It looks like our girls have been a bit busy, in fact, they've been very busy bees!! We (Pat, Colin, Lee and I) undertook our weekly inspection of the hives yesterday, checking the colonies general health and to see whether the queens are present and whether they have started laying, on opening hive 2 it was to find that some of the smaller super frames (usually used in the super boxes at the top of the hive above the queen excluder, where the bees store the honey) that we had used to fill the brood boxes (the larger bottom section of the hive where the queen lives and lays eggs) had been 'extended' by the workers to increase their size towards that of a normal brood frame!!
On removing the first frame it was to find that the queen in hive 2 (the one that we shook into that hive only 2 weeks ago) has started laying! As you can see from the photo, the eggs are individually laid in the comb cells, the eggs usually hatch after about 3 days and larvae are then fed by the workers for between 5 (worker bees) and 7 (drones) days, before being capped (9 days worker, 10 days drones) when the bees pupate and are 'capped' or sealed into their comb to complete the transformation to adult bees (13 days for a worker, 14 for a drone) to emerge at 21 days (worker) to 24 days (drone) from the laying of the egg to emergence!
Once the larvae are capped it is then possible to determine whether the 'brood' is worker or drone from the shape of the capping, flat capping indicates worker bees whereas a domed cap denotes drones. Only once you have both present can you be certain that the queen has been properly mated and is fertile! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brood_(honey_bee)
As this photo shows, we also found live larvae in Hive 2, at several stages of development, hopefully when we next do an inspection at the weekend we'll be able to see capped brood of both worker and drone, at which time we'll be able to plan the moving of this hive to our apiary on Moss View Allotments!
We didn't see the queen in hive 2 this time, but we have seen her in the past, so we know that she is in there, but on opening Hive 1 we not only found eggs present, but were able to see the queen in this hive for the first time! Brilliant news, as it means we possibly have 2 viable colonies, though we wont know this for certain until we have capped brood of both drone and worker!
Finally a piccy of three of the four of the Moss View Beekeepers! Pat, Colin and Lee inspecting the hive floor inserts to check for Varroa mite 'drop', fortunately there doesnt seem to be any, so with regular management we should be able to keep the hives as clear as possible!
Anyhows, more piccies to follow soon, along with any news on the developments within the hives and our plans to move them to our apiary!