I should start this by mentioning that the type of beehives that are used in western-Europe, always come with a screened bottom board AND a drawer underneath. I follow a bunch of beepeeking groups and blogs, within and beyond my own region. Watching these, I’ve noticed beekeepers in some warmer climates, or in places with less pest issues, don’t use the drawer underneath the screen. Perhaps this is done because of temperature regulation, I really don’t know. I think it might be a solution to chronic humidity problems. I live in a very temperate climate, at the moment we are having a mild winter (so far) and I love having the drawer underneath the screen installed at all times. During the winter, when it wouldn’t be wise to open the hive, we can all get curious to know what goes on inside the hive. The drawer allows us to see this.
You probably know and understand, as responsible adults, that everything you do leaves a trace. A mess to be cleaned up. Same goes for bees. When there are young bees, capable of generating new wax, you’ll see beautiful, little, oval, translucent flakes lying on the drawer. They’ll appear underneath the area where these bees are hanging out and building new comb. Activity from the brood nest shows up as rough, brown powder, ‘brood mulch‘ as you could call it, and sometimes you’ll see distinct parts of a cell-lid lying there. Of course, one of the main uses for these drawers is to monitor varroa. After a treatment, it will not take long before you see varroa mites fall out. This is good. Every dead mite is a good mite. Just be sure to remove the drawer before dripping oxalic acid/sugar water on the bees… I’ve had a lot of cleaning to do this summer.
Last Monday, I was at a meeting for the beekeeping course I’m enlisted in. We were all busy talking about bees, of course, and I mentioned that one of my hives has eggs on the drawer. To my surprise, everyone else reacted as if this was a very strange occurrence. The hive in question, my red one, has this almost all the time. All the way through summer I found eggs underneath the brood nest, and I noticed during inspections that some cells contained more than one egg. The red hive is the least developed, despite an equal start to my dark blue hive. I’m waiting for my teacher’s comments on this, but I’m afraid the red queen is scheduled for execution. I’ll try to raise a queen from the hives I’m happier about or get one from a source I trust.