Bee Space – Bees at Barrenjoey

Welcome to Bee Space

We thought Bee Space would be a great name for this page. Bee Space is the space (5.5-6mm) which Bees will leave open without building wax, anything smaller or larger they will join up with wax. An American discovered this so its generally accepted that you need to leave 12mm between frames in a hive, any closer and they will web them together – any further apart and they will bridge across.

Mid Spring Inspections

Today marked 3 weeks since the proper arrival of our new swarm in B2 and 3 weeks since the new Queen was installed. Unfortunately our new swarm took up residence only a few days 

before that horrible run of weather we had – despite some activity at the hive they just could not get enough food to build their comb and stores so sadly a large proportion of the colony died from starvation.

Fortunately a small population remained, however it was apparent that they were Queenless, either through death or absence in the first part. The B1 hive has been reinvigorated with the arrival of the new Queen and on inspection I saw capped brood and eggs including an exciting viewing of the Queen herself. It will be a long summer of establishing a large enough colony population to nurse the brood and forage for stores to last the winter. Realistically there will be no harvest of honey this season and we will allow the colony to strengthen for next year. ​Fortunately the presence of eggs meant I could swap a frame of comb over to the weak Queenless hive – this means they can now generate their own Queen from one of these eggs! It really is quite the dramatic lifecycle.

The workers build a large peanut shaped egg cell that sits on top of the comb and then insert one of the fertilised (female) eggs in to the cup and feed it an abundance of Royal Jelly. After 15 days (normal workers are 21 days) the new Queen emerges and spends a few days hardening her exoskeleton before going on her mating flight/s. The new Queen will then fly off to a Drone Congregation area and mate with 10 to 15 males, all of which die upon successfully copulating. She will then return to her hive, guided by the pheremones of her workers and then get busy laying eggs, around 2 million that she lay in her lifetime. Having a wife who is currently pregnant with our second son, my heart goes out to her. 

The next inspection will be in a week to confirm that they have made a Queen Cell, then nature will take its course!

Richard Ilsley