Seeing the queen in my hive is one thing, but seeing her work tells a totally different story. It’s much like looking at an artist. Andy Warhol was not an attractive man. He looked different (bizarre might be a better term), but I never would have pegged him out of a crowd as being someone that could create something truly beautiful. You might find the same concept true when looking at your queen bee for the first time. She is different – longer abdomen, shinier thorax, and slightly larger. But, she doesn’t shine like a 12 carat diamond ring. However, her work can be truly beautiful, and that is how you can tell that she is something worth admiring. Eggs, larvae, and pupae are the three main things I look for on my hive frames that tell me my queen is an artist. Looking for these three things – the patterns and the quantity, tell me far more than just looking at her.
It is ideal to see a variety of brood (a term used for baby bees that haven’t emerged yet) – eggs, larvae, and pupae. Seeing solid patterns, with few empty cells in the middle, tells me that my queen is doing an amazing job.
Look closely in this picture above and you will see tiny white little eggs shaped like itty-bitty grains of rice in the middle of the cells. They are truly tiny. Wear your glasses if you have subpar vision! Black foundation allow the white eggs to be more visible. Seeing these eggs is a great sign! Eggs take three days to hatch. Seeing eggs tells me that my queen has been in my hive within the last three days. Therefore, the queen is most likely in my hive and producing even if I don’t physically see her.
Look closely above and you will see little crescent moon shaped larvae. The ones on the left are smaller because they are younger than the larger ones on the right. Eggs hatch after three days and become larvae.
This picture above shows some capped over pupae on the far right with younger larvae on the left. A solid pattern of capped over pupae tell me my queen is doing a good job by utilizing all the cells in her hive. Missing cells, leaving too many empty spaces, tells me my queen is not a strong artist and needs to be replaced with someone that can do the job.
Looking for these three things – eggs, larvae, and pupae – are the #1 indicators of a true artist. Don’t accept anything less!
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!