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New Bee
Feb 6, 2009
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I am attempting to use this as a method of changing from nationals to commercials and also to "keep it clean". Does any one have any advise as to whether it is too early as my bees haven't touched the new foundation in nearly 2 weeks despite having a miller feeder above with thickish syrup.
It is way too early for foundation.

I will rephrase that, it is way too early in this neck of the woods.

Also the bees really probably don't want the extra space right now and it will be severely holding them back.

It is cold here, 9 degrees at 16-29 and with the breeze it feels about 4.

I suggest you have a look at what temperatures bees need to draw wax, and then take your box of foundation off as the bees will do things to it you may not like.

I think it is too cold here in London too... I am hoping to getmine to draw new foundation at end of April.
I think then that I was being too hopeful with the recent good weather. Oh well at least I will be prepared when the right time comes!

Thanks for your replies.
Have added to one large colony (didn't realise it was too early ) and they have just begun to draw this week - the weather has JUST become spring like at last.
And I have seen more butterflies today than all of last year- 5 different types too -:)
Yes Heather but look where you are? by balmy Brighton which is not typical for most on here.

Did your temps dive today like mine?

No, still sunny and warm from 9:30- 4:30 - but early days- and it is due to change Friday, though Metcheck differs.....
Yes, rain warmer down here:).
Look on the bright side for oop North, PH- lots of holidaymakers staying in UK this year ??????
I was always advised that a contact feeder immediately above the new brood box with a thin syrup was best. Why necessitate the bees going out for water to thin the syrup down prior to making wax. Wax making usually occurs in the second two weeks of the bees life span so it is unlikely that you will have a sufficiency of bees to make any quantity of wax yet. Ie they would have to have been from eggs laid 5 weeks ago
Are you saying that only new bees make wax then?
Life Cycle of the Honeybee Apis mellifera

Written by Brian P. Dennis as lecture notes for beginners.

A colony of honeybees at the height of the summer contains <50,000 bees. There is one queen (female) capable of laying <2,000 eggs per day, several hundred drones (males), and workers (sterile females).

Both the workers and the queen develop from fertilised eggs (egg + sperm) and have 32 chromosomes. The queen is reared in a queen cell and receives a richer and more plentiful diet (royal jelly or brood food). The workers are all potential queens - it is the feeding that makes the difference (workers have rudimentary ovaries and may become laying workers producing drones).

The drones develop from unfertilised eggs and have 16 chromosomes. A drone has a mother but does not have a father - but he does have a grandmother & a grandfather!
Stages in Life Cycle
Worker Queen Drone
Open Cell:
Egg 3 days 3 days 3 days
Larva (4 moults) 5 days 5 days 7 days
Sealed Cell:
Larva/Pro-pupa (1 moult) 3 days 2 days 4 days
Pupa (1 moult) 10 days 6 days 10 days
From egg to emergence:
21 days 16 days 24 days
After emergence:
Summer bee 6 weeks c. 3 years c. 4 months*
Winter bee c. 6 months ditto --------------*

*Drones that mate die - drones are killed by the workers in the autumn.

Day 1. Queen measures size of cell to determine whether it is a drone or a worker cell. Egg vertical, parallel to cell walls.

Day 2. Egg at 45 deg.

Day 3. Egg horizontal, laying on the bottom of the cell - hatches.

Day 4 - 8. Larva fed by workers, grows, moults every 24 hours, eventually fills cell - cell sealed.

Day 8 - 21. Excretes. Stretches head outwards and spins a cocoon - pupa develops after 5th moult (3 days after sealing) - colour slowly changes from white. 6th moult occurs just before emergence.
Functions of the worker

Day 1 - 3. Cell cleaning & brood incubation.

Day 4 - 6. Feeding older larvae (honey + pollen).

Day 7 - 12. Feeding young larvae (brood food).

Day 13 - 18. Processing nectar into honey (water evaporation), wax making, pollen packing.

Day 19 - 21. Guarding and orientation flights.

Day 21 - 6th week. Foraging for nectar, pollen, water & propolis.

Bees often do nothing! Duties depend on the maturity of the brood glands, wax glands (day 12) & sting gland (day 18) - bees can revert to earlier duties if required. Other duties included ventilation, humidity and temperature control.

Day 13 - 18. Processing nectar into honey (water evaporation), wax making, pollen packing.


I think I read once that older bees can also return to wax making if 2 week old bees are in short supply,can anyone confirm this ?
If we look a swarm with virging queen and mating is late, it would take 5 weeks before the new bees start to emerge. Then it takes 2 weeks that new bees make wax. We see that bees over 7 weeks handle wax works.

7 x 7 = about 50 days

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