First inspection of the year, First Time Overwintering.

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New Bee
Mar 22, 2009
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Leicester, uk
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Hi All

Hope this doesn't bore you all but just wanted to tell you what I saw and to see if you think this sounds ok and answer the few questions I have.

Just done my first inspection of the year, reasonably warm day in Leicester 12deg, took a look at the bees this morning and they were out and about, so at lunchtime did my first inspection and gave them a bit of a spring clean.

Out of the 3 hives I have, Hive 1 had Eggs Larvae and Grubs of various sizes, didn't see the queen (really annoys me haven't seen her since about last august, I think the harder I look the harder she is to spot) and they were most of the way through the fondant I put on about a week ago, plenty of bees and still a few pounds of stores left. I had put a super under each hive over the winter I took this off, some of the frames had moldy honey in I guess it'd fermented and not ripened. The frames in the BB were fine and no mold there.

Hive 2 is a small colony that was a collected swarm last June, I couldn't see any eggs or the Queen, but there were still 5-6 frames of bees in there, they to had got through the fondant and were a lot lighter on stores.

Hive 3 has still got capped stores from before winter a lot of Bees were about and Eggs but didn't spot any grubs or larvae, or the Queen.

The other things I spotted between the hives.

I when I cleaned the OMF on hive 2 there were still dead bees on it and they had a white spiders web like fungi growing on them, is this normal?

Will the discovery of a few super frames with 5-10% moldy honey on be anything to be concerned about?

When should I start feeding Syrup instead of Fondant?

My plan is to give then all some more fondant tomorrow and then have another look in a week or so (depending on the weather) and try to find the queens in them all and mark them.

Is there anything else I should be doing at this time of year that I have over looked?

Thanks for tsking the time to read through, if you got this far!


I am no expert-but have a little experience=
Hive 1 great - give a 1:1 syrup feed as they will enjoy the water content too.
Hive 2 - wait a little while. She may be there but slower on the uptake. Again I would give syrup feed now
Hive 3 - eggs- she is there, dont worry, close up and give syrup feed too

There will be dead bees on the OMF- when the weather warmer you can take the brood box off - sweep off bees and replace. Just helps them spring clean

White spider fungus- just make sure no wax moth in there. They will look like dried cocoons stuck on the side of the box or frames. Otherwise think ok.

Others will pile in with different, prob - but 3 beekeepers 4 answers:cheers2:

Mine are piling in the pollen today- so good to see:)
I very much doubt you have mouldy honey. Mouldy pollen perhaps?

Hi Heather

Thanks for the answers, shall I not bother with the fondant and just feed syrup?

I did sweep off the OMF's and found on one of them some small caterpillar grubs in silk and thought they might be wax moth grubs so killed them.

They have been bringing in pollen the last few warmer days I had a look at them, last week it was bright yellow, I guessed from Daffs and today noticed it was bright orange, there is a garden center about 500m as the crow flies and they were all flying off in that direction when I stood back and looked so guess they'll be having a great time there.


The white cobwebs sound like wax moths to me.

Others will disagree I am sure- but I will not be doing an inspection until it is at least 15 degrees- its good to know whats going on on the one hand- but I am reminded by the old beekeeper that taught me, that If the brood gets chilled, they will lose out big time, and there is little to be lost by waiting a few more weeks, but much to gain.

I very much doubt you have mouldy honey. Mouldy pollen perhaps?


Yes, I think you are right, they brought in some very Black pollen last year and this was in some of the frames, it didn;t come out when I extracted the honey last year.

Should I get rid of the wax and replace it?


New wax last year?- should be ok for another year, unless any very poor.

Doubt the pollen is daffs as I dont think bees use daffs - snowdrop, crocus and maybe pussy willow.

Daffs out? Wow -we are 2 weeks away from any daffs in bloom and that's the sunny south for you!

I have opened and inspected- on a sunny day - NO cold wind - a quick look to see eggs then I put back immediately. Don't need to look through all- just to get a picture of queenright or not.

If you have any worry of wax moth - stick the frame in a freezer for 2 days- it kills all eggs.

Feed- difficult to assess as I dont know how advanced they are- but I suggest if they are foraging then 1:1 syrup should be fine now.
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Heather, I know you checked for queenright, but what are you going to do if its not? seems of little value dragging frames out at this stage?
Yep, agree with Veg; you can unite, hopefully before laying workers take over laying duties.

I am with cstroud re inspecting; lids have come off my colonies but no frames removed yet. Minimal disturbance until very warm. That was OK in mid Feb last year (removing broodless frames for short periods) but not anything like that this year, so far. Brood nests need warmth and minimum disturbance until well developed and one can only replace a queen with an already mated one, at this time of the year, anyway, so why risk damaging her or even losing her by 'balling'.

Commercial keepers will need to push on, but hobby keepers, with few colonies, are better being just a little prudent when it comes to full inspections at this stage of the season.

So reference to Poly Hive's thread 'Tempering excitement, aka Beefeever... ' might be a suggestion from me, as I am fully with him regarding full inspections.

Comparing situations this and last year, I would say we are almost that month behind, this year. Colonies have had to come through a much longer winter and will be a brood cycle later than last year. Chill those potential new nurse bees and it will soon be two brood cycles behind. That might mean foragers are not there in sufficient numbers for the first strong flow (OSR).

Regards, RAB
I think Rab, cstroud and Poly are right, even i have not yet been into the hives, there are still frosts about, even down here in tropical Hampshire, last year i had already inspected, but then it was 15 deg as early as February.

So any newbies reading, please take note of what the guys above say, were almost there, it wont be long.
I think Rab, cstroud and Poly are right, even i have not yet been into the hives, there are still frosts about, even down here in tropical Hampshire, last year i had already inspected, but then it was 15 deg as early as February.

So any newbies reading, please take note of what the guys above say, were almost there, it wont be long.

If queenless you can unite.

not sure why heather is saying cheers, a queenless 'small colony' of just old bees is doomed and at that point is likely to be ailing, if that was the case its also likely to do more damage be uniting - also why disrupt another queen right colony in mid-march?
Well they seem to be strong enough not to be diseased, no fouling - out foraging a little- but I feel there is no queen there. Will wait a little then if they are slowly lessening in numbers they can be united to another queenright colony that is rather small.
So long as the temps are in the double figures and the weather is favourable, it might be a good time to look and see what stores they have. This is a time when colonies can die out through lack of stores and also if there is too much stores it can lead to early swarming. There is no need to pull the frames out of the hive, just remove the dummy and first 1 or 2. As soon as you get to the first frame of brood stop. Then make a decision as to feed or remove some of the stores and replace with drawn comb or foundation thus providing some laying space.
Loads- but I have about a thousand crocus in my garden - plus the snowdrops so some laden.. bright yellow.

But have had a rethink overnight and I will take advice from my betters and leave this colony to fade away (if queenless as I think). It has 2 chances- but the bees in there are strong- just limited numbers...
I wont risk damaging another colony. I go near one hive and already the lovely smell of honey pervades the air.

Interesting replies from all of you, lots to consider, that being a newbie I didn't know.

I was very conscious of the weather and made sure it was warm, sun out, no breeze to light breeze and the bees were out in huge numbers. So hopefully picked the right window to have a look through, but I guess time will tell if I've cocked it up. (hopefully not)

The wax I was on about getting rid of, was the ones with the moldy pollen in, which was on about 3 frames at maybe 10%.

Today am going to do a 1-1 syrup mix and put in the feeders.



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