Things did not look good this morning when I took a look at the bottom board of my hive. The first thing I noticed was an accumulation of debris sprinkling the floor and about ten dead bees (at least they weren’t moving and looked to be dead at the time). I took a long stick and slid it inside to rake them out into a plastic cup. All but one were drones. I was also surprised by the lack of attention I got from any guard bees. No one came out to take a look.
My morning schedule didn’t allow me to linger, so I decided to open the hive when I returned in the afternoon and about 1:00 p.m., I got my smoker going. The sun was warm overhead and as I put on my beesuit, I thought perhaps I might try going without. It is hot and the hat is cumbersome. I left it on though and gave a puff of smoke into the entrance before opening the hive top. Since the bees seemed really calm, I set the smoker down and removed the inner cover next. I could see activity towards the top part of the frames and gently removed one of the outer frames, so I could slide over the others and take a look for brood comb near the center.
Here is what I saw:
Since I’m a “new-bee” beekeeper, my first thoughts are that I saw more drones than I wanted to see. The drones coming out are really fat, so fat that they can’t fly. I am finding them on the ground where the ants are taking them away as fast as they can catch them.
My queen isn’t marked, but I think I saw her when I was inspecting the hive. There were capped cells, uncapped cells with larvae inside, and cells with new bees exiting. The ones I saw coming out were drones. I suspect that my next step will be to requeen, but may take a second look tomorrow and examine things a little more closely. Intuition tells me something is off though!