Midweek, I decided to buy queens for two of my hives that have gone queen-less Two weeks with no eggs or larva was my inspiration. I had added a frame with eggs and a queen cup or two into one of them when I first discovered the issue but lost my nerve when that didn’t appear to be working. The other hive caught me off guard so I had not added any eggs or queen cells to it. As can be the case, this week’s queen shipment was delayed so I was not able to bail my hives out with expensive purchased queens.
Today I looked into the one hive that had received queen cups and found that I had been too impatient in that now there is eggs and hopefully things are coming back into balance. The other hive is completely without evidence of a queen so I opened a strong hive, pulled a frame and there were four ripe queen cells. A quick frame swap and we shall see. The lesson I lean once again is not to underestimate the ability of the bees to resolve their problems. All it takes is a little faith on my part and a frame from a sister hive.
Now I can worry about the strong hive that had queen cells. Time for a split!
Queen cells are abundant in two or three hives. These hives also have very good bee cover so splits were made last week. Swarms may also happen but at least there will be some hives created from the queen cells. The two hive used to make splits have lower amounts of brood now and no eggs were seen – could the queen have been moved into a split? Ripe queen cells are available so the set back should be short lived and cooler weather has somewhat delayed the nectar flow. Maybe I’ll get a break and produce honey from them.
All hives from last year are now 4 – 6 medium supers. The bees have drawn out comb on the frames of foundation that were added about two weeks ago. Two hives got a super of foundation each yesterday because frames were filling up with brood, pollen and honey. Time to setup more frames and supers.
The bee yard is busy!
The solution to the failed package queen problem was to buy two queens and re-queen both packages. Doing so makes packages as costly as Nucs plus the extra effort of finding new queens.
Packages this year have offered some real challenges to the area’s beekeepers. Basically the queens have been failing at a higher than normal rate. I have been working with one beekeeper that has two new hives from packages. The hives started on foundation. One queen looked normal but did not lay (not mated?) and one queen was dead on arrival. The one hive with the not mated queen was given a new queen from a reliable source mid week which should resolve that hive’s queen problem. At the time, there is not a second queen available.
The non laying queen was caged and moved into the hive with no queen because there was the beginning of laying workers and the hope was that the queen’s pheromones would inhibit the laying worker while a solution was found.
Today a very small NUC with a queen and a bit of brood was added to the laying worker hive using the standard newspaper separator process. The hope is that the queen and brood pheromones and her attendant workers will be strong enough to overcome the laying worker’s pheromones and the hive will accept the new queen.
It is a grand experiment and may fail but that is the fun of beekeeping. I’ll post the results which should be known by next weekend.
Spring arrived at the bee yard last week with 70° days and flowers blooming everywhere. Most hives now have several frames of capped brood and additional frames with lots of larval and eggs. I’ve heard that a frame of brood can produce 3,000 bees so the hive numbers can jump very fast this time of year. I have lots of space for bees, brood, pollen and nectar so bring on the bees! My hives are now four medium supers minimum and some are five. I added foundation mixed with comb to give the wax production a place to go and will carefully watch for signs of swarm preparation.
Mite drop boards and drone brood checks indicated some mite problems so treatment is ongoing for the hives with mite issues. So far the bees are doing well.
Yesterday and today were perfect for bees and blooms. Checked for brood and brood pattern in all my hives. Some are doing better that others but so far no major issues. There were the beginnings of queen cells being built in several of the stronger hives. The plan is to split off the queen cells and produce 5 frame hives.
I inserted mite drop boards yesterday and checked today for a 24 hour mite drop count. All hives had mites on the board. I’ll probably treat with formic acid strips so that the hives will be clear of treatment before nectar flow gets strong. I expect nectar flow will start in two weeks and the strips are a one week treatment. All hive are 4 medium supers with plenty of empty comb available and the honey frames alternating with empty comb.
I also added a super of foundation to two of the strongest hives. All the existing frames were covered with bee. This year I plan to give them a lot of space and see if that helps slow down swarming.