Thursday, April 30, 2015

Making Space

(Note: Meant to post this yesterday, but forgot. Oh, the distractions of motherhood!)

Due to some out of town travel, I had to postpone shipment of my packages from April 15 to April 30. In preparation for that, I did a quick check on Austeja on Sunday to see if/what I could pull from it for the packages. At the same time, I made a bit more space for her by adding some empty bars at the front of the hive and after the drone comb. Post-inspection, the comb was arranged a bit like this:
End entrance is to the left of this diagram.
Diagram is not to scale. The brood nest is much wider than it would appear.

I figured that would give them enough space for another week. That's why I was so surprised to open the observation window this morning and see quite a few queen cups (maybe 6-10) on the side of a couple combs. It's always hard to know if the queen cups are just for practice or if they're a sign of getting ready to swarm. However, just in case, I performed a quick inspection this morning.

A couple of queen cups
I didn't see any eggs or larvae in the queen cups, but I'll admit that it's sometimes difficult for my middle-aged eyes to spot them when they're super tiny. All the previously empty bars up to the capped honey were built out already, and the bees were were making more drone comb. Also, it appears that the third bar from the entrance was being filled with honey. I haven't decided if they're backfilling or just backward, but I'm not taking chances. It's always amazing to me, though, just how much work the bees can do in 3 days if they have resources.

Mostly drone comb with some worker brood to the right.

I added a couple more empty bars before and after the brood nest. I also opened the brood nest with a couple of empty bars between bars brood. Hopefully, I've done this in time to suppress swarming. The forecast is predicting that we're going to skip right over spring and rush into summer with temps in the 80's next week, so that helps ease concerns about the brood chilling.

Dandelions are starting to open now. Magnolia in full bloom.

As it turns out, I received a call on Monday to say that due to weather issues in the south, my shipment has been delayed until May 6. I'll be checking the observation window daily over the next few days for any sign that the bees are frosting those queen cups. However, if they do get capped, I suppose that could work out to my favor, too. I've been planning to requeen the packages in June or July. However, if I end up with swarm cells, I could install them with the packages at the outset and wouldn't need to bother ordering any queens. Hey, that gives me an idea...


  1. Sounds like Austeja is doing well and that they are building up well. Last year when I found queen cups, I freaked out about the colony being about to swarm. But week after week, they just stayed as cups. This year I started to freak out, but when I only found cups, I relaxed. I was going to do a split, but since there was nothing in the cups (that these late-middle-aged eyes could see), I decided not to. Today, I looked through the window and it looked like they were making the cups into larger queen cells, so I'll go back in again and check to make sure there are no eggs in them. If there are, I'll make a split.

    I also opened up the brood and hive in general - pretty much what you have above so I think that gives me a little time. I've got lots of bees - more than I've ever had at any time of the year. I put a new package in BnB1 last weekend - hopefully I can find time to make a post soon about that. And I've got another package coming this weekend. I have one hive finished for that, but I still need to finish another for the split. It is the busy time of the year for beekeepers!

    Dandelions are waning here. I should have irises blooming this weekend (sorry to brag). We had a big rain last week which really set things in motion and another forecasted for next week. Went to a talk by Kim Flottum last night and he said they still had snow in places in Ohio! It must feel good to have the earth blooming again after the horrible winter you've had!

    1. Cups don't normally worry me, but seeing them in combination with nectar toward the front of the hive and lots of drone comb -- that's what's keeping me up at night. ;-)

      Sounds like your girls are booming! So excited for you! Definitely sounds like you'll be able to make a split!

      Looking forward to hearing about your packages and irises. (I'm just happy with dandelions, btw. My daughter is having a birthday party this weekend, and I'm just delighted that it'll be warm outside so that I won't have 20 preschoolers running around inside the house!)

      Bet that talk by Kim Flottum must have been fascinating! Hope you'll write a post on that, too!


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