Today, I decided to check in on the honey super I added to my hive two weeks ago, to see how the progress was going with the comb-building on my medium plastic cell frames. Just taking a quick peek through the hole in the inner cover it appeared the tops of the center frames had been built out and made me want to do a deeper inspection. So, we got suited up and began poking around the honey super.
Everything seemed to be really stuck together but there wasn’t much comb built on the outside frames after prying one up and peeking down. The bees even immediately linked limbs together connecting the space between where I pulled out one frame, which was really cool to watch a “bee ladder” get built so quickly out of several bees linking front legs to back legs like acrobats in mid-air. Trying to scoot 2-3 frames over in the space I made seemed impossibly stuck, so I started at doing one frame at a time which wasn’t working well either. Then, I don’t know how we ended up doing this but we just pulled the center frame up without taking any precautions.
Now, I know better than this, this is exactly what not to do. You never want to force frames to move, it can cause severe damage, but that’s what we did …and that’s what ended up happening. Pulling up that center frame all looked ok on the one side, but then we realized with horror that on the other side we had disturbed a bunch of larvae – completely tore it apart! You could see lots of larvae that had been standing straight up in their cells and lots that were still curled – all were a bright and pretty white, and fat and healthy-looking. The frame was dripping with bee food which leaked from the larvae cells. It looked like mostly drone larvae, but still, I couldn’t help but feel extremely disappointed to have been so careless. And what if the queen had been near that area and we had crushed her??? Arrrgh! But, you’ve got to learn from your mistakes….
In observation, it was interesting that the drone comb had been built in a single strip up in-between two frames, from the bottom to the center, and the surrounding area of foundation was completely vacant of comb. Also interestingly, worker bees had instantly fled to the broken larvae cells and began attending to them.
We carefully replaced the frames back into their places, the problem-frame was a bit tough to place back down as it had pulled and broken more comb between my boxes. Before closing up shop, just briefly tipped my second hive body up to inspect for swarm cells again. With how many workers were on the frames of the honey super, and how exploding-with-bees my hive seems, I’ve been on swarm alert. Still no swarm cells present between my two hive bodies. Another all-clear…for now.