If anyone ever says that honey bees are not industrious creatures, they're liars. I know they're a helluva lot smarter than me and they know what they're doing in their own house, but I can't help but wonder why they do what they do. Maybe a part of it is my years in law enforcement and I know much of it has to do with my fascination with these little creatures.
I decided to give the bees in the new lime colored hive (a split from the yellow hive) a week free of any interference from me so they could adjust to their new surroundings. As you recall, when I first moved the frames from the mother hive to the lime green hive, they had four swarm cells on the bottoms of the frames. But a week later, the bees tore two of those down and made two sealed supersedure cells in the middle of the frames instead. That was last week, so I figured I would give them a week and check on them.
Fast forward to Saturday.
So I decided to get inside the green hive and see how things were doing and if anything had hatched from the two supersedure cells. And the answer is no, the two original supersedure cells were still intact. But there was something new that had popped up in the last seven days. Eight, that's right, eight NEW supersedure cells joined the previous two cells -- so now this hive has a whopping ten cells. Apparently the girls thought two may be seriously lacking -- so they made a whole bunch of new ones to fall back on.
I didn't make the picture to the right, and I didn't carry my own camera with me (honestly I didn't think I would need it) but the picture shows you what classic supersedure cells look like. On one of the frames in my hive, it had three cells; another couple had two cells each and one just had a single cell like the others from last week. All of them were very prominent and jutting out from the middle of the frames. While I was a little shocked to find so many new cells, I remembered that Richard Underhill of the Peace Bee Farm told me that it only takes four days for bees to make and cap queen cells. So while this colony is queenless, they have still been busy building new queen cells -- and they have been bringing in some nectar and pollen too.
I took the one frame that had three queen cells and cut them off. My mother hive is in need of empty comb so the queen can have room to lay, so I removed every queen cell, shook all the bees off, and put it in the yellow mother hive. The bees in the yellow hive are making honey like crazy and they have made it in frames that I prefer the queen would use for laying eggs. So while they make comb in the shallow supers, and they , I added more deep frames for the queen to lay.
While I was at it in the yellow hive, I removed two frames of old honey that the bees made last year but didn't use over the winter. I scraped the dark honey and comb completely off the frames and then put the frames near the hive for the bees to clean off. Once the frames are clean, I'll put them back in use again -- thus rotating them and keeping cleaner, newer comb in the hive.
Just what will happen with the lime hive, I just don't know, but it should be interesting. While I'm toying with the idea of letting them raise their own queen, I've read that emergency or supersedure queens are pretty much substandard and weak -- so maybe allowing them to raise their own may be a big waste of time. I will have access to a mated queen or two this coming week, so I may cut all the supersedure cells down, leave them queenless overnight, then put a caged queen in for slow release. I have several days to think about it and mull it over and that's what I plan to do.
By the way, I think it may be time for yet another split from the yellow hive. I have a brand new hive from Brushy Mountain that I've painted orange, so that will be the next hive that I fill with inhabitants. And since I will have access to mated queens soon, I may just go ahead and get another and just make the split now.
More later. Until them, bee happy ya'll!