Unsure of progress, would love some advice

Would love some advice/guidance for a newbee (haha). I did an inspection on 2022-02-04T02:00:00Z. It’s about 2 months since I received and installed a bee package. It had around 3 frames with bees and brood.

Only 4 of the 10 frames have any major activity. There seems to be lots of activity on those frame, and I can see what I think is capped worker brood. I didn’t see any larvae but I did on the last inspection a few weeks ago.

A few questions:

  1. Will the Melbourne heat (averaged 30 degrees C for a few weeks) have any impact on the health of the hive?
  2. Should I be expecting more activity after ~9 weeks?
  3. Are there any observations you can make from the photos below (positive or negative)?
  4. Could the bees be hungry, and in need of additional nectar/fondant?
  5. I’m yet to see the queen… should this be a concern?
  6. The pest tray has plenty of what appear to be small hive beetle. Couldn’t see any in the hive itself. Is this a lot for the time the hive has been in place? (I cleaned it during the inspection)
  7. I saw lots of bees linked together between the two most active frames. Is this festooning? Is this a good sign?

I need to up my photo game! the pics are stills from a video… and I need to work on getting clearer full shots of each frame. But below are some pics from the inspection.

This is an important newbie question to ask BeeMike

It appears to me that your hive lacks the resources to thrive (starvation) and perhaps a beetle problem exists. After one month with optimal conditions, you should have at least 8 frames of bees and brood. Every subsequent month, you should have another full box of bees…so from your timing description you should have two boxes full of bees and brood…and depending on the time of year, the queen excluder should be on and the first Flow super added. This is the natural hive progression rate when conditions are ideal…and if nature doesn’t provide, then it’s incumbent on the beekeeper to do so…the extent depending on his/her goals in beekeeping.

Great to see you are using wax foundation…and please just consider the first few years as the low point in your learning curve…you will only become a beekeeper by these real life experiences. And most importantly you are asking the questions.

Like you, my preferences are to use packages to initiate a hive. And introducing a package to 10 frames of foundation requires special attention to detail. Here are photos illustrating a time-tested method to get your package on foundation off to a good start:

In the second photo, zoom into the tops of the frames…if you look closely, you will see built-out comb that is actually capped. The bees have processed sugar syrup and it’s stored as honey around the brood area…also I supplement my package with a protein patty.

When you pull out a frame from a package install one month after installation, this (above) is what it can look like.

On this forum Australian beekeepers have stated that insulation on the top of the hive helps out during extreme hot weather…and this makes sense to me. Of course, I have a different reason to use insulation in my Canadian climate…but the dynamics of brood expansion are likely to be the same.


I have some observations to share, while answering some questions, while totally agreeing with @Doug1 's reply.

My first observation was the lack of food, which answers Q4

My second observation was the dark colored roof, which should get hot in the sun, compared to white. To take care of Q1, anything we can do to help the bees cool their hive during hot weather will be a benefit.

In relation to Q5. There’s no need to spot the queen as long as you’re seeing early stage worker brood.

Q6. No that’s not an excessive number of hive beetles. I would check the tray once a fortnight. You’ve done the right thing in using wax foundation. It helps in producing a strong worker population, that will prevent beetles from laying eggs in the brood.

Q7. Yes it’s festooning & is most likely the bees producing wax, which is a good sign, however they need honey in order to do that.

You could be in the same boat as me up in the Sunshine Coast with a lot of recent rain. A new colony will struggle to get the ball rolling under those conditions, without supplemental feeding.

A great video to watch & learn from is “City of the Bees” on Youtube. It shows the bees air conditioning their hive (Q1), as well as producing wax. Q7 brought the video to mind.


Thanks @Doug1, really appreciate your feedback. As a newbie I’m keen to learn as much as I can and appreciate fully that this will be a steep learning curve.

It seems like I need to get some extra nutrition in for the girls asap. In your pics, is that a feeder frame to the left? What are you feeding them with in that frame? Sugar syrup?

I might invest in a feeder frame and some pollen substitute and try and sort that out today.

Hopefully the really hot days are behind us. I will have a look at some options for insulation.

Really appreciate the advice. Hopefully I can be posting again in another few weeks with a much stronger colony!


Great to have your feedback @JeffH. You’re a trusted advisor on here!

I am glad you don’t believe it is an out of control situation with the SHB. I will keep a more regular check on the pest tray and ensure to clean it more regularly too.

Interesting thought about the colour of the roof. The hive is in partial shade, but that could be a problem heat wise I guess. Hadn’t really thought about that!

I am going to now focus on nutrition for the colony and see how that improves things.

The video is a great recommendation; thanks, I’ll be watching that as a have my breakfast this morning!

Thanks for your advice and for being a regular contributor in this forum. It’s been really valuable to follow your comments on other posts too.


Hi & thank you Mike. That video has a lot of great information, considering it only goes for just over 20 minutes, without the preaching. We need to watch it several times, in order to appreciate everything they’re showing.

By increasing the nutrition, you should see an expansion of comb building & brood rearing, however it all takes time because the colony can only work as fast as the size of the population will allow it to.


A couple of ziplock bags filled with 1:1 water:sugar syrup are a quick and easy, low cost method of feeding bees. I lay them on a recycled flat plastic meat tray on the top of the frames and then make several short slits in the bags - to allow a few drops of syrup out at a time without a bee being able to climb into. They will suck it dry as needed. Check in a couple of days and replace until you see wax drawn and ample resources stored. Good luck!


That truly was fascinating to watch, thanks again! Although you’re right about the preaching part :joy:

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That’s a wonderful tip, thank you! Do you think it would work just as well inside the roof space with the plug in the top cover removed?

Yes this does work. It’s what I was doing when I first acquired my bees. You could dribble a small amount through the hole initially, just to let them know it is there.


Thanks for the tip @Karby. The girls have a new food source and were immediately interested. A healthy sign I guess!


Good to hear -so glad it’s working out for you. Yes, putting it in the roof is a great way to go. I think they’ll get through a bag pretty quickly if they are hungry. Feeding them in the hive saves them the energy of flying and sourcing nectar away so it’s very helpful when they are struggling.


Big thanks @cathiemac, and apologies for missing you on the last thanks post. Forums add so much value; the collective wisdom here is making my learning curve much less steep, and therefore far more enjoyable. Bees and beekeeping are both so fascinating. Learning something new every day :slight_smile:


Here’s a handy info page on what other feeder options are available. Note that it’s likely a legal requirement in Vic to not open feed i.e. only feed the colony inside the hive.

If you’re in a dearth, avoid spilling any honey outside the hive that might trigger robbing activity as this colony could be potentially at risk in this regard.

As a beginner I recommend closely observing the behaviour at the entrance of the hive too. For example, look out for pollen pockets to understand if there is pollen available locally, and take note of how frequently you see them.


So yes those are frame feeders in the top two photos and they are filled will sugar syrup…a saturated solution…as thick as you can prepare it. It takes a lot of energy for bees to build out a box of foundation and if you look carefully, the frame feeders are different capacities…top photo is 1 gallon, second photo is larger i.e. 2 gallon. The two gallon feeder with the saturated sugar syrup solution is probably equivalent to about 30 or more of those baggies filled with 1:1 syrup. I use this size of feeder when my bees are exposed to a period of inconsistent/non-existent honey flow during the all-important springtime brood buildup…it’s amazing how much honey and pollen they consume just to raise brood, never mind the obstacle of building out frames of foundation.

But there are always caveats in beekeeping. An example of over feeding a package is illustrated in the photo below…the queen that has just got laying to capacity suddenly comes to a crashing halt…no place to lay.

Easy solution…remove the frame feeder, spread the brood nest apart and just insert a new frame of foundation…and continue to do what you can to prevent the brood nest from further becoming honey bound.

All the while doing the above, you have to see what’s going on around you…are natural sources of honey and pollen starting to show up in your unique part of the world? Chatting with other beekeepers in your immediate area about there observations is a great help.


Great advice, thanks @Bianca!

Great advice there, and good to hear how you feed your bees when needed.

I spoke with the beek who supplied my bees, and he has also had difficulties with his hives falling behind this season. He believes this is the extreme weather (several weeks of 30+ temperatures) and then rain, which has disrupted pollen sources.

I have fed sugar syrup and will keep topping this up, and am waiting on some pollen patties to arrive and will feed those too. I’m going to try a top feeder and see how that works out, but will consider a frame feeder if more heavy duty feeding is needed ongoing.

Hopefully the hive can bounce back and fill out before winter :slight_smile:

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I’ve just given the girls a 300g protein patty, any ideas how long it will take them to consume it? I will check in a few days but any guidance would be great.

They’ve smashed all of the sugar syrup they were given on both occasions, now to make another batch to fill their new top feeder.


There’s no telling how fast they’ll consume feed. Checking in a few days will be your best indicator. From your pic and how fast they’re taking syrup I think you’ll see a good dent in that brick very soon.