Brood inspection with Mira

Cedar and Mira did a brood inspection and explored a lot of beekeeping topics, like queens that lay multiple eggs, foundationless beekeeping and urban beehives. We also saw some baby bees emerge from their cells and saw the queen laying eggs.    


Video Transcription

 

Opening hive

Cedar:

Good morning. And thank you for joining us today. We're going to be doing an inspection on this hive, a brood inspection, which means taking off this top box and having a look at the babies downstairs. Now it's a beautiful day, which is when you want to be doing brood inspections, if you can. You can't always order a beautiful day when it's time to do your brood inspections. But today it's absolutely perfect. We've got a sunny day, not much wind. The bees are happy and it's time to look in and see what's going on with this hive. The numbers are a bit low compared to other hives. So we want to get in there and check if there's any disease issues or what's going on in the brood box below. Okay. So I'm just going to blow a bit of smoke in the entrance. Now you really should have your bee veil on at this point, if you're standing in front of the beehive. So I'll put that on and just making sure that the middle zips are done up and that then the two side zips are done up, bring them around and then the velcro at the front. Okay. So next I'm going to take the roof right off the hive.

Adding a little smoke on the hands to mask my own pheromone because I'm a mammal coming into a hive, like a bear in a way. And I don't want to smell like one to the bees, is the theory. So a little bit of smoke on the hands might limit stings. Now I don't really need to pull the top off. I can just move straight to pulling the honey super off, which is this top box. So what I'm going to do is get around to each corner and just with this tool, just loosen it up. Now we haven't inspected this one for a little while, so it'll be interesting to see how easy it comes off. Looks like the excluder wants to come with the box, so we'll take the excluder with it. And what I'm going to do is just put it right in front of the hive.

Now. There's good handle at the back. If you take this, thanks. Mira my sister's here joining us for this brood inspection. She'll be doing some macro bee photography for you as well. And also take these windows off. That makes a good handle as well.

Mira:

So still a bit stuck.

Cedar:

Okay. Loosen up that corner for me. Now. Typically what can happen is the brood frames can come with it. See? At that point, you sometimes need to lever them back down.

The bees sometimes get a bit annoyed when the brood frames come up with it. But if you haven't inspected in a while like this one, then they can be a bit stuck together. So there's a bit of weight in this box. What I'm going to do is put it right in front, on its end so don't squash those bees. Wow. I can see a bee with beautiful orange pollen. Look at those beautiful orange pollen balls on the back of the legs there. It's just decided to have a little drink of some of the honey that's broken in this comb on top of the frames there. But straightaway it's interesting to look in and just look what's going on in your hive. Noticing a lot of bees licking up the honey that spilled, amazing how quickly they can lick up spills of honey. And I'm seeing quite a lot of honey in the centre, which is interesting. So I'm interested to know how much brood is in the centre of the hive. You might even find there's none at all. Let's just have a look and see. Another thing you can do is add a little bit of smoke at this point, to keep your smoker going, but also just to calm them down a little bit, if they need it. Okay. And a good idea to put your smoker back, just ticking away, where the bees are flying in to the hive. So now I'm going to look for a frame that's easy to get out for the first frame. So I'm going to pick this middle one right here. I'm going to go sideways first with my J hive tool between the end bars, just to loosen it up. That's it. So that should now come up easily enough just by hooking the J under the end. I can grab that with my hand, wear your gloves if you're new to beekeeping and just slowly, slowly coming up.

Mira:

Oh yeah, we have brood.

Cedar:

Okay, good. So we have brood. Now I'm just having a look at that brood pattern and just checking to see if it looks normal. Now I'm seeing a lot of young ones down the cells here, which is great in their larva stage. They spend about 11 days in their larva stage, the worker bees, and then about 11 days in their cocoon phase, like a caterpillar. They spin a silk cocoon around themselves and then come day 21 or so, they chew their way out. And if we look really closely, we might even see a bee chewing its way out of its cocoon.

 

Drones and queen

Mira:

There's quite a lot of drone on the other side, actually.

Cedar:

Okay. So my sister's just pointing out this drone brood.

Mira:

These are actual drones.

Cedar:

Okay. There's a drone, drones are good ones to grab because they don't have stingers. So they won't actually sting you.

Mira:

And so he's got real big eyes that meet in the middle. In fact, if I can get a macro of this drone.

Cedar:

So the difference between a drone and a worker is quite easy to tell in the end because the drones are a bigger sort of Teddy-bear-shaped compared to the other ones. And they've got eyes that are bigger and meet in the middle. There's another one just here running around. So you can see the difference between the drones. So drone, worker, here's another one drone, worker. People mistake them for queens when they're just getting started. But the queen looks quite different. She's like an enlarged worker bee with a nice pointy abdomen. Here's another drone.

 

So we've got our shelf brackets doubling as a frame rest here. So you can just rest that down there and it gives you a spot to put a couple of frames. I usually just keep it on the hive points and that way you can fit a few frames there like that. If you put that one over there, then you can put another one there and another one there. So let's pull out another frame and have a look what's going on. So far it's looking healthy. Just a bit low on numbers, perhaps they're responding to not much nectar at the moment. Okay. So here we have an older comb notice the way it's quite dark. So this has been used a lot for brood. So it's been through multiple seasons and the comb itself shows that because of how dark it's getting. So when you get the old darker ones, it's a good idea to cycle them towards the edge of the hive so that they can be cycled out when the brood has all emerged.

Mira:

I see the queen Cedar.

Cedar:

Here we go. Mira's spotted the queen. It's got a blue dot on it. If you can see a bee it's the queen here. It is just in front of my finger there. So notice how her abdomen is pointing way beyond where her wings are, unlike the worker bees, she's also got bigger legs. And where the blue dot is, is usually a shiny black thorax plate. And that's one way to spot her as well, because she lives a long time. She wears the hairs off, and that's why that back plate is shiny compared to the other bees. And her movements are different. The other bees are kind of jittery compared to the queen, which struts and strides a bit more. So often the way she moves will help you find her. In this case, somebody's put a nice blue dot, which makes it easy to find her.

Mira:

That means she's from last year, I think.

Cedar:

And it also means that it's colour coded for the year. So queen breeders will colour code their dots and change it each year.

 

Does the dot on that queen have to do with the age of the queen?

Cedar:

It's a dot that's been marked by a beekeeper, which helps you determine the age because blue, I believe was last year's colour or the year before, maybe. So that colour-coding helps you determine how old your queens are. If indeed you're buying them in from a queen breeder who's marking them. Or whether they've been replaced by another queen from the colony. So it gives you a bit of data to help you work out what's going on.

 

Emerging bees

Mira:

So here we have some emerging bees on this frame, just near the queen and see, she's chewing her way out.

Cedar:

Beautiful, soon will be a young bee, all fluffy.

Mira:

They look so cute and fluffy. They kind of look like they've got bed hair when they get up out of their cells. See if we can find a new one. Oh, there she comes.

Cedar:

Quick, film that. Wow, often they take a bit longer than that.

Mira:

She's a bit stuck. She's like, come on. And there she goes, see, she looks all fluffy and white.

Cedar:

So let's see what's the first few steps in the world going to be for this bee. It's smaller than the other bees. She hasn't done any eating for 11 days since she was a grub.

Mira:

Looks like she's just grooming and getting used to it. One of the first roles they do actually, is they clean the cells that they've hatched out of. And other cells getting them ready for new eggs.

Cedar:

Just like my progeny. One of the first things they do is clean the house all the time.

Mira:

You wish!

Cedar:

Bees are a little more organised than my household. They've got all of these roles and they move through them in their life. So as Mira was saying, they start off cleaning cells and then they'll move on to feeding the young larvae down the cells. So you see glistening white larva down the cells. At first, when they just hatch out of their egg, they'll be feeding them royal jelly, which they secrete from their bodies. And then what they'll do on day three is feed them plant proteins, so bee bread. So you can see here, there's all this beautiful bee bread they've made. They've got pollen, they've fermented it down the cells and they've done their beautiful sour thing and made bee bread. So it's a bit easier for them to digest if it's a proper sour. And they'll feed that to the young larva and that'll turn them into a worker bee. If they kept feeding them royal jelly, then they would become a queen. So that way they can choose whether to turn a bee into a queen or not. It's quite cool.

 

Queen laying

Mira:

Oh, the queen’s laying. Now she's looking at another cell. She sticks her head down the cell and her antenna senses the size of the cell. So her antenna tell her that it's the size of a worker or a drone cell. And so she either lays a fertilised egg or there she goes again, or an unfertilised egg. So the fertilised eggs are worker bees and the unfertilised eggs are drones. Wow. There she goes, she's laying. Oh, she's got an egg hanging out. It just dropped off.

Cedar:

She dropped the egg! She dropped the egg ladies and gentlemen! It's all happening here.

Mira:

She didn't quite get it in the right place. She's probably a bit camera shy.

Cedar:

She's not very camera shy. She's laying away, which is unusual.

Mira:

Oh yep. She got that one out.

Cedar:

Very cool.

 

Once the little baby bee has been born, how does it learn to start flying and then go out foraging?

Cedar:

Well, they do what's called an orientation flight first. So often it gets confused for swarming, where you've got this situation where perhaps the sun's come out for the first time in a little while and you get this big cloud of bees just buzzing aimlessly around the hive. And that'll be a whole lot of baby bees that have been waiting for a good chance to test their wings out for the first time. So they fly out for their first flight and they'll just circle around just kind of aimlessly like this in the air and come back again and they'll keep doing that. And what they're doing is starting to take in bearings of the landscape so that they know their way home. And that's their first bit of practice on their training wheels.

 

I have installed a new package of bees into my 8 frame Flow Hive 2+ about three weeks ago. I plan to put a medium super on so that the bees have got some honey before I add the Flow super. How do I know they're ready to add the honey super? Is it based on how many frames they have drawn or the volume of bees in the brood box?

Cedar:

So it's both, right. So you want to make sure the frames are all drawn out like this and that you're seeing lots of bees when you open the lid, those two things together mean it's time to add your honey super. Now you can do what you said and add a medium first. But what that'll mean is you'll be waiting a lot longer to get the Flow Frames filled up. So what I usually recommend is people start with their configuration like this, where you've just got the brood box and the honey super on top. Wait till they get a bit of traction on the Flow Frames before adding more boxes. Otherwise it'll just be a long time and you might get impatient with your Flow Frames.

 

What percentage of brood is usually drone brood?

Cedar:

So in a hive of up to 50,000 bees, you might get about 600 drones at any one time. That ebbs and flows, it changes with the seasons. In the springtime you get a lot more drones being made, the hive wants to spread its genetics around. So that's about the ratio. However, some hives will just have you know, thousands of drones for whatever reason. It's just genetics playing out and other hives might not have as many at all, but really mostly workers, handful of drones and one queen, sometimes two queens.

 

If the queen fell off the frame and didn't end up in the box, would she find her way back home?

Cedar:

Possibly not. So that's the reason why we're holding this frame above the brood nest as we're playing around here. We want to make sure the queen's in the hive, not outside the hive. You can get into a situation where she's dropped on the ground and doesn't work her way back. All the bee books say she can't fly when she's in egg-laying mode, but we definitely see them fly.

Mira:

I've had two separate queens fly whilst in full egg-laying mode. One flew off and never came back. She just ran up the frame onto the top and just took off. And I was like, excuse me. You've got a job to do. And she was like, I'm out. I'm out.

Cedar:

But nevertheless, it's a good idea to keep your queen in the box if you can and not drop her on the ground. She might get stood on or anything.

Cedar:

I think the queen has run off this frame.

Mira:

You think she dropped off?

Cedar:

I think as we had it down here, she's run off. So let's put this one down. We've got one frame out there and that's enough really to give you space to manipulate the hives. Or you can put more here if you want to, but try not to put the one with the queen on it outside like that.

 

Does the queen ever lay more than one egg in the cell?

Cedar:

Yes. That can happen. Typically when they're first getting started, they're a bit trigger-happy, and they might be laying multiple eggs per cell and that's not really the best thing. They usually eventually get it together, but sometimes you've got multi-layers, but multi-egg layer.

Mira:

Some people see a couple of eggs in a cell and assume, oh my God, it's laying workers and there isn't a queen. But like Cedar was saying, sometimes as new queens it takes a little while for them to get their groove and they might do a double or a triple egg in a cell. Whereas laying workers when there isn't a queen, the workers will start to lay, but they can only lay drones. I had a hive in the apiary just this week that had laying workers. And so it's multiple workers laying multiple eggs. And usually it's like five or eight eggs in a cell kind of all scattered around in there. So they're two different things and they often get confused. So it's good to learn to spot the difference essentially.

Cedar:

Typically when it's laying workers, they're laying them not down the bottom of the cell because they can't reach that far. They don't have a long pointy bum like the queen. So if you find them halfway down the walls and a couple per cell, it's probably laying workers because they're desperate to try and get something happening because there's no queen.

Mira:

Well, like every beekeeper, there's lots of disagreements and here's a photo of my colony from this week. Let me see if we can show it on the screen and you'll see that all the eggs are at the bottom of the cell Cedar.

Cedar:

But was that laying workers?

Mira:

That was laying workers.

Cedar:

Oh, that's an impressive photo.

Mira:

And twice I've seen this and the eggs aren't on the sides they're in the bottom. Maybe it's in the drone cells, they can't get to the bottom, but in the worker cells, they can.

Cedar:

mmm, there you go. So beekeeping's full of things that may or may not be true, in your situation. And we've started a bit of myth-busting. One with this hive behind me here, we did the banana skins, have a look at that. And we found that it didn't. So even though lots of beekeepers swear that putting bananas in hives get rid of chalkbrood, it actually made it worse in this particular case.

Mira:

They say for every two beekeepers you get three different opinions and it's definitely true. And I think one of the amazing things about being a beekeeper is that you're constantly learning from the bees.

 

When a queen lays multiple eggs, will those multiple eggs develop?

Cedar:

That's a good question. Have you seen what happens?

Mira:

Usually I would say what I've seen is that the workers will remove one of those eggs or one of those grubs. Usually when that's happening, if you look at the larvae developing, you don't see multiple larvae developing in a cell, you just see one. So I reckon the worker bees must get in there and sort that out.

Cedar:

So one egg gets turfed. It's not twins.

Mira:

No, I've never seen two grubs developing in one cell.

 

What would be a sign that the hive is not healthy or needs attention?

Cedar:

If we were seeing not much brood in here, or if we were seeing chalkbrood. What you're looking for is brood that's probably a bit patchy in fashion, a bit sunken and perhaps with piercing in the cappings and you're always on the lookout for that, because that's a really bad disease called AFB. And that one, you actually have to destroy your colony for in most countries. So that's something that you're always on the lookout for just in case it turns up, Hopefully it never does for you, but look up AFB and you'd be able to see what that looks like.

Mira:

And so when you're in your hive and you're doing an inspection, you would like to see all stages of brood. So you want eggs, you want young larva, then you want capped brood, and then worker bees filling the frames. It's good to see the kind of really fluffy ones, some that have emerged. So you've got a good balance of like nurse bees and foragers. If I see that my colony has brood in all stages, it means that there hasn't been some kind of issue going on.

Mira:

And while it's fun to spot your queen, it's not actually essential. If you can learn to see the eggs, which are quite hard to see at first, like a little tiny miniature grain of rice at the bottom of the cell, but once you can spot eggs, then you actually don't need to find the queen because you know that she's been there within three days.

 

Cedar:

Have a look at this. This is quite interesting. What you've got here is worker-sized cells around this region, which they are using for worker brood, which you can see here, but just over here, you've got drone size. Look how much bigger all of these cells are. So that's drone size cells just up just above six millimetres in size. Whereas these ones are 5.3 millimetres. And after a little while you can really tell the difference between the two sizings. So this frame, if it was put in the middle of the brood nest would tend to encourage a lot more drones in this case, they're using it mainly for honey storage. They like to do bigger cells for honey storage when they're away from the brood nest. And that's why the Flow Frames are a bit of a bigger cell size too.

 

Are there rules and regulations in regards to how often you should inspect or what would you recommend to people opening up their hives?

Cedar:

So the rules and regulations in Australia say that your hive does have to be serviceable. You can't just keep bees in the garbage bin or milk bottle. The frames have to be serviceable for you to inspect for pests and diseases. And typically you need to go through your brood nest like this a couple of times a year, just checking for issues such as AFB and make sure that's not present. And the rest of the time, it's more just an as-needed operation. Other continents have the varroa mite, which has all sorts of management practices that vary depending on what strategies you're using. And it might mean a lot more intervention during the spring season. But I don't know much about the varroa mite because luckily we don't have it here in Australia. Mira has done some beekeeping with varroa mites in Berlin.

Mira:

I did about three seasons in Berlin. So I had varroa mite and winter to deal with. And I'm very glad that I'm back keeping bees without varroa. There's a lot that you have to do to manage the number of mites in the colony. There's various methods of treating. But yeah, it definitely adds a bit of challenge that I'm glad not to have back in Australia.

 

Replacing frames and natural comb

Cedar:

So these are all naturally-drawn combs. We're just letting the bees go free form, but we're giving them a frame and a bit of a guide to hopefully go in straight lines so that we can inspect them. But look at this comb, it's quite interesting. What's going on? They've got holes running through it. Something that you don't see if you're using a plastic foundation sheet.

Trace:

Does that mean that there's a problem, having that hole in that brood frame?

Mira:

It just means the bees have gone, "okay, here's the road we want to take". And they've just done it. I don't see any issue with it. They just do what they need.

Trace:

They put in a roundabout.

Cedar:

So what I'm going to do is shuffle these frames around a little bit, because this one that I was holding up previously was getting a little dark and old. And I think what we'll do is put that near the edge. There's little bit of brood on that to emerge. And then we'll chop that comb out and that'll give them a fresh start and it's always good to have a fresh start. Nice thing to do in the springtime to give the queen new pasture to lay on. And then that hive will be less likely to swarm.

Mira:

And important to cycle out that old dark comb.

Cedar:

It's important when you are shuffling frames around to make sure that there's not a bulging bit of comb touching another bulge bit of comb from the other frame. If there is, that's where hive beetles might decide to lay their eggs, because the bees won't be able to service that until they chew that area away. So I'm just keeping a look out for that as I'm shuffling frames here.

Mira:

And typically when you inspect a colony, unless you're doing this to swap those frames over, you wouldn't reorganise the brood nest. You pull it out and you put it back in the same way. Because the bees have sort of carefully managed that, especially with the honey frame that Cedar swapped out to the edge just has like a tiny bit of capped brood. So that was fine put out there, but usually you try and keep the brood nest together as well.

 

I have had a package installed for 10 days and I'm seeing lots of nectar pollen eggs and a few larvae. Is this pretty good progress for a 10-day old package?

Cedar:

Absolutely. So 10 days isn't much in the scheme of a beehive. So fantastic, you're getting there and seeing what's going on.

Mira:

Sounds great.

 

If you supply a sugar mixture from day one, how do you know when to stop feeding it?

Mira:

So with a package, yes. Usually people will feed them so they build up. But my experience with feeding in terms of winter stores. So before the winter, if your colony is a little bit light, often people will feed sugar. Usually you will feed until the bees stop taking it. Or the temperature drops below a certain point. Because once it's below a certain temperature, the bees won't be able to process the liquid sugar water into honey stores. They're also two different sugar syrups. One is to simulate nectar, so when your package is growing, you'd be simulating nectar. So it's a weaker sugar syrup, it's a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water. And when you're wanting them to store that sugar syrup as honey, it's stronger, it's 2 parts sugar to one part water.

 

We did an inspection on Saturday, the weather was good. As soon as we lifted off the lid of the super, the bees started going crazy. We got stung a few times. Any idea why this hive would become so cranky?

Cedar:

Genetics is the main thing when it comes to cranky bees. So if you get genetics where the queen has mated with some rascal drones from down the road, then those genetic traits will come in and they might be much more protective. Beekeepers breed out those traits of aggression because it's much nicer for us to be around the bees when they're less protective. But if you're finding that it's hard to manage a colony because they're too aggressive, then what you might want to introduce a new queen to that colony.

Mira:

I find that bees can also just be having a bad day. And so I tend to give a colony, you know, a couple of goes and if they're consistently aggressive, you know, two or three times in a row, then I think it's the genetics. If it's just once a one-off, sometimes it can just be that they're having a bad day or you are wearing a perfume that they don't like, or something's going on in the colony that's causing them to be extra aggressive.

 

And can the queen change? If you've had a pretty good queen and then all of a sudden she goes cranky?

Mira:

Well, it depends. So the queen mates with, you know, 20 up to 30 drones and so there could be a period of time where that particular mixture, that semen from that particular drone that was a little bit aggressive could come out and then leave. Or the possibility is that they could have requeened themselves, that the queen could have died and they could have re-queened.

Cedar:

Yeah, most likely they've changed the queen and the new queen has mated with some rogue, aggressive drones.

Mira:

See the different genetics here. We've got a very light-coloured bee. This one, it's got very light stripes compared to some of these other ones that have really dark stripes. And so that's just the different fathers' genetics coming through in the bees. She's quite light and then this one's quite dark.

 

What sort of backyard do you need to have to keep bees?

Cedar:

So the great thing about bees is they take up a small footprint. So my sister Mira actually had them on her balcony in Berlin. So she's a couple of stories up and she's just keeping a few beehives. How many did you have?

Mira:

I had three at one point, but then I dropped back to two. It was just a balcony about a metre wide and two metres long. So that, and about 30 sunflowers and a bunch of pots with flowers for the bees. It was a lot of fun.

Cedar:

So you can keep them in a very small area, which is exciting because you can get real amounts of produce from a very small space, even if you don't have a farm. So for that reason, people do it on their balconies and their roofs and all of that. And it's really a growing thing in urban environments to keep bees and you get beautiful honeys that come in because people plant all sorts of things all around the city and often a really long honey season because of all the things that people are planting.

Mira:

Yeah. There's a great diversity that can happen with urban hives that you get so many people's gardens. People think, oh, city hives wouldn't do that well, but actually city beehives do incredibly well, surprisingly.

Cedar:

You can also keep them in your backyard in suburbia. A lot of people do that.


I'm really dedicated to the foundationless frames, but cross-combing is an ongoing issue. Any tips?

Cedar:

So definitely my preferred method is foundationless because I just don't like going through that wax and wiring process, but it does mean you get cross-comb, as you say. Sometimes some hives are more cross-comby than others. The tips are once you get a straight comb, move that aside and put one of the ones that haven't drawn out yet in between. So you use the straight frames as guides to draw the next one and then they usually get the idea and follow suit. But if you are having to deal with cross-comb on the edge where, let's say these two frames, they've started here and they're gone right across onto this frame and then back again, then what I'd tend to do if it was on the edge would be, just get them out, get all the bees off and cut the comb out and let them start again. If your frame's in the middle are cross-combed and they got brood in them, then pick up those two frames together and move them to the edge, wait until the brood's emerged. And then the same thing, you can then cut that comb out and give them another go. Hopefully next time it'll be straight.

Mira:

Once I started using foundationless, I've never gone back. The key is that when you're starting a colony, whether it's a package or a swarm, it's really important to really make sure the colony is level, especially from side to side. But also to go in, check them because you can very easily correct it when it's that fresh new comb and there's just a little bit of cross-comb going on. So you kind of have to pay a little bit more attention when they're just sort of building up.

Cedar:

Yeah. It's a little bit more work in the hive, which I find a lot more fun. And less work in the shed waxing and wiring frames, which I find tedious. But each to their own, if you like wax and wiring and you find that enjoyable, then by all means you can do that, which means you'll have to inspect less in the early stages.

Mira:

And it's great for when you want to cycle out comb. So you want to pull out the edge combs full of honey and capped. You pull it out, you cut it onto a tray or into a storage container. And then you can just put that frame straight back in.

Cedar:

And keeping in mind, the wax and wire was invented for the centrifuging. So you need that reinforcement in the wax if you're going to spin it at a high speed in a centrifuge. Some people do spin naturally drawn combs as well, but you get more blowouts of combe just flinging against the walls of your extractor. But because we don't need to use an extractor with the Flow Frames, then we also don't need that wire reinforcing in the frame so we can choose to do it in a different way.

 

Closing the hive

Cedar:

Let's put these frames back in. Are they too close here? What we're doing is having a look. There's a bit of a bulge in the comb that might be not enough space for the bees to work. Sometimes leaving the comb on top. I scraped it all off, but it tells you a bit of a story about how they go back together. When you can see the adjoining comb that they've been putting on top here, but in this case we have we've scraped it off. So it's harder to tell which bit goes with what. But as long as the combs aren't touching each other, that's the main thing.

Mira:

So I have a method when I beekeep to avoid confusion of what frame is what, is that I always start with this frame, unless there's a reason not to. I always start with one frame in because this one's often braced to the wall. And then I know where I've started and where I go back to. It's just one of those quirks that I do, which I find really useful so that I know where I am, but Cedar's not as organised as that.

 

Would you ever number the brood frames? Or would that be too confusing when you start mixing them?

Mira:

No. I did do beekeeping in Germany with someone who had a thumbtack system where he would red, white or yellow thumbtack the different frames, depending on whether they had brood honey or eggs. But I found that a little too labour-intensive.

Cedar:

I notice the bees have just gotten a little bit cranky about the setup. They've put up with this show and tell for this long, but the tone has changed. It's a higher pitch. So what I'm going to do before I put this back on is I'm going to add a bit of smoke and that'll do two things. That'll calm them down, but it'll also get them off the edges so we squash less bees putting it back together.

Cedar:

Now we're just lining it up as best we can. There we go. Hi, back together. Sorry for this disturbance here this morning bees. Nice to look at your world for a little bit and see what's going on.

 

What is that macro lens you are using?

Mira:

So this is a macro lens from Moment. They do a macro prime lens and I've just got it on my iPhone. And I use a combination of that plus iPhone 13 that has a macro lens built-in. But I really love this little macro lens that does a great job of getting those super close up images. And that's my big obsession is chasing bees around with a macro lens and an iPhone. That's my happy place.

 

I'm moving three hives a few streets away. Any tips on that?

Cedar:

So moving hives is interesting because bees will geolocate to the spot. They've got this incredible way of detecting landmarks and I believe a lot more incredible than the books say. They can even tell accurate information back to the hive about exactly which window to go in the house to find my honey. So what you are dealing with then when you move your hives, is that memory of where the bees know their home is. So if you are moving a short distance, then if you just pick up the hives and move them, then a lot of the bees will go back to the old spot and ball up there on a bush or whatever. So what you need to do is actually use a tactic of moving them further away till those bees have cycled through, because the work bees only last four to six weeks and then move them to the new location. Or else use what's called a distraction technique where we actually put something in front of the entrance. And what that does is it makes the bees who are coming out foraging really it cause them to reorientate because all of a sudden there's something different in front. So you can put a t-shirt or something taped around the hive or pick a whole lot of foliage and put it in front of the hive that wasn't there before. And your bees would come flying out and bang into it and go, "what's different?" And then instead of having 50% of the bees go back to the old spot, you get 5% of the bees returning back to the old spot. It's a really useful technique if you do want to move your bees a short distance, less than less than that sort of four-mile, six-kilometre kind of range. So that's the one we mainly use if we're moving a short distance, but you will get some bees still returning to the old spot, which you can collect in a box and then ferry them over.

 

Nasonov fanning

Mira:

So just come and have a look at the entrance, because they're doing something that's interesting. They're fanning their wings and they're tipping the tail of their abdomen down and they're revealing this what's called the nasonov gland. And so it's a pheromone that they're fanning into the air because we disturbed them with the brood inspection. They're telling all the other bees come on, this is home, come home. Sometimes they'll fan at the entrance to reduce the honey content to heat or cool the hive, but then they have their butts up. They don't have the tip kind of tilted down and you can actually see a very small little gland that gets exposed. So that's pretty cool.

Trace:

Like, like they're twerking.

Mira:

Yeah, twerking bees!

Cedar:

Thank you very much for all your great questions and tuning in, let us know what you'd like us to cover next time. And we're always interested to cover new topics. So if you've got something you want us to cover, then let us know.



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