Last weekend I did my first real hive inspection. This involves actually taking frames out of the hive to see what the girls have been up to. When you go in and essentially pull apart their home, the bees can get upset, so you want to go in with a clear plan and idea of what you are looking for in order to minimize disruption to the bees. The main thing I was looking for was evidence that the queen was doing her job - laying eggs. And not only did I see the evidence, but I had a fairly easy time finding the queen herself and I got to watch her for a bit. Very cool!
Besides seeing the queen, there was a lot to look at. The bees had drawn 5 frames of beautiful honey-comb. And in that comb, they had put honey, pollen and brood. I only have a few fuzzy pictures because I was trying to hold the frame and take a picture at the same time - not that easy - but you can still see the bees and some of the comb.
There was brood in all different stages of development and you can tell this just by looking. A brief recap of insect life-cycles - first the egg is laid (bee eggs are tiny and though you can see them if you look close enough, I didn't take the time to do this), then the larval stage - with bees, the larvae are "uncapped" - that means they are in one of the cells of the comb and the cell is open - you can see the little larvae hanging out in the cell. This allows the nurse bees to feed and care for the larvae. The cells are sealed (or "capped") for the next stage, the pupal stage. Then the bee makes a cocoon and finally emerges as an adult. For worker bees, this all happens in 21 days, for drones, 24 days.
So now I am waiting for the second colony of bees to come. They should be coming next week. It looks like the plan to put them in the community garden is a go. Hopefully I can find someone to help me document the second installation with pics and video.