I've been meaning to update everyone on introducing a new queen to my failing hive, but the last few days have been really hectic. Then when I got a post from my long distance beekeeping friend Mil over at Urban Farm and Beehives, I knew I couldn't keep everyone in suspense any longer and had to relay the good news!
I decided to check my orange hive on Thursday, May 29th. The new caged queen from Triad Bee Supply had been in the hive since Saturday, so most likely had already been released. While I felt confident she would most likely be okay, I was still a little apprehensive. Even though the process of introducing a caged queen is pretty textbook, I don't think you can always be 100% certain that everything will always work out. But when I opened the hive and took the cage out, it was empty. The good news was that she and her attendants were free of the cage. Now it would be the task of finding her to make sure she was okay. The apprehension was up a little once again!
Starting with the wall frame, I checked. No queen. I made my way from left to right, picking up each frame and checked them left to right and up and down. No queen. When I made it to frame #9 which was next to the last frame, I picked it up and there she was. There was no denying it was my new monarch. Between her young, bright yellow abdomen, and the new paint dot on her back, I knew it was my new queen. She casually made her way across the frame and didn't try to dodge the light as many queens do. So I gently put the frame back to make sure she wouldn't get hurt and so she could go back to work. She had apparently already started. I found new eggs on a couple of the frames, so I knew she had already been to work. By the way, that's her on the right. Isn't she a beauty?
I also found a closed swarm cell on the bottom of one of the frames. Not wanting to risk it hatching and upsetting the new set-up, I cut it off and decided to open it. Inside was a developing pupa, but it appeared to be dehydrated. I am now wondering if the queen-to-be may have been killed by the old queen, a competing virgin queen, or possibly killed by my new queen. Or maybe she died of natural causes. I guess we'll never know.
And the frames of eggs and brood that I moved to the orange hive before I introduced the new queen are doing fine. When I examined things, I could see small, curvy larvae developing in the bottom of the cells. Apparently the bees that were left in the hive have been tending to things pretty well overall. So I added the second deep body and ten new frames and closed everything back up. I also added a feeder so the girls can draw comb. I'll check it again in a week to see how the progress is going.
I am very confident the new queen will save this colony. To be honest, I probably could have moved eggs over and hoped the bees would take the initiative to raise their own queen. But it seemed a little "iffy" since things had changed dramatically in a month's time. With the population low and no brood, I just didn't want to chance it. And with the new queen being raised locally, I'm sure she'll do just fine here.
More updates coming!