First brood inspection

Ok! We installed a local Nuc into our FlowFrame 2 ten days ago. Excited to watch bees coming and going every day, bringing lots of pollen into the hive. I love listening to the hive and trying to interpret what I’m seeing on the landing board.

Today we opened the hive for a first inspection (!!!) and found that our black plastic Acorn frames are being drawn out, that there is alot of stored honey and pollen, and that there are visible larvae and lots of capped brood on the central 3 frames. We could not find the queen but we were a bit overwhelmed and didn’t spend enough time, I’m sure. The presence of larvae and the general robust activitiy in the hive gives me confidence that she’s there, even if I didn’t see her. Is that a reasonable assumption?

I would like to understand the significance of finding a few queen cups (
swarm cups?) on the bottom edge of one frame. I know that they are commonly found, but I don’t know if they suggest an incipient swarm. Are there steps that should be taken based on the presence of these cups?

Thank you for your help!

The hive can still be quite active even if queenless. You can count back in time from the youngest brood or eggs to know when the queen was last laying eggs:


If they are empty and you have a productive queen then many call those “just in case” cups without any real significance. Taking them down other than to look inside to make sure there’s nothing there is fine but the bees will rebuild them if they want them and is probably a waste of energy and time. If you don’t have a queen and there is royal jelly (milky white) or egg or larva inside then your bees are working on a new queen, likely for swarming in that location but also could be for supercedure or emergency.


Thank you, Alok! Very reassuring to know the queen cups are likely to be insignificant. I am less reassured by your response to my ‘did not observe the queen but it’s OK’ attitude, so will be more vigilante next time (next week seems reasonalbe, I think).

Congrats on your fist inspection. Exciting isn’t it.

Your nuc sounds healthy and enjoying their new home.

I’d suggest feeding if you haven’t started for a week maybe 2 to help with drawing out comb.

Not seeing the queen but spotting larvae is a reassuring sign she is hard at work.

Looking for eggs and very very tiny larvae is a sign the queen was laying 3-4 days past.

The cups, if empty and dry are normal. You’ll come across these most inspections. If they have anything in them or a milky looking liquid thats a Queen cell. You then need to look for the queen to ensure she is there and eggs to see she is still laying.

Take your time, if it gets overwhelming take a short break away from the hive then return. Your learning so go at your pace.

Find her and see eggs, squish or tear down the QCs.

Ones on the bottom of the frames are a bit more concerning as they are normally swarm cells.

Inspecting every 7 days helps you find QCs before they get capped.

If your queen.isnt marked get help to mark her, it will help and also when your comfortable if your confident the queen isnt on the frame shake off the bees into the hive so you can inspect the frames fully.

It’s easy to look at frames with bees on and not notice a QC under a thick bunch of bees. That’s how most of us get caught out.

Enjoy the adventure :+1:

Thank you for the advice, HH! During the next inspection I will think calming thoughts and take my time searching for the Queen, or at least her eggs.