, @FrankD.


thanks- you’ve just explained the little black beetle like things I found in my QX of a standard hive I have… Drone heads


That is the best drones to have Jack :laughing:


Hi Jude,

Jumping in, you have had great support already. I just thought Id mention, although I think its been said. The bees will hatch out of the cells, the bees will clean out the cells and use them for storing honey, However it might be that the queen has fit through the gaps, or perhaps been trapped up during an inspection. Perhaps you removed the queen excluder over winter so the colony could feed on the honey. If it wasn’t the queen, worker bees can lay eggs if there is an issue with the colony, usually if you have lost a queen. Drones will not be able to exit through the queen excluder so it would be a good idea to check on the hive, and leave the roof slightly ajar in good weather so the drones can leave the hive, and return to the brood box. –Kieran (Flow Team)


Thanks for you input @KieranPI, always happy for advise. On inspection yesterday, there are more drone cells in the supa and the brood box only has drone brood and plenty of it- there appears to be no worker brood. And the number of bees seems diminished since last inspection. So I’m thinking, sadly, that my very productive queen has swarmed, after an extensive search could not find any virgin queens . I have been able to source a new queen from the beekeeper who gave me my original nuc, so I am going ahead with that arrangement. Hopefully I am doing the right thing. Just to keep you in the loop - @JeffH, @Peter48, @FrankD


On that information you have a laying worker who is laying drones. Hopefully when you introduce the queen the laying worker will settle down to foraging, but if she doesn’t there is ways around getting her out of the hive, lets cross that bridge if we need to.
Normally when a colony is going to swarm the colony will already be making a new queen or two. If you are sure the hive is not queen right then I assume you know how to introduce the new queen and that should fix that issue.
If you are still getting excessive drone brood come back on the forum for the info on a fix for that.