Second hive inspection. Thoughts please :)

Hi all from Sunny Victoria, We are new beekeepers so would really welcome your thoughts on the comments and photos attached…

We put our 5 frame nuc into our 8 frame brood box 4 weeks ago and did our first inspection after two weeks. We then took some of your advice and started feeding the bees and the photos today are from a further two weeks so 4 weeks since they’ve gone into the hive. The first two photos show two brand new frames at 2 weeks and then again at 4 weeks (with two weeks feeding). There has been significant development but I don’t know if this is “normal” two week development for late summer or slow or fast.

Ive also included somephotos of some of the frames and I’d love some advice on what we are seeing in the frames ie is it capped honey, why is some so Snow White (sugar syrup?) and others golden? We couldn’t see much brood and the bees were quite agitated so we didn’t want to shake the bees off. Also one of the frames has a bulging amount of comb… is this normal?

Would really welcome thoughts as to how it all looks… (still no queen but I presume she is there somewhere, since there is some brood.

Thanks in advance for your contributions :slight_smile:


I think your bees are going great. I can’t see any sign of disease. I notice that they started building from one side of the foundationless frames. They should be jammed up tight to the established frames in order for the bees to build directly under the middle of the frame. You can expect to see some bulging comb when you use foundationless frames. I would just trim it back to level with the frame, without compromising any comb the bees are raising brood in.

I also get snow white cappings, as well as golden cappings & I don’t feed my bees. It depends on what the bees are foraging on, as to what color the cappings turn out. It’s possible that the white cappings are a result of sugar syrup, in your case. I think I would cut back on feeding the bees, however it probably wont do any harm to keep it up.

PS after re-reading your questions & taking another look at the photos. To answer your question, “is it capped honey, why is some so Snow White?”. Yes that is capped honey. The capped brood will always have individual hexagons, while capped honey is not always so obvious. The darker color cappings over some of the honey is a result of color from the older darker frames blending in with the new cappings. However in the 3rd photo down, it appears that the older frame didn’t influence the color of the caps, probably because the bees built it out a bit.


Thanks so much, Jeff. So helpful to have your comments…


You’re welcome Tamara, the first thing I remember telling myself when I first started was that brood has individual hexagons, whereas honey doesn’t. However in your photos, there are individual hexagons visible on most of the capped honey, except for a couple of patches. It only just occurred to me that brood will always be the same depth. Whereas the depth of honey can vary depending on frame spacing & other factors that can result in deep cell honey in comb.

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Thanks Jeff.

How do you trim the bulging frames? What with… and what about the bees? Given this is the broom box, does it matter if they bulge a bit

It’s so exciting looking at the wonderful progress of your hive! Whoop! :smiley:

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Hi Tamara, I do it with a steak knife I keep in my truck, after removing the bees. If there’s a small bulge I want to remove, I’ll simply press it into itself using the flat surface of my hive tool. The honey dribbles down before the bees clean it up. A bulge doesn’t matter as long as you maintain the frame position, because it will correspond with a dent in the adjoining frame. It’s when you change things around in the brood box, as swarm management for example, that you might want to remove a bulge because you don’t want it to squash bees when you place a frame with a bulge next to a frame without a bulge. Or worse still, if two bulges meet. Apart from avoiding squashing bees, it’s also a hive beetle management strategy, because hive beetles will lay eggs in the squashed bees trapped between combs.

thanks Jeff. So once I’ve ascertained that the hive is proceeding well with the last two inspections since transfer, how often is the recommended time between inspections? Given they were so agitated yesterday, I wouldn’t want to disturb them any more than necessary. Also, given we are now going into Autumn, and given that I have one frame for them to develop, would you be confident that I don’t need to add another brood box this side of Spring. Just want to avoid overcrowding and swarms in next few months.

Also, re the steak knife to trim a bulge, would you recommend it be left alone for the time being? I’m not sure I’m confident enough to shake off all the bees to trim it.

If you have a well-lit smoker, you can smoke enough of them out of the way to trim it. :wink:

oh yes of course :slight_smile:

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Hi Tamara, I agree with @Dawn_SD in relation to the smoke. In regards to shaking the bees, it’s just a matter of holding a frame with both hands, then give it a gentle shake into the hive. That’s also something you can practice between inspections, without bees of course. I just make sure the queen isn’t on the frame before I shake bees off. Even if she is on there, a gentle shake wont hurt her.

As far as inspections go: you need to inspect as often as necessary. Only inspect if you have a reason to. If you find something in the tray or coreflute slider that rings alarm bells, you might need to inspect.

In relation to a second brood box & the start of autumn: I think I would make sure your bees have access to the roof. That will give the bees somewhere to expand into, if they need to. After that, I would lift the roof once a fortnight to monitor the progress.

I’m not sure about feeding at this stage, because the bees will probably use one or two brood frames for honey. If that happens over the next 2 months, you might like to crush & strain one for your own use. Alternatively, they might build comb in the roof & fill it with honey. You might be inclined to crush & strain that.

I helped a couple with a flow hive crush & strain 2 frames out of the brood before last winter. They were tickled pink with the process & outcome.

PS. Disclaimer: I only use wired frames with wax foundation. You’ll need to be more careful with comb in foundationless frames.

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Be careful with shaking such fresh comb though! I believe that the whiteness of that beautiful pure comb indicates that it’s too fragile for shaking. Especially for a beginner. If it did break off, it may even be too fragile to hold up with elastic bands (a cross comb technique).


Hi again Jeff,

So if all 8 frames are almost fully ‘combed’ in another couple of weeks, is there still lots of room within the hive? my hive is a hybrid flow hive so if I was to give them more room, it would be by adding the super but it has been suggested on this forum that you would never add the super in early Autumn but wait until Spring… so I suppose I’m a bit concerned that the hive might be too congested and my colony might swarm. Is there any risk putting the super on in next few weeks if the hive seems full to give them more room? It might mean we won’t harvest from the flow frames but as you say, maybe they will fill a frame or two of honey comb? which we could enjoy? If we do put the super on, will the bees still gravitate to the brood box for food etc in the cooler months?

Hi Tamara, I’m on the Sunshine Coast in Qld. Colonies can still swarm in the coming months up my way. I’d only be guessing about down your way. I would strongly recommend you take on board what I said about the bees having access to the roof cavity, & go from there. That roof cavity will accommodate quite a few bees. I do the same thing with a migratory lid with a hive mat. If the bees aren’t interested in moving up into the roof cavity, I know I’d be wasting my time in adding a honey super, especially heading into colder months

Hi again, I so appreciate the time you are taking to respond. I’m in Victoria so much cooler than where you are… but I’ll be visiting Noosa in July. Maybe I can visit you and your bees? Anyway, so I understand, I have a lid on my brood box, then a feeder over the hole and then the roof. Are you suggesting we remove the feeder so bees can get into the roof through the hole or do we remove the lid altogether? and then do I put the queen excluder on the frames to stop the queen going into the roof? Presumably its just to give the bees more room to move… and would I only do this AFTER all frames are fully combed? Do we then just cut off the honey from the roof and enjoy it?

Yes I was worried about that too :slight_smile:

You’re most welcome Tamara, I’d certainly welcome a visit in July.

I would suggest to stop feeding to see how the bees go without it. That would be in case you decide to take some honey for yourself before winter. You probably wouldn’t enjoy sugar syrup honey. I would leave the QE off with the hole in the crown board open. The queen will probable not go into the roof because the bees wont prepare any cells for her up there. Plus the bees will constrict the brood, which means they’ll create a decent honey arc above the brood & below the crown board. Therefore she wont venture above the honey arc, unless she’s wondering around in between egg laying. To cut the honey in comb out of the roof to enjoy yourself is what I was thinking of. There’s probably some nice photos of honey in comb out of the roof on this forum.


I second Bianca’s caution against shaking, jarring or turning frames with large amounts of brand new nectar filled comb! The photos are helpful and you did a great job getting them out to show - and maybe a little lucky :grimacing::crossed_fingers:

Meanwhile, everything looks great, Tamara :+1:

tamara My thoughts on your second hive inspection are this:

  1. The frames were beautifully built out and that comes from a beekeeper that’s somewhat skeptical of foundationless frames…good job!

  2. When I saw only capped brood and capped honey tightly surrounding that brood…and you mentioned you didn’t find the queen…a red flag was raised in my mind.

  3. The last frame you posted shows…to my eye…a mature queen cell imbedded into the comb (lower right hand side)…I suspect your hive may swarm in the near future.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news…it may be prudent to do a third inspection if it isn’t too late… :grimacing:

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