Bee Brood

A bee brood consist of cells made by workers where the eggs, larvae and pupae develop

A bee brood is where a queen lays the eggs for the baby bees to hatch. There are three stages in the brood: the egg, the larvae, and the pupa. The queen will go and lay eggs in each worker bee’s cell, and the hive will support her babies. This is a full-time job to lay the brood, but it is the responsibility of the entire hive to keep the brood alive and nourished.

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    What Is a Brood Pattern?

    Most brood patterns will be in the shape of the bee’s nest. That is because the cells will have already been created by the worker bees. The queen will go into these cells to lay little white eggs. Humans cannot tell what eggs are fertilized and which are not, but every bee in the hive will know. 

    The shape or pattern of the brood will be dependent on how the hive originally looked. Beehives are complex structures, and every hive has a different shape or pattern. 

    When Does the Brood Cycle Begin?

    The brood cycle usually begins in late winter and early spring. The honey bees will expand the brood chamber throughout the season, and the queen will begin to lay her eggs in the winter cluster. It’s possible that the location of the brood itself will change as honey bees build new combs in the hive or as beekeepers contribute more boxes.

    Many factors change the queen’s ability to lay eggs quickly. To fill an entire brood, it can take up to two or three weeks. Not every cell will have a fertilized egg, and not all will develop at the same speed. Drones will have a 24-day cycle, worker bees will have 21, and queens will have 16 days. However, it can still vary by other factors like weather, food, and more.

    How Does the Queen Create the Brood?

    One of the main responsibilities of the queen will be to lay eggs for the next generation. The other bees will know to create cells or the brood based on the queen’s pheromones. If there is a decline in pheromones from the queen, the workers will know to start building more cells for the queen to start laying eggs in. 

    The queen will not create the cells, but she will go to the ones that have already been created. When she is there, she will glue new eggs to the bottom of each cell. She may do up to a row a day, so the bees in the same frame may be the same exact age. The queen lays the eggs in a circular pattern. 

    Some beekeepers will use something called a “queen excluder” to prevent the queen from creating the brood in unintended brood areas. These excluders are screens that have spaces wide enough for honey bees to cross through, but not the queen, ensuring that the brood is created where the beekeepers can provide active supervision.

    From the levels of pheromones released by the queen, worker bees know when to start building more cells for the new eggs

    Why Is a Bee Brood Important to the Colony?

    The bee brood is the next generation of bees that will service the hive. Some of the cells with the baby bees will also hold nectar and honey, which are important for the older bees. Without the brood, the bees’ colony would eventually die off, and there would be no other pollinators to take their place. That is why this is such an important area of the colony. 

    Although beekeepers do not take care of the brood, it is important to check in on the brood. It allows the beekeepers to understand when their hive is healthy or if it is suffering. Reading the brood is essential to maintaining an organized and healthy colony. 

    Who Is Taking Care of the Bee Brood?

    The queen bee’s only job is to maintain the bee brood by laying the eggs. She does not create the cells or maintain the babies after she lays them. It is the hive’s responsibility to ensure that the queen’s eggs hatch and are properly nourished. This is also something that allows the beekeepers to see how well the bees are working together. 

    The worker bees primarily nourish the eggs with royal jelly. The young are fed royal jelly for three days until their diet shifts to honey and pollen. It is also at this time of hatching that a few female larvae are selected to become queens. These larvae are fed royal jelly for six days; this surplus of jelly expedites the queen bee development process.

    How Do Worker Bees Take Care of the Bee Brood?

    Worker bees do get a lot of the grunt work in the hive. That is what they were born for, and that is what they do. The jobs worker bees do for the hive include collecting pollen and nectar, tending to the drones and queen, and feeding the larvae or baby bees. Worker bees also defend the colony from pest invasions. 

    Without worker bees, the brood may never survive. These are the bees that feed and ensure the next generation thrives and that the hive is safe enough for them. Worker bees are the ones we often see flying from flower to flower.

    What Is a Brood Nest or Brood Box?

    Beekeepers use a type of box with multiple layers. The brood nest will be divided from the rest of the box and it will typically be on the bottom level and separated. This allows the workers to see the queen work but not interfere with the laying process. The brood nest will form the base of the structure or box.

    After the queen has laid the eggs, the worker bees are responsible for taking care of the brood

    How Big Is a Bee Brood?

    During a queen bee’s lifetime, she will lay eggs around three to four times in her life. Each time she could lay anywhere between 600 to 800 eggs each day. Sometimes queens have been reported to lay upwards of 1,500 each day. Depending on how many eggs she will lay during her cycles will determine how big the brood gets.

    What Is a Milk Brood?

    “Milk brood” refers to a period when the larvae are floating in a white, milky substance. Glands inside of a nursing bee produce the milky substance to provide nutrients for the developing larvae.

    What Is a Capped Brood?

    During the last stage of the brood, larvae will turn into pupae. During this stage, they will begin to create a cocoon that has a capped look. Caps cover the cells, which is why it’s called a “capped brood.” 

    When this occurs, the cells don’t look open. Each cell is blocked with a cap, which must not be disturbed or opened. This is the last stage of a brood as it enters the pupa stage.

    Why Is It Important for Beekeepers to Know What a Bee Brood Is?

    Understanding a bee brood and the bee life stages is vital to successful beekeeping. Beginning beekeepers often learn brooding first, since it’s essential to the survival of the colony. 

    Bees do this naturally, but beekeepers observe and monitor the process. If a problem arises, a beekeeper can take measures to correct or mitigate the effects and assist the bees in successful reproduction.

    Why-Is-It-Important-for-Beekeepers to Know-What-a-Bee-Brood-Is
    In order to maintain a healthy brood and colony, beekeepers should inspect the hive at least twice a month

    How Do Beekeepers Inspect a Bee Brood?

    In the spring or summer, bee broods should be inspected every two to three weeks. This helps beekeepers understand the health of a colony early enough to correct any reproductive problems. Beekeepers typically inspect the brood with a full suit, smoking out the bees to inspect the brood unencumbered. 

    The brood is typically on the bottom shelf, and beekeepers inspect the space, food, eggs, and swarms, as well as look for signs of disease.

    One of the concerns is American Foulbrood, which is a highly infectious bacteria that causes disease in bees. American Foulbrood typically forms in the hive and causes the brood to look black or coffee brown. Usually, the larvae will be sunken at the bottom of the cell. 

    Antibiotics can treat American Foulbrood effectively to prevent its spread, but then bee produce needs to be drug-labelled. Antibiotics shouldn’t be used in colonies with the honey flow. There is no cure for American Foulbrood – treatment is intended to prevent the infection from establishing in the colony.

    Bee Broods Spawn the Next Generation of a Hive’s Bees

    The bee brood is one of the most essential places a beekeeper can focus on. It is where the next generation of the colony is held and one of the first places a beekeeper can spot a nasty disease. This is the focal point of many beehives.


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