July 23, 2008

Busy in the Nursery

This tiny comb has been around since the 4th of July. After emailing back and forth with Karen at BackyardHive, we've decided that there's nothing to worry about.

It's been awfully hot and dry here, drier than usual*, but even if there were tons of nectar and pollen, the girls were probably too busy in the nursery to build new comb. A larva is fed for six or more days, many many times each day. Then the bees have to cap the pupa's cell with a mixture of wax and propolis so metamorphasis can take place. When the adult bee emerges (12 days later if it's a worker, 15 days later if it's a drone), the nurse bees have to feed them until they learn to feed themselves. After a couple of days, the young females will take over as nurse bees and the older females will graduate to guarding the entrance.

The large comb on the right is a honey comb. You can tell because the cappings are bright white – no propolis was mixed with the wax. The brood nest is in a section of the hive I can't see through the window. I'd have to pull a brood comb out to show you how it differs, but I don't want to disturb the bees. Unless there's a really compelling reason to stress the bees out, the nursery should be left alone.

*We've gotten less than 4 inches of rain so far this year. Normal is 10 inches by now. Annually we average 15. Note: average never happens, and abnormal is normal.

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