Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Queen in the New Hive

I checked yesterday to see if the presumptive new queen was busy laying.  I found two frames full of bees on both sides.  The bees had been filling cells with nectar, which they were busily gulping down thanks to the smoke.

Both queen cells, which had been capped, were empty but there was no sign anywhere of a queen.  Am I wrong in thinking that it they should be done with mating flights by now, at least a week since they emerged from their cells?  Did they both succumb in a fight?  Did the remaining queen fail to survive her mating flights?  Another question came to mind.  The bees will try to make a queen if they discover they are queenless if available young brood is present.  Are they always successful in determining if the larva is sufficiently young enough to be a viable queen candidate?  In other words, can they go through the process of continuing with the royal jelly,  constructing the queen cell and capping that only to have an ordinary worker bee emerge at the end?  I have no idea, and perhaps someone knows this answer.
At any rate, I added a couple more frames.  There was definitely some very young brood in at least one of the frames, so we'll see if this one works. 
I decided to go ahead and look in both of the other hives since the smoker was going.  Those queens have been laying like crazy.  There were many frames very full of brood.  They have also been putting in a lot of honey in hive #2, which is good since they had come out of winter pretty light.  Much is already capped.  I did not check the super I had put on that hive last week but I'm feeling, with the clover going strong, that I had better add a second.  They can at least build out comb on that one.  Hive #1 also had a ton of capped brood and was looking to start growing quickly in numbers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Good looking nuc

Our medium on top of Jim's new large body and bottom board.
I checked our little 5 frame nuc yesterday.  It was full of bees.  There were two queen cells hanging side by side, both capped.  By my calculations, they should emerge today or tomorrow.  I decided since they hadn't emerged yet, I would go ahead and expand the hive.  I placed the five frames in a 9 frame super, setting it on top of a friend's new 10 frame large hive body.  Once the queen gets established and begins laying, he can take this setup to his land.  He may or may not take the queen.  If he decides he wants her, I'll start another in a nuc.  I've decided we need to keep a backup.  Last year, with both hives failing, it was a scramble to get them queened.
Since this one is right outside our barn, I'll keep an eye on it.  If I'm lucky, I'll see a queen take off on a mating flight!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Laying Queen Confirmed

Last week we found the queen in hive #1 but no sign of larva yet.  I opened again today and there are already capped worker cells and plenty of larva.  Sorry about the blurry picture, I was trying to take the photo with a glove on and must have moved.  So, I put it back together and they are ready to go. 
I also checked the little nuc I had put a frame in last week and found two supercedure cells with larva in them, though not capped yet.  So they will be making a queen as well, which I'll likely give to a friend who lost his bees and wants to start up again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Both hives are queenright!  We inspected both today and found the queen in each right away.  The brand new queen did not seem to be laying yet, though there could be some eggs.  After finding her, my main objective, I didn't want to disturb the hive even more so closed it right up.  I'll check again in 6 or 7 days.  By then, we should easily find some larva at least.
The other queen, in hive #2, was still in the top box, middle rows of frames.  I set her aside and pulled the frame she was just on, along with several others, and started up a nuc.  Hopefully this will work this time to have them rear another queen.  All the bees died from the first nuc, including some frames that were fully capped but the bees never emerged.  I think it had just been too cold, and the little nuc couldn't stay warm enough.  Maybe we'll be lucky this time, with the temps forecast to be in the 70's pretty much all week.

At least this frame will get put to use.  I have to give a talk on Friday for a friend who teaches a class at the university on technology in daily life in ancient Greece and Rome.  I'm talking about my wine making and beekeeping, so I'll take this frame in and use it with my talk.  That's a bottle of sour cherry and a bottle of white wine sitting on the floor by the frames.  Both have our "Grumpy Bee" label!
One thing in the talk I will mention is the swarm we had last year, just one week shy of being a full year ago.  The number of bees in hive #2, and their behavior, indicates to me a swarm just may be in the offing again.  Maybe pulling a thousand or so bees, about 5 frames, and putting on a super will help prevent that.  Likely, not.