Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Split for Peach

I'd already formulated a plan to requeen my package colonies. My daughter loves that Disney show Special Agent Oso in which all tasks are broken down into three special steps. It's a surprisingly helpful formula, so that's what I'd done, too.

  • Step 1: June 14, add some bars to Austeja and let her draw some fresh comb and lay eggs. 
  • Step 2: Move freshly drawn comb and eggs (along with bees, capped brood, and stores) over to a nuc to be turned into queen cells. 
  • Step 3. About 2 weeks later (to give me some wiggle-room timewise), pinch package queens and move capped queen cells over to package colonies. 

Easy peasy. Unfortunately, Austeja had other plans.

Today, all the comb near the entrance was backfilled with nectar and pollen. I suppose I wasn't really surprised because I could smell her honey all the way from my back door. I also found 4 bars with queen cups and stick eggs. Ah, here we go again... They must have been freshly laid today because they were still standing straight up. Guess they're queen cells now.

I'm not the only one who can smell honey in my yard.

I went through that whole hive bar by bar, but for the life of me, I couldn't find her queen. All the bars with queen cells got moved to Peach along with some capped brood and a few bars of honey. They (Peach's girls) were way madder than Austeja, so I'm hopeful the queen is still in the hive. In any case, I left her some eggs as well.

Backfilled comb. Classic sign of swarm prep.

As I started closing up Austeja, it began to rain, and at that point everyone got ticked off. I consider myself blessed to have been stung only twice. For the record, closing a hive in the rain with numb, swollen fingertips is not an experience I'd like to repeat.

Of course, now my plans are all screwy again. I could stick to the original plan, but that would give the packages only about 3 brood cycles before getting a virgin queen instead of the 5 or 6 I'd planned. I hate to set them back again so soon.

The alternative, I suppose is that I can split the queen cells up again and raise two nucs. The queens could emerge, mate, start laying, and then I could use them to replace the package queens at leisure. I could even combine the colonies to give them more of a jump.

Leave it to the bees to completely derail me.


  1. The best laid plans..... ;-) I think your alternative plan sounds good if you still wnt to requeen the packages.

    What is Austeja's lineage? Was she a locally raised queen originally or did she come from an out of area package? If the latter, I'm wondering if you can't take your chances with at least one of the packages. Survivor queens have to come from somewhere!

    I'm planning on splitting BnB2 this weekend on Sunday and I'm hoping they don't swarm before then. Queen cups are looking more like queen cells through the window, but none capped yet. But then again, my best laid plans might get thwarted like yours.

    1. Austeja's mama came from Sam Comfort, and she was raised in NY from overwintered stock. Actually, think I asked for an old queen, so she would've overwintered herself. Austeja's current queen is one that I raised myself last year, and has survived a truly harsh winter, so I'm very happy with her.

      However, I have a spare nuc and can knock another one together quickly, so instead of pinching the package queens, I may install them in the nucs with a couple bars as backup. And if they survive the winter, that would be great, too. One can never have enough bees!

      Good luck splitting BnB2! How exciting! My favorite part is when they emerges and start piping, but the wait for new eggs is harrowing! :-) Have fun!


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