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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Queen, the Queen, Where is the Queen?

Today Jeff and I inspected the hives at his house.  We started with the small swarm hive.  On February 19, a month ago, I inspected this hive and found about a baseball sized clump of bees there with plenty of honey but no sign of a queen.

On that February day, we took a frame of brood and eggs from Lenox Pointe and gave it to this hive.  I had intended to move another frame of brood and eggs from Colony Square but they were so angry when I opened them that day that I forgot.

Today this hive was doing well.  We saw brood and eggs, honey both capped and uncapped and generally it looked great.  I didn't get it, because if they had made a queen from the frame of brood and eggs we gave them, she should barely be laying at this point.



The cells below contain eggs - bad pictures - sorry.



And here is a frame of capped and uncapped honey.



The hive was doing so well that we gave it a third box and moved on to Five Alive.



Five Alive had several frames of brood that looked just like this - solid worker cells capped and almost ready to emerge.  They had two full boxes so we gave them a third box and put a ladder of filled comb from the box below to help them get started.



Then we went to Lenox Pointe.  On February 19, there was lots of brood in the bottom box as well as in the second box.  Since the bottom is a deep, we took a brood and egg frame from the second (medium) box to give to the swarm hive.

Today there was no brood in the bottom box and there was some honey and lots of empty cells.  In the second box there were seven frames of honey and the eighth frame was a new foundationless frame that I had inserted to replace the egg frame for the Swarm hive.  That frame was filled with honey comb now that was all drone sized comb.  There were eggs in most of the cells on this frame, but it will be all drone brood.

The third box was solid honey.  There was no space to build.

As I thought about it, here's what I think happened.  When we moved the frame from Lenox Pointe, we actually took the LP queen with that frame and she simply set up shop in the small swarm hive.  She is doing well and the hive is thriving.

Meanwhile LP made a queen with their eggs but because it was so early, the queen was poorly mated and is not doing a good job at the moment.  Since the queen seems inadequate to us (who knows what the bees think), Jeff and I decided to put a new frame of brood and eggs from Five Alive into this hive and see if they can make a queen.  This will effectively interrupt the varroa mite's brood cycle while the new queen is being made.

Meanwhile the frame of brood will provide enough pheromone to keep the bees happy and purposeful in that hive and we gave them another box so there would be somewhere for the current queen to lay or for a  new one.

We only opened Colony Square for a moment.  They too need a new box since their top box was filled with drawn comb and nectar.  I didn't bring enough equipment with me, so I will put a new box on CS tomorrow.  Here's what one of their beautiful wax frames looked like as it was getting started.



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8 comments:

  1. Amazing. I am always in awe of your bees. I hope they all do well this season. So far it looks great.

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  2. I must say that that last picture, the one of the frame with the foundationless comb, looks stunningly beautiful. Is it only a crazy beekeeper that would say that? :)

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  3. Why will the LP bees make a new queen when they already have one (a poorly mated and drone laying one it would seem)? You would have to find her and kill her and then they'll make queen cells for you. Otherwise they won't bother. Is there something I'm missing about this colony? Just trying to help and not to criticise.

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  4. The LP bees may not make a new queen, but if they don't like the one they have, this time of year when bees are swarming, it is typical for bees to make queen cells. If they don't have the resources, ie, a frame of brood and fertile eggs, they can't do that. I will then find the old queen and let her go if nothing has changed when I next go into that hive.

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  5. But if she's just a poorly mated drone layer her queen pheromones may be just fine and the bees may ignore your frame of eggs and larvae. My plan of action in such circumstances would be to kill the queen and offer them a mated queen or sealed queen cell. Plus you wouldn't lose most of your bees if they do make a queen cell and swarm.

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  6. While you are probably right, I hate killing queens so I gave them more room (there was no room for laying because all the cells had been back-filled with nectar) and while drone cells were being used, drone comb all that was available to her, so I am waiting until I go back into the hive to see how they use the new box I gave them - if they drew drone comb and all she is really laying are drones, then I'll either get a new queen and kill her or remove her.

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  7. I know what that feels like Linda. It's not a nice thing to do. I hope you believe that I'm coming from a good place with this. I love your blog and just don't want you to have difficulties with a colony un-necessarily. I am all too familiar with the siuation with your hive as a couple of years back two of my summer virgin queens didn't get properly mated (due to inclement weather)and I had quite a time finding the drone layer, getting rid of her and uniting the colonies with queenright ones. The bees will thank you in the long run if you kill her sooner rather than later and they can get on with getting their colony back on track. Good luck whatever you decide to do!

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  8. Just re-read your last comment Linda and I see you think she may be a viable queen and not a drone layer! It all makes sense now. Please post a follow up to this as I'm dying to know what happens next!

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