Friday, July 26, 2013

Opening the Brood Nest & Emerging Worker Bee

This post is a bit late because the day after the inspection (Thursday, July 18, 2013), I went on vacation and didn't have a good wi-fi connection.

When I inspected the last few bars of the hive on Sunday, there was a whole bar of drone brood. Since then, I've been peeking through the observation window, and I've noticed tons of new queen cups.

I've had this antsy feeling for a while, but especially since Sunday, that my girls are making swarm preparations. I know that swarming is really a good thing. It means the hive is healthy and productive, but I just got them.

It's been wicked hot (in the 90's) all week and since just opened the hive 5 days ago, I don't particularly want to go in again. On the other hand, I'm going on a short vacation this weekend, and in the event that the hive is thinking of splitting, I also don't want to come home to some queen cells. What to do? In the end, I decided to take a look around, though I waited until 6:00pm when the weather was only brutally hot instead of hellish.

Seems like the girls agree that it's hot

What I found inside was a hive that was packed to the gills with with brood. There were two bars of almost solid drone comb and lots and lots of worker brood. I saw all stages of larvae, but I didn't notice any eggs. Either I just didn't see them without my glasses and because of sweat dripping into my eyes, or maybe the queen had stopped laying because there wasn't a whole lot of space left. 

There was very little stored honey (even less capped honey), except scattered among the brood and at the top of the bars. Nearly every bar was crammed with brood. So I don't know what they've done with all the uncapped honey that was toward the front of the nest when I inspected that area about 3 weeks ago.

I don't know if I did the right thing, but I added four empty bars between a few of the drawn ones to give them some space and something to do in there. I got this idea from Michael Bush's notes on opening the brood nest. If they're feeling swarmy, hopefully, this will squash that urge a bit.

You know, I still haven't found my elusive queen. On the other hand, I had a real treat today as I got to watch a worker emerging from her cell. Wonders never cease in the beeyard.

See her little head poking through?

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