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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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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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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not the Best Bee Day - Zia in Jeopardy

Today I went through my hives in my backyard.  My friend Julie's husband, Seth, who used to keep bees in 1989 and wants to get back to it, came over and went through the hives with me.

We've had rain and cooler weather over the last ten days or so.  And the nectar flow has about stopped.  So I didn't expect much.

We found roly-polys under one hive!  There were also earwigs, I saw one roach, and I smashed three large wax moth worms.

It's the scheduled week for powdered sugar every four days, so I started today.  The bees were not pleased with my effort to keep them healthy!

I only added a new box to one hive (below).  I did shift around some of the top boxes to encourage the bees to build a little more.  I also, to account for drift, add some identifying markings to all the hives.

Below is another hive that I shifted the box positions.

I don't have photos of the bad part of the day.  We went up to the nuc housing the Little Kitten swarm.  I know not to open or go through it for three weeks after installing the new queen (the Zia queen) but I hadn't pulled the queen cage and wanted to get it out.

We opened the top of the nuc.  The bees are quiet and calm - there are lots of them thanks to the nuc I created a week ago.  There between the frames was the queen cage, with the queen still inside.  The bees weren't attacking the cage or biting it.  The queen was not released but was alive and seemed vigorous.

That's when I did the stupid thing.  I thought, "At this point I should direct release her."  So I opened the cage and she walked down into the rest of the bees.

THEN I thought, "Wonder why they hadn't released her…..could there already be a queen in this hive?"

Too late to retrieve her majesty.  I guess I just cross my fingers that they accept her and life is good rather than my other thought which is that there is a competing queen who will kill Zia on sight.

And how will I know later what queen is in the hive, if there is another queen already present?  I can't say, "Will the real Zia step up."  I have no idea what she looks like compared to any other.  I guess I can add this to the growing long list of my bee mistakes………….
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  1. Linda,
    Don't feel like your alone on this one. I made a split a while back and waited 32 days, saw no brood other than drone brood. On day 34 I put in a queen in a cage, no fan fare for her. Three days later she was still in the cage, I released her, still no fan fair. Five days later I find capped brood and larva in the center box, duh....

  2. Hi Linda,
    "I know not to open or go through it for three weeks after installing the new queen..." Is 3 weeks a common practice, please? Good luck with your Zia & thank you!

  3. Linda, I am no expert but from my reading would guess that if the workers had raised a queen while the queen they came with was caged, that new queen would have killed the caged one. And if the workers decided to raise another but she is still in development, your caged queen will likely find her now and dispatch her in the cell.

    I wanted to mark my queen as I released her but she was a nimble little lady and beetled up over my hand at which point I had to pop her into the open hive. Never wore big heavy leather gloves again when working the hive! They interfere heavily with dexterity.

    Here we put the new queen into the hive in her cage, but release her in 3-5 days, then leave things be for two weeks while she gets her bearings and gets laying.


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