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First hive(s) set up! Found Queen cells?

Hi everyone! I’m a newbee, based a couple hours south-east of Perth, WA. We finally set up our first (Flow) hive on our 5 acre property on the edge of town. Four days later that turned into two hives, as we captured a swarm in the backyard of our house in town! (I’ll post more about that later)

Nuc/Flow Hive:
3 Oct - Picked up our 4 frame Nuc in Perth, set it up in position next to the 8F brood box.
4 Oct - Transferred frames over to brood box. We were recommended to checkerboard them, so I ended up placing them in this pattern - OXOXXOXO - (where the X’s represent the nuc frames, and the O’s represent foundationless frames).
12 Oct - Had a quick peek (after setting up our captured swarm in the 2nd hive) and they seemed to be going well. Drawing out new comb, and I spotted a lot of capped & uncapped honey, pollen and larvae. Also spotted what I thought could be a queen cup, but was working solo and didn’t get a chance to take a photo.
17 Oct - Time for a more thorough inspection - and we spotted the queen! Also found eggs and larvae. Not a huge amount of capped brood. Lots of honey. We found what looked like two capped queen cells on the frames - one each in the centre of two of the frames that came out of the Nuc. We thought it best to leave things be(e), finish the inspection and do some more research on what might be happening. One other thing I noticed was what looked like a couple of drone cells containing pupae, along the bottom of one of the frames, being chewed open by workers.

First round of hive inspection photos:
1st frame was empty
2nd frame from the edge (possible 1st Queen cell):



3rd frame (Newly drawn comb):


4th frame (possible 2nd Queen cell, only spotted in the pics after we got home):

Queenspotting:

5th frame:



6th frame (newly drawn):


7th frame:

8th frame (not much to report!)

With two pairs of hands today, we managed to take a lot of photos - it’s great to be able to look back and review what we were seeing. We would love some insights on what might be going on in here - I thought it odd to find both queen cells and a laying queen in a fairly newly installed nuc, but hey - bees will be bees and it’s been a fascinating adventure already!

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Did your supplier requeen the nuc with a young queen or was it an old queen from one of their hives?

Could be swarm or supercedure cells as swarm cells are usually along the bottom of a frame but not always.

Also I would never checkerboard a nuc.

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@Stevo When we got there to pick it up, they said it was a split from one of their hives, and had been overwintered. I feel like it might pay to check in with them and get some more details.

Thanks for the advice on the checkerboarding, after a lot of trawling through forums this past fortnight that seems to be the consensus!

Hi @Casey,

There is no such thing as consensus among beekeepers :rofl:

Checkerboarding is popular because bees build comb faster initially. It feels good to see how quick they do it but quite often it puts undue stress on a small colony. When transfered to a new hive, colony of the same size gets into situation when it needs to regulate climate in bigger volume. Doable, but could be not ideal.

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That’s a fair point! :sweat_smile:

I feel alright that we kept the two centremost frames together in the brood box, and only checkerboarded the outer frames. At least it’s been quite warm, and there seems to be a lot of flowering going on around this area right now (right in the middle of spring… who’d have thought?! :laughing:). They sure have been building a lot of comb! The couple we purchased the nuc from suggested feeding some sugar syrup for a while to help them get started.

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I disagree…

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I’m sure there’s always one/some that go against the grain of commonly shared wisdom! Either way, I’m super keen to learn from some experienced beeks. We don’t know anyone locally yet that we can buddy up with for assistance & advice. But, I’ve signed up to the Flow online course, and also joined WAAS. Not to mention venturing down the Youtube rabbit-hole of beekeeping videos!

You would be better off reading a book, YouTube is a dogs breakfast.

I’m pretty sure that applies to any topic on YouTube. I’ve already got a couple of books too.

Was the swarm from this colony?

Whilst the population seems plentiful,
I can’t say the capped brood pattern is impressive. The colony might be wanting to supersede the queen.

Or you could just have a ‘swarmy’ strain of bees.

@fred I probably should have been clearer on that, the swarm was totally unrelated to this first colony. It seems to have been a total fluke that the swarm landed out the back of our house in the same week we bought the nuc (who are set up on our 5 acre block, a few km away from where we live in town).

The population numbers do seem good, but you’re right about the capped brood - there’s not a whole lot of it. I wish I’d taken better note of how it all looked when I transferred them from the nuc to the brood box - I feel like there was more capped brood then, but who’s to say. I think it’s totally possible they’re looking to supersede her, in which case I’d be happy to let them do their thing.

Reading through all this I feel like I’m looking in a mirror. :joy:. We are in outer Melbourne on 15 acres. So many similarities but 2 nucs not a nuc and a swarm. Almost the same timing. Didn’t checkerboard. I had two new queens though. Supplier a good honest man so no reason to think otherwise. Had photography mishap so no photos first round. Which as you say is frustrating. Got photos second round.

I am sure when I transferred one Nuc to the brood box that I saw a freshly uncapped queen cell. (No photos) That hive has become Queenless. I was super careful and gentle and the process of moving was really smooth and gentle. The other hive is doing well.

Have read several good books cover to cover and back again and picked two good YouTube channels including Fred Dunn, to watch and read endless articles on the net. Nothing like real hands on and in these lock down times there is little direct help available.

My dilemma was to follow advice from two professional bee keepers and transfer a brood frame from the stronger but still forming hive (which is not really allowed) and allow them to keep going and hopefully requeen or maybe just combine the two, newspaper method, which I’m not sure is any more legal or just buy a new nuc to combine. I followed advice and fingers are crossed. I also ordered a new queen as insurance.

I agree that the general consensus is no consensus :joy:. Even the two pros gave me slightly differing advice. One said shake the bees off the frame before transferring and the other said leave them on. I compromised. I gave the frame one shake and about half the bees came off. The others went across. I saw the queen on a different frame so was happy that she was safe.

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Sorry Casey I only just checked in but it looks like the queen that came with the Nuc has been superseded For some reason. In the photos I see a lot of capped brood but no evidence of larvae or eggs. Those queen cells will have hatched by now and the queen going through the phase of hardening up/mating/developing further/beginning to lay eggs. I’d resist the urge to inspect for another 3-4 weeks.

Out of curiosity where are you? Williams/Narrogin way?

How is the other swarm going?

Adam

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Thanks Adam, I agree that all signs seem to be pointing toward them superseding the original queen that came with them. I took one more tiny peek in there following the thorough inspection and the queen cells were still yet to hatch, so they definitely should have by the end of this weekend. I’ll leave them be and check back in a few weeks. When I took that peek I spotted less capped brood, some larvae, and hardly any eggs. The eggs I did spot looked to be x2 per cell - could that have been some kind of laying worker situation already?

Spot on, Narrogin way is exactly where I am!

The swarm is going gangbusters! I haven’t gotten around to posting any pics yet. It’s been great having them as a point of reference when looking at the nuc colony. They’ve been drawing out a lot of comb, and a few days ago they had a lot of capped brood, eggs etc. I haven’t spotted the queen but she’s definitely in there and laying well!

You’re right, so many similarities! No such thing as easing into it :laughing: At least it’s a sure way to learn a lot right from the start. Finger crossed for your hive! I need to check out Fred Dunn’s YouTube channel.

I’m really glad that the swarm showed up, because they’ve been the model of productivity since they settled in! I thought I was going crazy finding it so difficult to spot eggs in my nuc colony… But that’s probably because there were hardly any in there! I opened up the swarm colony, pulled out a frame and it was absolutely covered in eggs, larvae and capped brood.

Oh I feel so much better. Really struggling to see eggs on the brood frames. Between ageing eyesight and veils and light angles and… it’s also a bit cool here still so every time I open up I feel under pressure to get them safely closed up again. I’m looking forward to some nice warm, dry days to have a more relaxed proper look with a camera and with any luck a really live mentor :joy:. Good luck to you too. It is fun and I am fascinated. Fred is gold!!!

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I’m going to have to hunt down some kind of mentor or bee buddy as well! I know there are beekeepers out here, but I don’t know any of them and we don’t have any bee groups running nearby. I’m absolutely hooked on the bees already, I’m prepping a third hive at the moment, just “in case” we need it at any point :sweat_smile:

Here are a couple of pics from the swarm colony last weekend. They’re so keen to draw out comb that they started to hang two sheets of it from the one frame! I’m going to have to keep an eye on that, but we’ve got frames of wax & wire foundation spaced in between these foundationless ones (leftovers from installing the nuc in our Flow brood box). I tried to gently push them back in line a little better, but there’s brood in there now so I didn’t feel confident to mess around with it too much.


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That’s awesome. Would love to see pictures of your set up.

I plan to go up to 5 at some stage but will get the hang of these two for now. I expect next spring I will have to split to prevent swarming so that will be a good time to double up. You are a tad warmer and a little further North there so probably all starts earlier than here. I doubt with my setbacks, that I will even get the flow super on this year. I have WSP supers ready to go on for the bee’s honey for winter. Just have to get through these first issues for now. Hope you find a mentor. These forums are so useful though.