The Observation Bee Hive

Our Observation  Hive attracts interest to people of all ages

Look, can you see The Queen?

The Queen Bee

Red M Q Bee 2
She is the mother to all of the bees in the hive, her job is to lay eggs. She is slightly larger than the worker bees as she has a longer abdomen and legs. She can normally be seen with an escort of about 15 bees encircling her. You might see her inspecting the cells and then placing her abdomen inside as she lays her egg. I have marked her with paint to make her easier to spot and the colour to tell us what year she was born. The queen can live much longer than the worker bees, about three years or longer, but her egg laying reduces after a year or two so a good colony will supercede her before she starts to fail as a good layer.
The queen bee is produced from the same eggs as the worker bee but has a much larger cell, (also called a Queen Cup) to develop in and is fed with plenty of bee milk (Also called Royal Jelly).

Queen Cup, note its hanging downwards and not horizontally like the worker and drone cells.


The tiny eggs can be seen at the bottom of the cell. They hatch out after three days and then turn in to larvae.




Daddy I can see The Queen Bee!

We provide information leaflets at the shows and little notelets stuck on the hive showing what is happening.


The white and shiny larvae are fed by the nurse bees with a tiny amount of  bee milk, we call it  royal jelly, and then their diet is changed to pollen.




Sealed brood

These can be seen towards the centre of the hive where it is the warmest, they contain the pupae that hatch out 21 days from being an egg.

Look son that’s the Queen Bee, and she’s laying an egg.


At most of the shows I try to have the hive entrance laying flat to help the bees with their flight in and outside of the hive! The public are kept well away from the entrance.


This can be seen on the legs of the foraging bees returning to the hive, they then rub the pollen off their legs and push
it in to the cells more to the outside of the frame. This is stored ready to feed to the developing larvae.

Worker bees

All worker bees are female and they are produced from the queen bees fertilised eggs. Their tasks are set out from the moment they are born to the day that they die. In their short life (about six weeks in the summer) their duties start off as : Cell cleaning, brood incubation, feeding larvae, grooming and feeding the queen bee, hive cleaning, comb building, honey ripening, guard duties, air conditioning and after about three weeks they then become foraging bees. Bees are 100% vegetarian/vegan and only collect four things, water, nectar, pollen and propolis. When a worker bee has found a source of food she tells the other foraging bees by doing the “bee dance”. This lets the other bees know how to get to the same location.


These are the male bees and are developed in the hive from early spring to late summer. They are produced from the queen bees unfertilised eggs. Their cells are larger than than worker bees cells.
Their sole task is to mate with new virgin queens. They fly in to “drone assembly areas” where there is a warm thermal of air, they search for a virgin queen to mate with, after they have mated they die.


This can be seen around the top corners of the frames. It is the food of the honey bee. When it has been ripened it is capped over with beeswax.
It started as nectar and then became honey.

Steve Rose explaining to the interesting visitors just what’s happening in our Observation Hive.



This is located at the left hand side of the base. This can be filled with sugar syrup to ensure that the bees have sufficient foodstores and helps to reduce the queen bees egg laying rate to help reduce over crowding, in the observation hive. This feeder is the floating type, the bees walk onto the raft and suck the syrup through the small holes


This is the access to and from the hive where the bees are free to go out side foraging and go on cleansing flights. The square tube is usually decorated with leaves, twigs, or flowers to enable the bees to recognise their new entrance as soon possible on the side of the marquee. The bees soon get used to their new location by flying around the entrance area outside and re adjusting their bearings taking in the land marks such as the sun, trees, buildings and the hole they have flown out from.

Double glazed and centrally heated

This helps the bees to maintain the correct temperature, to cold and the brood weill die, to hot and the combs can collapse. We also fit  a heater inside the black plastic tube if we are to over winter the bees in the observation hive, a 12v heater is connected to a car battery if it is too cold. This prevents the brood from chilling.
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