Bee Movies – The Castes of the Honey Bee

Here’s my first short film on honey bees – this time looking at the three different castes within a colony.

Bee Movies – The Castes of the Honey Bee from Kevin Cook on Vimeo.

Hive Inspection – 24 03 2012

General Notes and Info

This was our first proper hive inspection for 2012.  We had a sudden and sustained warm spell a couple of weeks back and the bees started foraging so I had already put a super on each of the three hives.  I didn’t delve into the hives at that point as it was a little too cold to be splitting the cluster – but I was keen to get the supers on as we were caught out last year with an early nectar flow and the bees ran out of storage space.

I’m sure we was not the only beekeepers in the South East of England doing their first hive inspections on 24th March as it was a glorious day – hitting about 19° C with little or no wind.

We keep our bees in National hives – and later added an eek on the brood boxes to give us 14×12 brood frames.  The idea behind this was to give the bees more space than provided by a standard National brood box.  The alternative to this was to add either a super box above or another brood – but we didn’t want to be handling two layers within the brood section of the hives in fear of losing the queen.  In actual practice the 14×12 frames are quite difficult to handle – especially when they have a reasonable amount of stores on them.

All three hives were clogged up with propolis so we cleaned the top rails to help with future hive inspections.

Bees in good mood in general, but hive 4 were a little more protective than the others and I got my first sting of the season – on my thumb!  Inadvertently crushed a bee when picking up a frame and it paid me back.   After this there were three or four bees constantly buzzing us – and even following up to 20 foot away from hives.

Hive Records
Presently we have three hives – numbered 2, 3 and 4.  No. 1 spot is reserved for an additional hive or swarm box should it come about.

Hive 2
We spotted the clipped and marked queen (white) – and she has laid up on three frames with eggs, larvae at various stages and capped brood.  This included a few capped drone brood too.  There was not a great amount of stores on this hive outside of the three frames with brood on.  There was no stores in the super.

Hive 3
We did not spot the queen in this hive (she is unmarked and not clipped), but there was plenty of eggs, larvae at various stages and capped brood – across four frames.  There was plenty of stores and the beginnings of stores in the super.

Hive 4
We spotted the clipped and marked queen (white) – and she has laid up on four frames with eggs, larvae at various stages and capped brood.   There was plenty of stores and at least two frames in the super that were almost full.  None were capped off though.

What’s all the buzz about bees?

Welcome to and my first ever blog on here.

Just in case you’ve not read the about info, this website is here to record and share my beekeeping experiences.  I’m in no way holding myself up as some kind of expert.  Far from it!  The world of beekeeping is so varied and complex, with many areas of specialisation, that I doubt there is anyone who would claim to know it all.

My wife (Tiffany) and I have been keeping bees for about 6-years and belong to Epping Forest Beekeepers. (EFBKA)  This is a local division of Essex Beekeepers (EBKA), which itself is a regional division of the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA).  The drive and purpose of these organisations is to further the craft of beekeeping and the welfare of the honey bee.

If you are thinking of taking up beekeeping in the UK I strongly recommend you find out about your local beekeeping association and join it before going any further.  Whilst beekeeping can be a relatively low-maintenance pastime and easy to get into, you will be responsible for the well-being of living creatures that play a vital role in our lives.  And as your bees will become part of the wider bee population you will also play a part in maintaining the general health and welfare of our entire bee population.

If you live somewhere where there are no local beekeeping associations then you should contact your nearest beekeeper and see if they would be willing to show you the ropes.  The vast majority of beekeepers that I have come across are only too happy to help expand the responsible beekeeping community.  If you are going to be keeping your bees nearby to them they’ll also have a vested interest in helping you to do things properly.

As well a documenting our beekeeping season I also intend to start putting together some short films about honey bees, beekeeping and beekeepers themselves.  These are not aimed at the seasoned beekeeper (though I hope they find them entertaining and interesting) but rather the newbie, beginner and maybe intermediate beekeeper.  I found I struggled with some of the basic concepts at first (and still do from time to time) and I hope this serves as both an aid for those learning and as a reminder to me on how things should be done.

Anyway – that probably gives you the bigger picture of what this website is about.  Please feel free to register and post questions.  I will do my best to answer these or find the answers for you.  I’m also open to suggestions on film content – so please email me on

In the meantime, here’s some slo-mo footage of the bees I took a while ago.

Honey Bees in slow motion from Kevin Cook on Vimeo.