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First hive, pictures after 3 weeks: your comments on progress?!


Hi all,

New to beekeeping, started a hive in northern France together with my parents. This being France, we could only get a nuc on local Dadant frames. We installed the hive exactly three weeks ago, from a 5 frame nuc into a 10 frame Dadant box. The 5 nuc frames were all drawn out, the 5 new frames just had wire in them. No foundation. We fed them once to help them out drawing new comb. Probably 1.5 litres of 1:1 sugar syrup.

We’re going to add a second brood box with Langstroth frames and depending on how fast the girls populate that, also add the Flow frames in a third box on top. Maybe this year, but more probably next year.

My parents did a hive inspection today. One frame still only wire, the rest mostly drawn out and also partially used for honey or brood. I’ve attached the pictures of the frames. Would be great to get some feedback on whether you think all is going well, if we should feed them, and whether we’re ready to add the second brood box already.

Thanks! Sjoerd


Hi Sjoerd, Everything looks fine, except I think you’re better off by using properly fitted foundation. You can see where the bees avoided building through a lot of the bare wires.

I would add a second box if I knew conditions were going to remain favorable for the bees to continue building up in.


Hi @Pantahan - the progress looks really good to me, speaking as a second year newbee myself :sweat_smile:

Judging from your pictures you do have a strong population - you want to see at least 80% of your frames totally built and all of those thickly covered with bees before adding a box, would you say that’s the case when you looked?

I agree with Jeff, check with local beekeepers familiar with nectar flow patterns in your area to see if your bees would benefit from the added space at this point in your season, or if they would struggle to defend it from pests and keep consistent temperatures due to being unable to fill it up at a healthy pace.

Have fun and good luck! Keep us posted on how it goes :+1:


Hi @Pantahan. Your hive is doing great! I would give them another brood cycle before putting another brood box or the super on. They still have plenty of work to do. But it depends so much on your local situation.
Good to see hobby beekeepers going foundationless.
I would take that wire out, it’s probably even toxic (nickel/lead) and the bees don’t like it. Fishing line would be better, if anything.
Your supplier probably shifted broodcomb into the super box and needed the strength in the comb for honey spinning. If you have a flow super you don’t spin out your combs anyway. Even crush and strain is nicer without wires.
That’s my thoughts. :sunglasses: cheers


Hello Sjoerd,

Colony strength appears good but for now it is based primarily on the strength of the original nuc since there has barely been enough time for one brood cycle. The proof of the pudding is what happens AFTER the initial nuc population goes away (dies out). One of the major influences on successful hive populations is the quality of the finished combs.

Good combs are worth their weight in gold (so to speak) and the best time to insure that high quality combs are made is right up front…when the comb is first made. While opinions certainly vary, I’m not a fan of foundation-less approaches to beekeeping simply because of wide variations I’ve observed from hive to hive in the ratio of worker cells to drone cells. Unless my vision is off, I see lots of drone cells in several of your photos. While bees will always have some drones on-hand, too many is not desirable. While having some drones is natural, excessive drones are not necessarily more “natural”. In fact, drone cells require less wax so some colonies tend to drawn drone comb if given the slightest reason to do so…because it takes less material (wax flakes) and labor. At least that’s what I think after keeping bees for many years.

Queens determine what egg to lay based on the size of the cell so once drone cells are in place, you’ll get lots of drones forever…so better to get the best comb first so the pattern is set for years of worker bee production and less drones.

So you might consider quickly adding some foundation to any remaining undrawn frames to get your combs drawn out so as to get the best quality combs which will last for many years if treated/managed correctly.

Good luck!



Thanks everyone for the input! I’m going to experiment a bit going forward. Next brood box will be a Langstroth where I will use wax foundation. If I do the wire foundation, I’ll try the fish line instead.

Most interesting thing for this hive is that it’s at our second house in France, so we’re not there all of the time. I’m especially anxious in winter and in swarming season to see (or actually not :slight_smile:) what will happen then. We’d also like to do a split in the coming years, interesting to see how that will play out.

Thanks, I’ll share more pictures next time around!



Considering that you aren’t around, you are probably best off to use foundation after all. Foundationless requires checking and sometimes correcting as the bees build comb. I have 3 entirely foundationless hives and I am surprised at how little drone cells they built, because everybody warned me. So far, to me the foundationless excess drone building idea is a myth. My real life experience with bees is only of 8 months duration though. It is interesting that beekeepers who warn me all use foundation and never tried otherwise. Wonder how it is in feral hives. Ultimately I believe the bees build drone when there is a need for drones. If we all avoid drones, there won’t be any in the mating area for our new queens. Diversity would suffer in any case.
It makes sense to use foundation as a professional beekeeper too. They wouldn’t want to waste their time correcting new comb.
If you are leaving France now, you should definitely put your next brood box on. It won’t be long now till this box is full. Your brood pattern looks good and some bees have hatched already. I assume there is still a bit of a flow on in France before winter. But I don’t think you will have any surplus honey this year. Local beekeepers will know best.


With regards to foundationless frames: I only let new colonies build on foundationless frames. The reason is they build worker comb; they don’t have the desire to build drone comb until they are established.

Your hive looks fine.


Hi all, thanks for the input. We put a second brood box on two weeks ago. Weather has been bad. Around 20 C, but lots of rain. Yesterday and today were a bit better, with around 25 C and no rain. Went up to inspect the girls, they had barely started with the second box. No honey super this yearDoes it help to feed them sugar water to help comb building?

Progress in the lower brood box seemed ok, given the weather that is. Lots of capped brood, quite some larvae and honey stores. We even managed to find the queen.

I also found some crystalized stuff in the bottom of a few frames. I’m not sure what it is. I was thinking pollen maybe? Anyone who can enlighten me?

Thanks Sjoerd


Yes, pollen. Also known as “bee bread”, as it isn’t just pollen, but a mixture of pollen, honey and microorganisms.