THE GOOD NEWS: So the good news is...I installed my hive back to its original location today without a hitch. Even though it was mostly overcast, I decided to go ahead and get it done since the threat of thunderstorms loomed in the forecast. Like I did when I moved it a few feet ahead to install my new custom made hive stand, I decided to move it piece by piece, and while I had everything apart, do an inspection. A few puffs of smoke is all it took, and that was at the entrance. I didn't even have to use any when I took the top cover off, and surprisingly, I wasn't swarmed by inquisitive bees wanting to know who was invading the premises. I moved the top super first and off to the side, then put the lower brood box in its new location. And while I had the boxes apart, I did my inspection of the top chamber first since that's where the queen laid eggs last week (she laid none in the bottom chamber at all last week).
So after I finished inspecting both boxes, I put it all back together again, then I put a piece of corrugated cardboard in front of the entrance to act as a landing board -- that's to keep the girls from falling through the cracks of the heavy mesh screen on top of the stand. A friend of mine owns a sign shop, and he gave me about ten sheets of the corrugated board that were considered mistakes and couldn't be used. Then I put the bamboo reed back over the entrance so the girls would re-orient themselves, but honestly, I don't think it was necessary. As soon as I got the hive back together and put the hive-top feeder back on, they were flying in and out like crazy, and I noticed that quite a few were buzzing all in front of the hive. Maybe they were re-orientating themselves -- or maybe just irritated by something blocking the front door. Either way, all is back to normal as far as location is concerned and all the moving around is over for now.
THE BAD NEWS! Unfortunately, it looks like something is wrong with my queen still. This afternoon I found one frame out of twenty frames that contained with eggs. That's it, one frame of newly laid eggs -- and no more. Although she has plenty of places to lay, especially in the bottom chamber, she's laid one frame of eggs in the top chamber, on both sides of the frame, and that's it. And what's really odd, I couldn't even find the eggs from last week's inspection with Don Hopkins, the state's chief apiary inspector. Its like she lays eggs and then they just disappear. And I didn't find one larvae or capped cell in the entire hive -- none at all. I found about six drone cells but nothing else. And they're bringing in pollen, there was plenty of nectar there, and they're making honey like crazy -- but that's it.
So I called Betsy at Busy Bee Apiaries in Carrboro, North Carolina, and we put our heads together -- and we're both perplexed by it all. She told me that the colony will sometimes eat the eggs when they have no other food coming in, but with the syrup I'm feeding and the pollen they're bringing in, that shouldn't be a problem. But it looks like something is causing her to be sporatic and not doing very well, so I made the decision to replace her. I ordered a new queen and I get her Wednesday morning -- so as soon as I get back home, I'll introduce her to the hive.
The old queen? Well, I may not have to "pinch" her after all. Betsy told me that if I could find her, please bring her and some attendants to the apiary on Wednesday..and she wants to hive her and see what she's doing. I told Besty that if I can find her before I leave on Wednesday, I'll certainly do just that. But if time escapes me, it looks like she'll have to go to that great apiary in the sky, but I plan to try to find her and take her with me. I really don't want to do anything to her, to have to put her down...I'd much rather her spend out her days as an observation queen and to possibly help the experts figure out what is going on with her. Who knows...maybe she has something that could be named "Mark's Syndrome" -- and my queen will go down in the history books!
More on what happens after my Wednesday escapade to Carrboro!
Until next time friends, BEE viligent!