New Journey into Bee keeping

Hi everyone.

I am writting this just after the fourth hive inspection on both hives. I had my two step children assist me today. I was particularly proud at how keen and interested they have been. All three of us felt safe and secure in our bee suits and week by week they will be able to watch the evolution and maturation of the two hives.

The stand out points for me on this inspection are that drawing out frames has slowed down as the bees have focused on nectar storage. The initial foundationless frames are looking more mature although i made a mistake with not alternating these with a foundation frames. Its resulted in the bees drawing the comb out of plumb/level, Call it a rookie mistake with me feeling rushed. Im thinking of harvesting the problematic corner of the two effected frames to to rectify this. This of which which shouldnt impact on thier stores a great deal. (Still too early though).

The flow hives (Carniolan) brood frames remain scattered with numerous commodities on each frame. Nectar, bee bread, capped and uncapped brood as well as capped honey stores. Im hoping to see a more consolidated and widespread laying pattern as time passes in this hive. The hive is indeed still young so i cannot ask for much different at this stage.

The Italian hive is effectively a week ahead of the flow hive and considering this ive seen less honey stores in the primary brood box, the amount of capped brood now translates to a hive that is going to explode in numbers. If you cross section each frame it draws a ball of capped brood and also with capped honey stores on the outside. The Italians have a incredibly healthy amount of bee bread stores to go with this. Beyond the brood cluster there is more honey.

I hope all of this information gives an accurate account on the hives as they currently are. Ive had a minor issue with ants but otherwise i feel both hives are powering along nicely.

In the weeks ahead im hoping to see the Carniolans do what the Italians have. Although the proof will indeed be in the pudding.

Until week five this is all from me and my bees.




If your comb goes a bit crooked just run a knife around the bad bit and push it back into position.



Ill be sure to give that a whirl the next time im inspecting.

Hi folks,

Supplimented both hives with sugar water this afternoon. Notes of what i saw are as follows -

(Italians - Langstrof Hive)

Primary broodbox -

8 frames occupied - frames 2 & 9 being drawn, frames 3 through to 8 with solid brood that now takes up almost full frames. Healthy brood of all stage large Bee bread stores accompanying this. Queen is pulling out all the stops with her laying so im thrilled.

Secondary Broodbox -

Most of the honey is now upstairs with the bees capping over numerous frames, 6 frames occupied while not all drawn out completley.

(Carniolan - Flow Hive)

Primary Brood box -

7 frames occupied with the queen laying in a spherical orientation through the frames with a solid pattern. Bee bread, and honey stores taking up the remaining space on each frame.


The carnolians are the first hive, four and a half weeks in to produce a cluster of drone cells. Is this a sign that the hive will produce queen (swarm) cells sooner rather than later and unavoidably swarm?. Quite extreme thinking but sources do say this specie does swarm in its first year.

Secondary Broodbox -

Six frames occupied with two frames fully drawn with a mixture of capped and uncapped honey.

Thoughts -

Its surpising how much progress can be seen after just a few days. I do need to leave the bees to thier own devices however I felt I needed to replinish sugar water due to the recent cold & wet weather. It was warmer today enough to open up the hives.

I have a mentor Beekeeper visiting on saturday. He initially supplied my hives so the time will help to settle any concerns, plans for supers and local issues that i need to be vigilant with.

If any of you have advice or questions i should ask Matt then i would gladly appeciate everything.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my post. I understand full well its quite lengthy.

All the best everyone,

Scol :wink:

Hi Scol, it sounds like your bees are doing well. The one thing that concerns me is the large area of drone brood, mainly because I’m in a hive beetle area. Bees, if allowed to will produce lots of drones as a means of passing on the genes of that colony. They do it when they think there is a likelihood of virgin queens needing to get mated. It doesn’t mean that a swarm will issue from that colony, however we need to be aware that it can. During those periods I do a lot of preemptive swarm prevention, which entails monitoring the populations & splitting & opening up the brood when necessary. I only use single brood boxes, which works well for me. Plus I use properly fitted wax foundation frames, so as to increase workers & keep drone numbers down.

Your mentor should be your primary source of information. It gets awkward when a mentor says one thing, then we say for example “yes but I read that we should do such & such”. I guess we should listen to all points of view, then make up our minds based on personal experience, even learning by mistakes.

@JeffH made a very important point there. Many years ago, my mentor told me that the colony starts making lots of drones each year, but that happens about 6-8 weeks before the first swarms. So for us here in California, we start seeing drones in the second half of December, and then the first swarms issue forth in late January to mid-February.

It is always good to pay attention to the drone population! They don’t make honey, but they do tell you about the “mood” of the hive :wink:

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Hi everyone.

I am really happy with the two hives progress. The cluster of brood in the flow Hive wasnt overly large - 75mm in width. With capped worker brood on the outside … obviously the workers initiated this because the cells were raised which kind of upsets me because the frames comb now has this raised crater produding out. Which may have consequences for the adjacent frames that are being drawn.

Just seems alot of progress and growth is happening all at once. So my mind is ironically abuzz with bee thoughts.

Thank you for all the advice with my latest concerns. At this point swarming is my major focus until i find something else thats effecting the hives in the mean time.

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Greetings everyone,

Today Matt visited and we all performed an inspection on the two hives.

We had the whole family out with this all in our beesuits.

The italians have exploded in population with quite a few of the the capped brood frames seen in the last inspection sited as empty with fresh eggs being laid by the queen. The Italians seem to be in high gear with laying and overall brood growth, so Matt actually decided to pull two frames of good yield capped brood and inserted them into the flowhive, the aim with this is to give them a kick forward with hive numbers and this is why starting with two hives is highly recomended, he mentioned that there would be no issue with italian new bees in the carny hive, as they would accept the new bees as thier own.

We also checker boarded the frames as much as we could to optimize the bees drawing frames. The other key point of note is that we have installed the flow super to maximise space. The overall sight forward from here is that the two hives are focused on colony numerical growth, while also drawing frames which ill rotate for honey production later down the line.

Langstrof Italian hive -

Primary broodbox - Frames 1 & 10 inside faces drawn while mosty fresh. Frames 2 through to 9 consistant with the majority brood, perimeter honey, bee bread and nectar stores. Brood of all stages together with the Queen sighted on this inspection. (Two brood frames pulled to suppliment the Flow hive with two fresh drawn comb frames from the flow hive taking thier place).

secondary brood
Six frames that are drawn with four utilised with honey. Pulled the heaviest laiden one and installed this in primary brood for immediate stores - substituted with a fresh foundation frame.

(frame feeder has been exchanged out for two fresh foundation frames).

super - purchased 3rd box and stored away (requires painting). Will install later down the line.

Flow Hive - Carniolan

primary Boodbox

7 frames occupied with evidence of drawing out the frames I rotated through. Two Italian brood frames installed to kick forward hive numbers in due course. Healthy honey, bee bread and nectar stores on the perimeter of these frames.
Nice and healthy brood of all stages no queen sighted but not necessary, saw hatching drones. (Interesting since the italians are stronger but the carnys are content to invest resources in drones).

Secondary broodbox

Six frames drawn with four utilized with honey of varyinng quantities. Capped and uncapped.

Flow Super

Flow Super installed, Matt has checker boarded normal foundation frames in between three flow frames with the intent in expediting the bees drawing out frames. It will also help the bees get used to new flow frames over the course of time. Whether this action is premature remains to be seen. Sugar water will remain on this hive to suppliment the secondary main focus which is drawing foundation. Will be checking this hive often because of the orientation of these frames and the nature the bees may draw thier “structures.”

plans going forward

The two hives may have both supers going in between christmas and new years. Provided everything is smooth sailing up until then. I may get to harvest my first frame of honeycomb around this time also. I have my eye on one and its still coming along nicely.

In the mean time ive switched out the spare foundationless frames for foundation ones to help the bees push on. If i can do everything for them to build numbers then that gives them numerous advantages going forward.

This is such a fullfilling and satisfying interest and the rewards are flowing in beyond what
I initially expected starting out. If i do right by my bees then the good moments, satisfaction and rewards will keep on coming. For me thats what my main goals been. The honey is ultimatly a fantastically good end result of this and by no means the main interest for all of us here.

Thank you all for reading this and i wish you all the best.

Kind regards,



If you are interested, I believe that the Reverend, who invented the hive type in 1851 to 1852, spelled his name “Langstroth”


He also came up with the concept of “bee space” which helps to ensure that our hives have more straight comb and less propolis than skep hives would. Smart guy - modern beekeepers owe him a lot!

Thank you for your detailed update. Based on my own experience, I would predict that the Italians would move faster than Carnies. They are both great types of bee though, you have chosen well!


Well done Scol. I like your mentor’s thinking, especially adding foundation frames in between the flow frames.

I have another correction to add to @Dawn_SD 's. Bees, drones & queens emerge. It’s the eggs that hatch. Dawn first pointed this out. Now I automatically say “emerge” instead of “hatch”.


I guess i fell into those two corrections … in any case my correct wordings and spelling will come im sure.

Have great rest of your weekend folks :wink:


I suppose the concept is that eggs have a shell and a single cell to start with. When that embryo develops enough, it hatches. If it needs to undergo another enclosed development/maturation process, as most insects do, it creates a “cocoon” around itself. That is not the same as the egg structure, because there are lots of organized cells making it happen and creating the new nurturing space. So as biologists, we say that larvae “emerge” from cocoons, because they were created by the larva, not by the mother of the insect.

Hope that makes sense! :blush:


That most certianly makes ample sense. Thank you for the detailed corrections @Dawn_SD & @JeffH.


Minor update - flow hive -

replenished sugar water and moved a frame that encompasses honeycomb up above the queen excluder to prevent brood from being established inside. With a established frame up top the may begin drawing the flow frames.

Langstroth -

Quickly sighted the top brood box and the bees have truly exploded in numbers. To the level that they are now occupying all the secondary broodbox’s frames. Frames are partially drawn however. Resources is the only thing holding this hive back now.

This has taken me aback and i now feel out of sorts because my intended italian super is still unpainted.

One makeshift rectification is switching frames out but goodness me the Italians have blown away my expectations.

Is throwing the carniolans flow super on the Langstroth hive a mad idea in the interim? Its okay to tell me to shelf the idea. :joy:

I think it’s a good idea.

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Question, if you are putting supers on why are you still feeding or am I missing something?


The italians no longer are being supplimented with sugar water.

The flow hives Carniolans however are around 6 out of 10 frames occupied in the second brood box. Personally i felt this was a tad premature adding the flow super but i also trusted my mentors experience.

We placed the flow super on to try with an attempt farming and rotating drawn frames. With an increased frame capacity we hoped the foundation frames along wth a feeder would entice the bees up into some of the flow frames.

We know that the queen does have the capacity to lay heavy brood so its a bee numerical factor at play here thats limiting this hive. We felt that it wouldnt be long before they explode in numbers also.

Took advantage of the clearing weather to open the hives, the past few days has been raining considerably.

Both hives have now occupied thier primary and secondary brood boxes. The flow super i installed prevously has remained untouched.

The Italians have gone ahead and produced drone cells in the foundationless frames up top. They are considerable in number. Fresh comb appears as though the workers are influencing this because all the other frames are naturally smaller with foundation.

I dont know whether i should be concerned about the numbers of the drones. Otherwise the Italian hive is going well. Honey stores have margianly dropped on account of the wet weather.

The Carniolans have caught up to the Italians with all 20 frames occupied. I suspect that the carnies have been foraging while the italians have been happy to just cluster up and feed on stores. This hive has recent nectar stores. So this is quite a difference in the behavior of the two hives, Im seeing alot less in the way of drone cells, i have however encountered what i believe to be thier first queen cells. Three in total located on the initial mound that was drone cells.

I ended up scraping this entire mound off, the carny engineers can repair this for normal brood hopefully. I dont know if this will shake the instinct to swarm but i also checkerboarded a few empty foundation frames in the established brood. And also gave them thier flow super back which the italians left untouched.

I hope everyone and thier bees are going well. Until next time thats all from me.

It’s normal for bees to build a lot of drone comb when given the opportunity. They produce as many as they can without compromising the welfare of the colony. The more drones they produce, the better the chances of that colony passing on it’s genes. This is only while there is a possibility of virgin queens needing to get mated. Otherwise they leave the cells empty or fill them with honey.

I discourage large areas of drone brood, on account that drones don’t defend against hive beetles. It makes matters worse when a lot of recently emerged drones hang around the drone brood, allowing beetles, unchallenged to lay eggs in the yet to emerge drone brood. I have seen the unmistakable damage that beetles do to drone brood, that workers were fortunately able to overwhelm before the beetles took over the whole hive.

I use & recommend single brood boxes, on account that the resources the bees put into a second brood box can be put into a honey super. Plus there isn’t the cost of the extra super & frames. So it’s a win, win situation.

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