Monthly Archives: March 2011

The Latest From The Hives

I am never sure what I will find when I open a hive.  These are a few images from the latest foray into my troubled hive at school.  It emerged from winter sleepy and slow – and with a reduced population – perhaps 2000 bees in all.  But they had a queen, she was laying, and the bees that were there seemed determined.  Every few days I stopped by the apiary just to look for departures and arrivals and every time long moments would pass when I saw nothing – no activity.  I would think surely they collapsed.  And then a bee, one, lone forager would emerge, inevitably, and fly.  Nonetheless, these bees were on the verge of viability.

The brood pattern looks okay, not great, but of more concern is the patch of darkened larvae to the left.  Below is a close up.

The larvae are formed well but they are mottled – not brown, but dark grey and black.  The developing pupae in the capped cells all look fine – white and glossy.

Seen it before?  Know what it is?  Here is another clue.  I recently added three frames of brood and nurse bees to this hive to bolster the population and give them some more bodies to warm the hive.  Currently the population seems to be increasing, there is more activity at the hive entrance, and a lot more eggs being laid.  Also, we have had a long spell of cold, wet weather.

So, with

  • low population
  • cold weather
  • recently added brood from a different hive

this is chilled brood.  Not an emergency, it just means that the in the hive could not keep these larvae warm during development and they died.  The fact that the other brood is okay and the population is increasing is a good sign.  My bees will likely get around to cleaning out these cells when they can and when the population swells enough they will be able to take care of their brood properly.