Upon an inspection of the beehive a few weeks ago, we noticed there was very little brood and we couldn't find the queen. We were really worried that we may have killed her somehow (every first time beekeeper's worst nightmare). David was making arrangements to buy a new queen ASAP so our hive wouldn't be too affected by her absence, but before we jumped the gun we contacted a few experts for their opinions (thanks for all your help, Natalie!). We decided first of all to conduct a very thorough search of each frame to make absolutely certain that we did not have a queen before buying a replacement.
And what do you know, we found her!
We were so relieved once we spotted the queen, but still worried about the lack of brood. During the summer when they are foraging nonstop, worker bees only tend to live about six weeks. They basically work themselves to death. If the queen hasn't laid any new eggs in a while, the hive population could drop drastically in a short period of time. So this led us to do more research on why our queen would not be laying up to her full potential, and we reached the conclusion that she may be pollen bound. Many of the frames were so packed with pollen (and also honey, but not as much as pollen) that it seemed the queen had nowhere to lay her eggs. David figured we should switch around some of the frames, moving some that were still somewhat empty over by where the queen was hanging out. By giving her some frames with space to lay eggs, we hoped she would ramp up production.
While I was at work yesterday, David opened the hive to take a quick peek and noticed a lot more brood. Success! We caught the problem fairly early on and were able to solve it with a little research and following our instincts. So far there has been such a steep learning curve to this whole beekeeping adventure (which I fully expected) but I'm glad we are learning so much about them. After all, if everything went perfectly, we wouldn't learn much, right? At least that's what I keep telling myself!