Monday, April 26, 2010

Queenless in Tallahassee

This weekend marked the 2-week point after my swarms, so it was time to take a peek inside and see what was happening. I checked both blue and green hives last weekend and saw no queens, but did see larvae in each hive so I thought that things were probably going well. But a lot can change in just one week.

Saturday was so windy I couldn't even get the smoker lit. Then Sunday morning we had a monsoon, and by the time it cleared up in the afternoon it was windy again. So . . . this morning I waited until about 10am, suited up, lit the smoker and went visiting.

Blue box was the one I was most concerned about, since this was the one that I was certain had swarmed, and since I saw no queen last weekend. I'm still new at all this and will be the first to admit that I am having major problems finding queens - even though I've started wearing my reading glasses when I open the hives. But today I was 99% sure there was no queen in the hive. I saw plenty of honey, pollen, and nectar, but no eggs or larvae in any stage. To add to it, the girls were downright testy - which is one of the signs of a queenless hive. Up to this point I've barely needed to use smoke at all. But today I was puffing it everywhere and they were flying all around me. Obviously, they did not appreciate my visit. The green box was, sadly, in almost the same state. No signs of a queen or her handiwork.

I went inside and called David, my bee mentor, to get his opinion on the matter. He first helped me calm down, then suggested that I either: 1) take a frame of eggs from the new, yellow box (the captured swarm) and put it into one of the queenless hives, thus allowing the girls to produce a new queen on their own; 2) combine one of the queenless hives with the yellow box, using the newspaper method; or 3) buy new queens. He ever-so-patiently walked me through the steps of each option, but by the time I hung up the phone my head was literally spinning with details.

As if my brain wasn't boggled enough, I spoke with Bob Jackson after dinner, who had a completely different slant to the whole thing. Bob seemed to think that I should wait a bit longer and see if I don't have virgin queens in both hives who just aren't laying eggs yet. But - he also agreed with David's suggestions, and said that all options were viable. He also reminded me that bees DO NOT read the beekeeping manuals, and tend to do whatever they happen to feel like doing at the moment! Listening to Bob on the phone reminded me of something I keep hearing about beekeeping: ask 5 beekeepers the same question and you'll get at least 6 different answers!!

After thinking about it all afternoon, I decided this evening to ask around and see if anyone has any queens for sale. This is, most definitely, the easiest approach to my double problem, requiring the least amount of skill and luck. But at this stage in my life as a beekeeper, I'm thinking that easy sounds pretty good. Luckily, one of my inquiries paid off and tonight I got an email from David L., who lives just 2 miles down the road. He's got queens for sale and will have two ready for me tomorrow! Yipee!!

So . . . stay tuned for my next new adventure: requeening the hive.

1 comment:

  1. am loving this bee drama and realize I need to know more of what is going on.