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Disturbed hive after first brood inspection

I carried out a quick brood box inspection today as I hadn’t really poked around since receiving it back from the apiarist who hived the bees for me a few months back, instead just adding the super when the combs seemed full. I pulled out each frame looking for SHBs of which I didn’t see too many (not until replacing the box and dicking around underneath, anyway). I failed to locate the queen, but counted a few dozen drones. Much of the he comb - nearly a half - were empty cells and there were still some brood emerging from others. I think it was the fourth comb in where I dropped one end of a frame on my boot and knocked a hundred or two bees onto the ground (at which point so shuffled to the other side to continue). Up until now I’ve not seen much bearding at all - barely a goatee. Tonight however, even after trying to help as much of the fallen back into the hive as I could there’s a full wall clinging to the front of the brood box in long chains. I’d previously noted a couple of dead undeveloped bees discarded at the front of the hive and after checking just now (approaching midnight here) I could see quite a few more tossed out the front entrance. Should I be concerned about any of this? Have I just triggered a bit of a housecleaning or is this something more serious? I’m hoping the queen was just glanced over and still safe in the hive. Should I try to scoop the chaining bees back into the hive or just let them hang out if they’re still there tomorrow?

I’d leave things alone to settle for a bit. The drop might have dislodged and killed brood so they are removing the compromised larvae - and the bearding bees could just be staying out of the way. Or they could be discussing whether to abscond, in which case your best bet is still leave them alone.


Hi Joshua, I had the same issue when we transferred the frames into their final box… one dropped inside the brood box and the whole comb came off the foundations… we patch it back and… they fixed it…Bees are phenomenal fixers!! I agree with Eva…Don’t do anything but just keep an eye how they rebuild the comb, as you might get cross combs… I have read that someone whilst patching back the crumble of combs they use ties to keep combs firmly in place…well that was way too advanced, as I am a newbee too!!

The comb didn’t break off the frame, it only dropped about half a foot and dislodged the bees clustered there. I don’t think much damage was done to any of the structure. Wish I’d found that pesky queen, though.

How high is the entrance off the ground? Would a ramp help them? Possible that the queen dropped off onto the ground too and is unable to fly up?

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If you saw young larvae or better yet, eggs, then your queen was present just prior to inspection. Even fairly smooth inspections can result in queens being damaged or killed, though, so another reason to keep clear for now in case the bees have to make a new one.

It’s on two small packing crates, so about 20 cm with places to climb up. They’re mostly hanging around just above the entrance.

I didn’t notice eggs but then again I wasn’t really looking for them, more concerned about SHBs.

There’s about half as many there as last night and they’ve stopped chaining but they still seem kind of agitated.

There are several young looking bees wandering around the grass which I think just needed a hand getting back in. Other bees stop to feed them by the looks of it. There’s also a growing pile of drone brood being dumped under the landing strip. You can just about glimpse them in the pic above if you zoom in where the stick forks off.

I often put sticks as bridges for bees to climb up. There is a chance the queen fell on the ground. If she dies the bees will get to making another one ASAP. Check gain in a week looking for eggs or tiny larvae. If you see them she is fine. If you see a queen cell or two you will know she perished.

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Glad things are calming down slightly. Taking a look for eggs in brood cells is a great substitute for hunting for those wily queens when you’re getting started, Josh - eggs are tiny, but at least they stay still :laughing:

I’m sure painting is not your immediate concern @Joshua_Cromarty - but when you have the chance to it may help to paint your boxes a color other than red (or white). Apparently SHB can spot those more easily as they fly.

Far fewer bees congregating this morning which hopefully means regular production is resuming. Brood still being dumped outside but that started before the inspection bungle anyway.

I’m taking the “Quick” brood box inspection literally. We should carry out brood box inspections, not quick, not slow either, do it at a steady pace, working at the rear of the hive, with smoker always going nearby. The bees will be doing their job of keeping hive beetles hidden. Once we disturb frames, that will liberate hive beetles, thus bringing them into view. After we complete the inspection, the bees will quickly chase the beetles into hiding places again.

Hive beetles can be a problem if we #1 damage the brood. #2 if we return brood frames with brood from one frame touching brood from an adjoining frame. This can happen if the frames are not put back in the same order they came out. #3 A honey spill can lead to beetle problems. Lastly, #4. If we heave dead or trapped bees between combs, that can’t be readily removed by the house bees.

I paint everything white, even if hive beetles do find the hives easier. White (I believe) is the best color to keep a hive cool in the hot sun.

I have seen literally hundreds of hive beetles in single hives without them doing any damage. I squash the ones I’m able to. However I don’t lose any sleep over the hundreds I miss.

This photo shows how bad beetles can get, without getting a chance to do any damage.



Wen I say quick I just meant I didn’t keep the frames out for more than a minute or two, just enough for a quick lookover. I was very careful placing each frame back as gently as possible in the same place and orientation from which I removed it. I noticed maybe a dozen beetles outside the hive after I was finished, none during the inspection itself. Other than the single frame I let slip fro where I rested it there were no real dramas.


That’s good that you did all those things Josh. As long as you keep doing what you’re doing, the beetles wont get a chance to lay any eggs.

When I sell nucs, it’s frequently to new beekeepers. I transfer the frames from my brood box to their brood box. I recently started pointing out how no beetles are visible on the frames during transfer, however, after the transfer, when most of the bees are gone, there’s always beetles running around on the bottom board that had recently been hiding in nooks & crannies, chased there by bees who wont let them out. I like showing people how incessantly the bees chase them until they find somewhere to hide.


Hard to be sure, as I don’t want to disturb the brood box for a good while, but it seems like there might be fewer bees than normal from observing the comings and goings and checking the super. Is it possible my interference triggered a swarm event instead of a full absconsion?

I can’t see any reason why an inspection would trigger a swarm event. Bees will swarm at a time that suits them. The thing that could happen during an inspection, is the queen gets killed (balled) by the bees or accidentally killed or lost by the beekeeper. We can inadvertently do things to trigger a hive beetle slime-out. In that case a full absconsion could be possible if the bees can’t get on top of it.

Sometimes it’s necessary to do multiple brood inspections so as to make sure that all is well there.

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I wonder if the drop in numbers could be related to this brood loss you mentioned 7 days ago.


Probably right. There has been quite a few bee carcasses littered around the hive as well as the brood. Not sure if the majority we’re young, disoriented bees who weren’t getting the sort of grooming that makes for a healthy adult or older bees at the end of their natural lifecycle, or whether some trauma had befallen them, but accounting for the disruption to rearing of hive members and possible reassignment of healthy workers to fill other roles, the population is probably within expected margins.