Strange goings on in the Beehaus

Summer has arrived (lets not hold our breaths as change is no doubt afoot) but for the past five days both humans and bees have been enjoying the sunshine. Sunny weather is great for bees as it means they can get out and about to collect pollen and nectar.

I have a new helper - my husband Jon has joined the 'bee geeks'
It has been a week since I last visited my bees and they have been busy girls - not in the way I would have liked though. When I had first put my nucleus into their new home three weeks ago I added two brood frames making seven in total. When I looked last night, the bees had started drawing the comb out on the second one, which is great.

The bees have started drawing the comb out on the new frame
When I picked up the next frame (the first of the original nucleus frames) I noticed something strange near the top - some cells that looked as though they have holes in them. My Omlet inspection book says I need to report pin poles straight away to the bee inspector but these don't look like pin holes as such but more like needle holes and it wasn't all over the frames, just in this spot. When I tweeted this picture earlier to @BeekeeperGuide he said it was a bit difficult to tell from the picture and also that some of the cells looked a bit sunken. This has really got me worried now and I've emailed the picture to a fellow beekeeper in my branch.

Should I be concerned about these holes?
Another thing in my hive that I need to sort out as soon as possible is the comb the bees are building underneath the frames. The beekeeper who I bought the nucleus from gave me the bees on frames that are shorter than the deep national frames the Omlet has been built for. This means that between the frames and the floor of the hive there is about a 10 to 15 cm gap. My instruction manual did warn me that the bees would build comb underneath and these would probably be drone cells. It said that this comb should be removed as a means of prevented verroa mites.

Frame with comb built underneath

On the next frame they had also built comb underneath
A closer look
On the second to last frame the bees had really been doing something quite bizarre - the comb wasn't lying flat but was sort of bumpy or wavy in places. Also there seemed to be some clusters of raised cells. I'm hoping these are are clusters of drone cells and not the makings of queen cells. I also thought the bees might have been doing this as the frames hadn't been placed very snuggly together, which were giving the bees space to build out a fault.

A cluster of some raised up drone cells...I think
When I came to the last frame I was pleased to feel that it was very heavy to lift as this means it has honey stores. I was right there was loads of honey on this frame. least there is something normal in this hive. 

This is the second time I hadn't spotted Queen Freddie. I also felt as if there were many  drones as well as drone cells on the frames. Does this mean that she's gone or the bees are trying to make a new queen in some of those unusual cells I saw?

I left my bees feeling very worried with so many questions that I wish I had a bee expert to consult. Should I be worried that I didn't spot eggs although I'm sure I spotted larvae? Is the brood pattern ok?

Having read my Omlet manual again when I got home it said that in the gap between the nucleus frames and the bottom of the hive you should place a cardboard box cut so that the top of the box is 5cm underneath the frames to prevent the bees building comb downwards. So, tonight or tomorrow night I'm going to go back and remove this comb and place a cardboard box underneath to encourage the bees to build outwards and not downwards. I'm also going to ask my mentor Nicky to come with as she may be able to shed some light on those strange holes in the cells. I've googled a bit today and I keep coming across the fact that it could be a symptom of foul brood. Before I get too carried away, I'm going to let my mentor take a look.

Stay tuned for the results…… 


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