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Spotting Eggs & Larva

Almost as challenging as finding the queen in a hive is seeing eggs and larva.They are tiny! An egg is smaller than a grain of rice, and is in the bottom of a dark cell. However, learning to see eggs and larva is very important, as they will tell you if you have a laying queen in the hive or not. Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks to help you see eggs and larva. 

One quick interesting fact- an egg takes 3 days to hatch into a larva. On day 1, an egg stands up vertically in a cell. Day 2 it’s tilted at an angle, and day 3 it is laying flat on the bottom of the cell as it begins hatching into a larva. 


Tips and tricks for spotting eggs & larva: 

  • Hold the frame so sunlight shines directly into the cells. This is critical to be able to see eggs & larva! 
  • Use your smartphone. Yes, phones can even help spot eggs and larva! Position the frame so the sun is shining into the cells. Next, hold your phone about 6 inches from the frame and take several pictures, making sure it is focusing on the cells. Or, take a very slow video at various heights above the frame. When you get back indoors, you can zoom in on the pictures or videos and often see eggs!  Regarding which frame to select to take the pictures and videos:
    • Take the video/pictures in the center area of a frame. Eggs are and larva are often not on the outer edges.
    • Use 1-2 frames with the most bee activity on them in the middle of the brood box. 
  • When you buy new frames, get black foundation. It is much easier to see white eggs and larva on black foundation rather than yellow or white! 
  • Tear down surrounding cells to expose a few cells, or use a knife to shorten cells to more easily see into the bottom. 
  • Use a powerful flashlight during an overcast day to shine into the bottom of the cells. This is very effective! 
  • If you still can’t see eggs or small larva, but have seen your queen, capped brood, large larva, and there are no queen cells, there are most likely eggs.

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