Monday, July 14, 2014

Inspection Notes: Three Queens

This has been a crazy busy summer. Because of all the swarm cell action I've been having, I had meant to put out a new KTBH and do an inspection by Wednesday last week. Instead, my newest KTBH didn't get set out until about 2:30 Saturday afternoon (and she still doesn't have a proper roof.) Then we had to get ready for a wedding, so the inspection waited until yesterday. Sigh.

Yesterday turned out to be a lovely day for a look-see into the hives. It was warm, but the sky was a bit overcast. Although that made it too difficult for me to see whether there were any eggs, it was nice not broiling for a change. Also, I had to work as quickly as possible because it did feel like rain was coming (though happily the rain waited until after I was done.)

Her numbers seemed a lot lower to me. Can't tell if that's because she hasn't had much new brood for a while, if it's because she's had so many bars and bees taken out of her for the other nucs, or if it's because she's swarmed.

I did find a queen, though. I'm hoping this is a new queen and that I got the old one when I made a split into Peach. I really don't know, though, for sure.

Her Royal Highness
In any case, it appears that a number of the queen cells had been opened, though there were still a few remaining as well. What the heck does that mean???

Opened and unopened queen cells
There was a lot of nectar stored in the combs, but I didn't see any new comb building. Also, I didn't find the queen, which was weird given that I looked twice, and all the queen cells had been broken down. Not quite sure what to make of that. Dare I hope that her majesty was out on a mating flight?

You can see where some queen cells used to be on that lump.

Princess Bubblegum is the nuc I split out last week. She seems to be doing quite well. She's started building new comb and filling it with nectar. She also has a queen! As I said, it was too overcast for me to tell if there were eggs, but I really didn't notice any in any of the hives yesterday.

Tiny bit of new comb

Her Majesty

As an aside to these inspection notes, while we were at the wedding on Saturday, we were introduced to a couple that had traveled all the way from Lithuania to attend. My husband casually mentioned, "My wife has a bee hive with a Lithuanian name. Austeja." They were so shocked to discover that anyone would choose a Lithuanian name or even knew about a Lithuanian bee goddess or their love of honey, and that sparked a wonderful new friendship for us. Ah, you can always count on bees for making friends.

Anyway, I had been crossing my fingers that the few queen cells I had found last week were merely supersedure cells. Turns out that this week, I had 8 bars of swarm cells. Dagnabit. I just can't catch a break.

Additionally, it appeared that there were about half the number of bees in there this week. I know the brood laying has tapered off significantly in that hive over the last couple of weeks, but half??? I suspect they swarmed before I could put out my Warre bait hive. Or maybe they just didn't like that hive.

On the other hand, I did find the queen. I also got to experience a very cool thing -- she was piping. She reminds me of an oboe. Hopefully, it's not too disrespectful to think that of a monarch.

My ruthless ruler
I left 3 bars with queen cells in that hive since she appeared to be making short work of her competition. However, I moved 5 bars with queen cells to my newest hive.

Sadly, I didn't take any pictures of her. However, I simply moved 8 bars of queen cells, brood, pollen and honey into her. Left some thin syrup and closed her up. I was out of jars, but I'll scrounge up a few more today and add some water as well.


  1. Impressive, as always! It must be thrilling to have queens that were hatched in your very own hives. Beauties, all.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it's definitely a thrill! If I'm 100% honest with myself, though, I'm just delighted I didn't kill them all! :-)

  2. Sounds like they swarmed. I've been dealing with some swarms recently. One of my colonies swarmed less than a week ago. I checked it a couple days later and found swarms cells everywhere and at least one swarm cell that was open --- the virgin queen had emerged AND I spotted her. But she wasn't a full-sized queen yet. Apparently they don't get really big until they begin laying. So you might have a virgin queen or a just-mated queen that isn't big enough to really notice yet. I checked the same hive again today and notice that some of the swarms cells were still intact, which leads me think, maybe, perhaps, it takes a few days for the first queen to kill all the other queens. This is my third consecutive summer with swarms --- and I'm stilling learning the hard way.

    1. Thanks, Philip, for that insight into swarming. I've always been a little unsure about the timing of a swarm -- whether they swarm and then cap the swarm cells, or if they cap the cells and then swarm. However, it sounds like you're describing the former case. I guess, I need to just start keeping bait hives on hand pretty much all the time as insurance. Thanks for clarifying that.

      Also, that's a good point about the virgin/just-mated queens being smaller. Maybe that was it. Last week, though, I still wasn't able to find the queen in that hive, but I did see some larvae and eggs, so my fingers are crossed that all is well.


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