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What is it with my brood?


Today my second hive acted “strange” so my mum called me to come over. The hive stands on her terrace. She sent me these pics:

I thought this was already a swarm and called the bee keeper I got the hive from on monday (and put a second brood box filled with foundation UNDER the 1. on tuesday). He told me he didn’t see swarm cells when he moved the frames from his box into mine and I should take a look into the hive. Which I did to find no swarm cells, a busy, healthy queen and lots of eggs and larvae of all ages. Drone frame was nearly completely drawn and some first brood on it, not yet capped. Bees outside the hive were fanning frantically with their behind raised (I don’t know the correct english expression for this behaviour). I already found out that those might have been the new foragers orienting. We had bad weather on tuesday and wednesday, so they couldn’t fly and all the upcoming foragers had to wait until today. Is that plausible?

They kept fanning after I opened the hive. Most action was in the front right corner, which was hit by the sun. Wasn’t easy to insepct those frames, the girls just wouldn’t move aside… :wink:

Then I made some pics from things I don’t know what to think about.

Who or what makes such holes into the top bar of the frame? I immediately thought of wood worms…?

These are not swarm cells, right? There was nothing in them. Are they play cups?

The upper row of cells: Are they drone cells or defective brood? Normal brood frame, worker cells so far.

Are these pupae defective and being cleaned out next? I meant it was not usual that uncapped brood was so far developed, but I don’t have the experience so far… At which point will the bees cap the brood? They won’t be that white just before hatching, right?

Hope that I didn’t mess everything up… I put one brood comb from the edge of the brood nest into the 2. box and filled the gap with new foundation, just as I did with my first hive a few days before. That made the 1. hive bees start drawing out on the foundations, I hope the 2. hive will do the same.

Honeyflow should be quite ok, but it’s cold and windy. Today was a good flight day, but the weekend is supposed to be below 0°C at nights and not above 5°C over day… I guess I’ll feed both hives a little?


They look like emergency queen cells? the one to the right looks like a larvae in it

  • Have you sighted the queen?
  • Did you see any eggs?
  • Are there less bees in the hive?
    Possible they are wanting to swarm/ or you lost the Queen


I saw the queen and I saw lots of eggs. If there were less bees than before I can’t tell, I got the hive only 4 days ago. There was nothing in those round cells.


That top row looks like drone to me.


Looks like a white shadow in the one - could be a trick of the light.

Is the Queen Clipped and /or marked?

If she is there and they have plenty of room - breakdown those queen cups - Normally I would leave them but you have only had them 4 days - last thing you want is them absconding.

Check very carefully there are no eggs in those cups


@adagna adam there are drone cells below the 3 queen cups yes you are correct

The next picture down is a row of Drones along the top row


Yes she is marked (blue for 2015, so she should be strong and healthy). I checked all those cups very carefully in the sunlight, they are empty.


Break down the cells and get rid of them just in case


That means I have to open the hive again tomorrow? I’m scared to do that too often and cause more damage than it’s worth… :worried:


Is the weather warm at present?
Are they in a sheltered spot from the wind?

If you are absolutely sure there are no eggs - leave them

There have been cases where workers will put an egg into a Queen Cup - especially if they are superseding

Was the cup there when you got them or is that your first look?

This is the reason I suggested tearing it down; if they want a Queen cell they will extend another.
With it there you will never be certain


No leave them alone. They are play cups.Bees make them all the time and if you knock them down they will just make more straight away. No sense in going into the box again.
The only time you need to do something is if there is a larva swimming in royal jelly there.
Those cells being capped are normal


The weather was nice today, but tomorrow the forecast says 9°C max. They are not very sheltered from wind, but there’s a roof over it (the upper balcony) and grids (Rankgitter, I don’t know the word, a wooden grid for plants to grow on) with blackberry, roses and stuff around the terrace.
This was my first look. I got the closed magazine and only took a glimpse under the lid on the first day, then put the 2. brood box under the 1. on the second day.




Thanks a lot! :slight_smile:


Your English is better than my French


Oh, my French is horrible ^^


Without video of the upper two pictures, it is hard to comment. They may be bearding or washboarding. Either way, it doesn’t look like swarm behavior, so I wouldn’t worry about that.[quote=“AngoraAngy, post:1, topic:6541”]
Bees outside the hive were fanning frantically with their behind raised (I don’t know the correct english expression for this behaviour)

That is exactly the correct English - fanning. They look like their are fanning Nasonov pheromone to guide the foragers home. Nice healthy-looking hive! :smile:

Some kind of beetle. Just watch it carefully. Make it a priority to retire that frame when the hive is strong.

Respectfully, I disagree with @Valli. I assume that frame is on its side in the photo (bottom of the frame is really toward the left)? If you are sure they are empty, I think they are play cups. The position is wrong for supersedure cells. I wouldn’t tear them down either, just inspect in another week - you will soon know if there is a queen growing in there, and I don’t think it would hurt to wait a week.[quote=“AngoraAngy, post:1, topic:6541”]
Are they drone cells or defective brood?

Drone cells. The queen lays drones around the edge of the frames - the drone larvae like cooler temps.

They all look healthy to me. Don’t worry, be happy! :blush:

I wouldn’t do that personally, unless the hive was looking overcrowded, because it means the bees have to spread out more to keep the brood warm. Just using it as a “lure” means that you are risking brood getting abandoned and chilled. However, now that you have done it, why not just wait and see?

I think you are doing well. Don’t worry too much, looks like you have a nice normal healthy hive. :smile:


Thanks a lot! That relieves me… Washboarding is something I got to know just a few days ago. No, that was not it. I guess it might have been bearding then.

The hole in the top bar might be from wax moths, I learned in between. If so, what can I do to get those bastards out of my hive??? Of course I’ll melt down that frame asap… and all the others must be exchanged soon, too, they are all quite dark…

For the cups: Yes, I held the frame with one edge sitting on the box so I had a hand free for taking pictures. My mom tried, but she never got the point or the picture was blurred… I asked her to fotograph a bee with crippled wings to ask what this might be, but she didn’t get a proper picture… :unamused: So, as long as the cups are empty there’s nothing to worry about?

I know it was risky. Maybe it was useless. Beginners mistakes… In the first hive the brood was ok, I even think the queen had layed some fresh eggs in there. I hope the brood on the second hive’s “lure frame” will be ok too… If not, it was just a little bit, not completely filled with brood or eggs… That’s why I took an outer frame.

Thanks a lot! I’ll sleep better tonight… :slight_smile:


The crippled wing - were your bees treated for Varroa? DWV - deformed wing virus can give crippled wings - or it could be a birth defect - I had a couple in one of my hives recently. 1 or 2 are not a problem - if there are loads you will need to do IPM - integrated pest management - possibly varroa treatment - have you got a corflute/Corrigated/correx board under the hive?

wipe it down and look in a couple of days time to see if there are any varroa.

Did your seller check them over with you or have they been treated?


No, we didn’t check them together. But I’m sure he did a proper mite treatment. I’ll put the board in with some white paper towels on it and see if anything falls. Thanks for the hint! I really only saw that one crippled bee, but of course I didn’t inspect every single bee…