Saturday, June 11, 2016

Queens Galore

The flowers this spring have not been anywhere near as spectacular as in years past. The protracted rainy, cold weather killed a lot of the earlier spring buds/flowers. Then we had a wicked heat wave, going from 50 F to 90 F overnight for a couple of weeks. More rain, and now finally some nice weather.

The white clover, which marks the end of my spring flow, normally blooms from about mid-June to mid-July. This year, it started about 2 weeks ago. The bees take this in stride, though, and continue to do their thing.

Looking very nice, girls!

Here's a quick rundown of the hives/nucs by those that have queens and those in the process of making them.

Queen-right Colonies

John's nuc: looking good with 6 enormous bars of bees. He's going to pick up in the morning, which will give me some much needed space in the bee yard.

Bubblegum: I made this split from Persephone about May 19, and this nuc is now completely full. Sigh.

Ladies in Waiting 1 & 2: the "ladies in waiting" (LIW) haven't got names because they're going to someone else soon. 

  • LIW 1 is a major disappointment. The queen came from Peach (May 19), which has consistently been one of my best queen and was going like gangbusters before I moved her. Now she just does not want to build anything, and I don't know why. I shook 3 bars of nurse bees from Bubblegum into her. We'll see what happens.
  • I made LIW 2 during the last inspection May 27. The queen in it came from Buttercup, and she's doing marvelously. She started with four bars and currently has seven. Unfortunately, one of the combs fell and had to be repaired. Otherwise I would've called to have it picked up this coming week.

Hippolyte: Her queen has emerged, and there were two bars with eggs/very new larvae. My guess is that she just started laying within the last five days. I dislike those bees so much that I'm not sure I even want to give this new queen much of a chance. If I'd found her today, I would have pinched her and placed a bar of queen cells from Buttercup in her. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow -- or whenever Elsa is ready to swarm. Another option is to just pinch the queen and combine her with Bubblegum. Hmmm... The more I think about doing a combine, the better I like that idea. 

Elsa: This hive is packed to the gills. She has maybe two empty bars, and that's it. However, she does not appear to have any intention of swarming. I was expecting to see lots of queen cells started, but there were none. Maybe two or three queen cups, but they were all empty. I wonder if this has to do with the fact that she is so insulated. In his book, Lazutin mentions that his insulated horizontal hives often have to be induced to swarm.

In any case, this lack of swarm cells was disappointing since I was really hoping to use some to requeen Austeja & Hippolyte and to make another nuc. 

Queenless Colonies

Persephone: All the tips of her swarm cells are open as if all the queens emerged. In other words,  none of them have been pierced through from the side, which happens when a queen stings them. There are also surprisingly few bees. I suspect she threw one or more swarms. This is the first time I've experienced a split swarming, but Don at Buddha and the Bees mentioned that his hive did just that this year.

Hard to see in this photo, but all the queen cells are open like a queen emerged.

I didn't see any brood, but she simply may not be laying yet. She should have emerged around 6/6, but it might be somewhere between the 16-21 before she lays eggs. On the plus side, she's loaded with liquid gold. 

Some wonky honey comb

Buttercup: Packed with bees, honey, and Queen cells. I expect her queen to emerge around 6/12. Removed a bar of honey to make room. 

Austeja: I made a shook swarm from her a couple weeks ago. At the time, she didn't have any swarm cells, but it just worked out to be a good time for me to make the split. Today, she had loads of capped queen cells along the edges of the comb. I cut out a bunch of the smaller ones, leaving just the biggest ones. I expect her to emerge any day now (6/12 is the date marked on my calendar).

The bees are sort of covering thing up, but there are twin queen cells on the left.

A collection of queen cells.
You can see some royal jelly in the one that is broken open

Peach: Honestly, I can't remember whether her queen emerged or not. I think she also should've had a queen by 6/6. I do remember not seeing any brood yet.

Ok, well, that's all for today. I've earned a popsicle & a shower.


  1. Wow, your girls have been busy making queens! Is Elsa full of just brood, or brood and honey? Les Crowder suggests taking honey during the flow is like deadheading flowers - it spurs them to make more! Or, maybe you need to make a 6 foot hive! ;-) I think in the future, I'll make sure to cull down to 3-4 queen cells like you did in Austeja to prevent swarming. Although, if you catch the swarm, it's all good (as long as you have equipment/room). That first picture is beautiful, I love how white the new comb and cappings are! I hope your flow keeps going, despite what the clover says!

    1. Elsa is mostly full of brood. There is some honey, but none of it is near being capped. My problem now is figuring out who has the space to ripen honey. You laugh, but I'm seriously considering some 6-foot hives!!!

  2. Did I count 7 named hives? If you build a 6 foot hive you should consider naming it Amazon.

    1. Yes, 7!!! But my numbers fluctuate a lot during the summer. That number could still go up or down. ;-)

      Amazon -- I like it!!!


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