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Worker carrying an egg in mandible

Hi I’m a novice beekeeper with a single new hive which is just under a month old. As I started it late in the season I have kept up some sugar syrup feeding. This has been placed in the empty super box with a see through cover over the feeder. When topping up I noticed a worker with an egg in its mandible running around the top of the feeder. I watched for about 2 minutes and have a photo and video of it. I don’t understand why the worker: a) would have an egg in its mandible as the queen lays into specific sized cell, b) why would it hang around in the feeder and not head down to the brood box virtually straight away, c) is this an aberrant action that suggests a problem in the hive?.

Unfortunately I couldn’t upload the video in its present format.

Hi @Robert_Coles,

First of all, bees are not ants. Workers are not normally involved in moving eggs around. I guess, it will remain a mystery, why worker was with an egg in this particular place, but couple of examples may help to understand what happens with eggs in hive.

Queen produces eggs continuously. If she does not find a next available cell in time to lay it, she still produces an egg and drops it. Usually workers eat such eggs.

Another example. Stores are very high on bees’ list of priorities. If there is not enough room, workers may start to remove eggs from cells to put honey in.

Again, these are just examples and other possibilities exist too. But it would be interesting to know what is happening inside your hive?

PS Uploading video to Youtube and posting link here is a popular option :slight_smile:

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum. :blush:

This forum will not allow video files to be uploaded, but there is a work-around. Upload your video to YouTube and make sure that you allow it to be “Public” there. Then copy the share link from YouTube and paste it here. It will show a representative photo on the page here and a clickable link to watch the video. :wink:

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Thank you for your reply. I am a novice bee keeper and thought this behaviour unusual. The hive was set up on 15/2/21. The hive is 8 frame and I placed the queen cage on frame 2 (starting 1 as first frame on right side) rather than the middle. Mistake one. as I found out. The queen cage was removed on day 4 with 6 frames having honeycomb and brood cells being formed. Most bees were on frames 1-3 and no wax on frames 7-8. Inspection 2 on day 10 showed all 6 frames essentially covered with comb some capped with white capping only, I couldn’t see the eggs but thought I saw some larvae. After seeing the bee with egg in mandible I did an inspection the following day, day 21.
Frames 7 and 8 still comely clear of comb. Frames 1-5 had brood cells and frame 6 had only storage comb. More cells were capped than previously and distribution of brood was as expected with max brood Frames 2 then 1 and 3 centrally placed. So I took it as essentially as expected. I couldn’t identify the queen but I was looking more at the brood cells and distribution. I did notice in brood areas not all cells were contiguously covered. Leading upto day 18-19 sugar syrup usage was dropping then increased and has continued at a mild to moderate level ie 1kg’s worth of syrup lasting 4 days.
I had wondered that the bee with the egg could have been moving it to frames 4-6 ie middle of hive away from the busy area around 1-3. I also wondered if I should move one of the clear frames to position 1 and then move all the frames along so the brood was more in the middle but I decided the bees would work it out and not to interfere.
I have uploaded the video as suggested https://youtu.be/59IsPljrFaA.
Thanks for your help.

Thank you for your help. Video link on another reply.

This is what I had in mind, but yours works too:

It is better not to keep syrup more than 2-3 days on hives. The longer it is there, the greater chances it goes bad. Reduce amount of syrup prepared or store half in fridge.

No. Workers use other methods. Mainly by controlling queen to make her lay eggs in an area they see fit.

One of the main limiting factors in comb building in a new hive is amount of young nurse bees and it limits amount of brood they can feed and keep warm. There is also a strong connection between amount of brood they feed and amount of wax they produce. More brood - more wax. Another is pollen. It is the main source of protein for brood. As a result you have limited comb building capacity until your colony will grow large enough to the point they need more room and can afford to build it.
In your situation there is one more limiting factor. It is autumn, which is not the most stimulating time of the year for colony to increase.

Practical application of the boring stuff above. Colony puts food frames (honey and pollen) on sides of the nest. You have frames 1-5 taken by nest and frame 6 is a food frame (limit of the nest). I guess, it is clear what colony thinks about your frames 7 and 8. They don’t need it at the moment.

What to do?

Option 1. Nothing.
Option 2. Force them to increase the nest size. But such things usually done in spring time in preparation to major flow. Not at the end of the season.

More questions:
How your entrance is made? Is it a one full slot or reduced, and if so, what is the size and position of opening?

Your nest sits next to the wall. Is it warm or cool wall (exposed to sun or or in shade)?

What about pollen stores, do you see plenty? If not, you may need to provide this part of food too.

Maybe, but when I add ascorbic acid to adjust pH to 4 or less, I have never seen mold. Even after 6 weeks. Plus Vitamin C is good for bees and present in nectar. Just my 2 cents worth… :wink:

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Thank you for the information. I have decreased the volume and now are topping up every 2-3 days. The hive is a flow form 2. The entrance is a slot probably 80% the width of the 8 frame brood box. I realise the timing of starting the hive not the best hence why I am feeding still. Do I get pollen from a supplier? Rob

The hive is in the garden partially shaded most of the day. Full sun 3-4 hours.

Oh, and next we will start to boil water and wash feeders! Where does it end? :rofl:

But you are right. Adding organic acids works well. I never seen any information about benefits of adding ascorbic acid particularly, but why not?
It was a trial on use of oxalic, tartaric, lactic and acetic acids as an additive to autumn feed in the end of 70’s in Apiculture Research Institute. All acids were added in proportion of 0.3 g per 1 kg of sugar. All acids reduced syrup consumption during autumn by 19.6%. However, syrup with acetic acid was capped first, syrups with oxalic and lactic acids were slowest in ripening. Best wintering was achieved on acetic acid. It reduced amount faeces accumulated in bees’ digestive system. Bees wintering on clean sugar had on average 27.9 mg per bee. With addition of acetic acid - 22.9 mg. Other acids did not make any difference. All acids reduced winter die off, but best result was with acetic acid. Also, this group had 9.5% more brood in spring. After that, in 80’s use of acetic acid for autumn feeding became a standard recommended practice in USSR.

When I said “goes bad”, I was concerned more with yeasts than mould. But both can grow at pH 4 and a bit blow. So, I think, yes, acidity may have an inhibiting effect but not a guaranty. And here we come back to tedious boiling and washing :weary:

Again, methods to force bees to expand brood nest are used in spring or early summer, but you may try this one and see what happens. It is less invasive than splitting a nest, but it might work. Method is used as a single step expansion of brood nest in horizontal hives. Idea is based on tendency of bees to have brood closer to the entrance, where brood has more of fresh air and store honey far from entrance where it is easier to protect. How it works practically in your case. Close entrance leaving 7-10 cm opening on a side where your frames 7 and 8 are sitting at the moment. Move your frame 6 (honey only frame) to protect it from robbing into position 1 pushing the rest without changing order towards frames 7 and 8. This may force them to start laying eggs closer to the entrance and store syrup or honey in cells that become available after brood hatching further from the entrance. If this works, nest will be moving at pace the colony happy with and if it doesn’t, you are going to have the same situation you are in now. And the opening you have at the moment is rather too big for a weak colony anyway.

It could be hard to buy irradiated fresh pollen, but it would be the best thing mixed with honey as patties. Another option that is easier to buy from supplier - a substitute. They have different recipes, but usually it is a mix predominately of low fat soy flour, some pollen, honey, vitamins and microelements. ‘Bee build sausage’ is an example of such product. Bees could be reluctant to eat it. I had a situation when they cut and threw it out off the entrance. What helped - forming patties as about 1 cm thick saucers and filling them with syrup. Bees start to take syrup and continue with patty itself. You may put them into your feeder as in tray to reduce a mess. Cover and cup are not needed for solid products.

Great Thanks. All things to try and observe what happens.

Ok, Thanks I will try this week after the rain stops tumbling down, it warms up a little and most of the hive out foraging.

No problem. It would be interesting to hear how it went.