I have been researching keeping honey bees for a few months now and I recently purchased two packages and gave them homes in Kenyan style ton bar hives. I did my first inspection today, 5 days after installing them, and I am hoping for some feedback.
The bees are building straight comb (I made triangular comb guides) and they are active. But, the combs weren't started at the entrance to the hive, but rather mid way through the hive. Should I move them? I have read conflicting information regarding this.
I fed them sugar to help them get established, but neither colony has consumed much of the sugar. Should I somehow remove it from the hive? I used dry sugar sprayed with water just poured in the bottom of the hive.
My biggest concern is that the comb is lighter in color, close to yellow. and appears to be honey comb, versus brood comb. A few spots on each comb had an amber colored substance in it, looked like honey. In some of the individual combs there were some solid particles, but I couldn't determine what they were. None of the combs were sealed. I couldn't locate the queen, I am new at this. Could the appearance of the comb indicate that the colonies are queen less? I know its unlikely that both are queen less and they both look very similar. Perhaps the queens were killed?
they would probably be in a pretty foul mood if they didn't have a queen. if you see pollen going in, you're in the clear. comb starts out pretty close to white and gets darker with time and use. don't worry about that.
moving bars: might be a case of move them now or move them later. come winter, you'll want the cluster of bees to start at one end or the other. this prevents them from starving at one end of the hive having moved there slowly from the center, while there's still plenty of honey at the other end.
Colour of the new comb is fine - all new comb is light cream in colour and darkens as the bees use it.
Personally I wouldn't be worrying about moving them at this stage of things - you hope they will expand and build comb throughout the hive, so as long as they are building straight there is nothing to worry about. You can adjust things later when they are a bit more firmly established.
As the others have said - queenless hives are pretty angry. If you put your ear to the hive and give it a tap do you hear contented bees or do they go nuts? The queen may be taking her time getting laying, but you should definitely be on the look out for eggs and some uncapped brood at this stage. Are you experienced at spotting eggs and uncapped brood? I remember it took me ages to get my eye in at the start - you need to get the frame positioned just right with the light to see down in the cells.
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Thanks everyone. My bees definitely don't seem angry. I will check in on them in a week or so and look for eggs. Im not experienced in this at all, but I will keep reading and looking at images of different stages of comb.
Ryan Kal wrote:Thanks everyone. My bees definitely don't seem angry. I will check in on them in a week or so and look for eggs. Im not experienced in this at all, but I will keep reading and looking at images of different stages of comb.
if you're not going to move the comb, I wouldn't bother looking for eggs. if you see pollen coming in, just let them be.