Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
My most recent inspection of my backyard top bar hive revealed a couple of things that I'm wondering about. I attended the last mentoring session with Lulu and Mark and learned A LOT, which led to even more questions. I love that about life. Anyway...
1- There are capped drone cells as well as empty drone cells. I think Lulu said there shouldn't be any new drones this time of year. My hive is super strong- tons of bees, lots of pollen and nectar, lots of capped honey, plenty o' brood. Why are there new drones? What should I anticipate? Also, should I take any action? I heard that if you move those bars to the back of the hive, the workers will fill them with honey.
2- We found three wax moth larva crawling at the top of three different bars. I've heard that it's normal and ok for wax moths to be present. A healthy hive will take care of them. Should I be worried? Should I take action other than smashing them?
Emily in SE ABQ
Thank you, Mark! That was a great read about wax moths.
We will open the hive again next week and check on the moth situation. I'll try to move the combs with drones to the back of the brood nest.
That thing about there not being any drones in hives at this time of year was said at a recent ABQBeeks meeting too, and it is not correct.
Drones are present throughout the year. You might see them being kicked out over the summer if it's between nectar flows and resources are getting scarce. You'll see them getting kicked out going into winter for sure.
But they are laid throughout the spring and summer, and that is a sign of a strong hive and good resources!
You need to worry about a laying worker if you ONLY have drone cells. (And bumpy, uneven wax since there are fewer and fewer workers, and so the remaining ones must make do with the comb already present)
I'm not sure why a hive wastes resources making drones right now (why do bees do any of the things they do!), but I'm a Lang beekeeper so I control that by putting in only worker-size foundation. With a TBH you aren't telling them what to do but allowing them to do what they want. I was just in a TBH this week and several combs were 50/50 worker brood/drone brood. We were flummoxed! Silly bees!!
Thomas Seeley actually experimented with this over a summer season, and hives with strong resources over the summer spent energy making drone cells whereas the hives without the resources didn't.
His experiment took place during June and July but the period covered is May to late August. The hives either made drones, or they stored honey (at like a 2:1 ratio!); the bees decided whether reproduction or energy storage was their priority, and Dr Seeley says how or why they decided that is an area for future study!