Sunday, June 20, 2010

One new queen is well on her way. The other could be in trouble!

Saturday was inspection day for my three hives. While I had been inside the yellow, mother hive already this week to pull the green drone frame and replace it, all of the hives needed a really decent look-see. And while the temperature was at 94 degrees and the relative humidity was 48% -- I braved the elements to get it done (and hopefully I lost a few pounds too). It was like being in a sauna. 

Here's the work of the new Carniolan queen in the orange hive. I have to admit that is one fine looking frame of brood. This was the hive I was most worried about because the workers were so slow to leave the hive. The queen was introduced on June 2nd and she was out by June 8th. She was readily accepted, but I couldn't figure out why the workers were dragging their feet on foraging. I still don't know. But no worries now, they're out of the hive daily and now I can see that the queen is doing her job. I also found eggs and larvae so I have some of all stages of the bee birthing process going on here. The orange hive is well on its way to success.

While the orange hive seems to be fine, the lime green hive (a frame from it pictured right) still has troubles it seems. This is the hive that went from swarm cells to supersedure cells -- then those disappeared and it developed a laying worker. So after shaking all the bees way away from the hive, I introduced a new Carniolan queen at the same time I put one in the  orange hive. They both came from the same apiary. This queen was accepted as well...but look at this pattern. Spotty at best and there were lots of raised drone caps all throughout this hive. If there were new eggs, I didn't see them, but I did find larvae, so she has been laying. And I found the queen too, she was on the last frame (like all of them always are) so she's most definitely alive.

Here is the other side of the frame from the green hive. As you can see, while there are drone caps here, she has laid a decent pattern of flat, worker brood here too. And in the ones not capped, you can see glistening white larvae nestled in the cells. This capped brood is new. The only capped brood in the hive on June 2nd was from the mother hive (the big yellow hive). The capped brood in the hive on that date has already hatched. So it is my assumption that the workers have capped all of the cells you see here since June 2nd...just like the bees did in the orange hive that's thriving.

If I'm doing the math correctly, it is distinctly possible that a lot of the drone cells in this hive were from the laying worker I hopefully shook away earlier this month. Here's my thoughts: It takes 21 days for a bee to go from an egg to an adult. I shook this hive on June 2nd and the frames held typical laying worker eggs -- two and three per cell. So even though I introduced a new queen to this hive that day, I believe it is possible that the worker bees went about their daily routine and fed and capped the eggs and brood as they should. And my calculations say that brood should emerge sometime this coming week. After all, from June 2nd until June 19th -- that's only seventeen days, so its possible this mess isn't related to the new queen at all, but a hold-over from the dreaded laying worker. Least that's my thinking. Of course I'm open for theories here so throw them out at will.

While I plan to talk to the beekeeper at the apiary where I bought her and I've left some messages for some experiences beeks, I am now thinking that I should give her a few more days and watch for new eggs before I replace her. After all, she walked into a mess from the laying worker, so she hasn't had it easy. 

Of course I'll keep everybody updated on what is going on, but if you have some ideas, I am more than willing to know what they are.

ADDENDUM: On Sunday, I decided to swap some frames from the yellow hive over to the green hive. The yellow hive has plenty of full frames of worker brood, and since the green hive has mixed frames of worker and drone brood, I decided to swap some frames. After shaking every bee off the frames, I swapped them -- thus giving the green hive more workers that will hatch soon -- and the big yellow mother hive can handle a few more drones. Hopefully this will work out and keep the green hive on even keel until I can figure out what is going on. Wish us luck! 

1 comment:

  1. That is a bit confusing. I've used s similar strategy to keep a weak hive going, but with a weak queen it never went anywhere. I have a so-so hive with a queen that lays a spotty pattern just like that.

    With the help of a friend I decided to combine my weakest hive with a new queen and five frames from a nuc into another deep on top. We put a double screen board divider between and will remove it this week. I think I may get a few more nucs and maybe raise some queens to have them on hand during the year.



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