Much has happened in the beeyard since last I blogged. And given how quickly things have changed since I started this venture, I figure I'd better hurry up and catch the blog up to date before something else happens.
Last time I posted, it was 2 weeks post-swarms and both the original hives (blue and green) were queenless. Not only that, but the number of bees in the blue hive had dropped noticeably. I posted a message on the ABA website asking if anyone had queens, but wasn't too optimistic that I'd find any at the end of April. Luckily Bob Livingston, a beekeeper who lives just a mile or two down the road from me, had some that were mated and ready to go!
Bob showed up Tuesday morning with 2 Italian/Carniolan mix queens and showed me how to install them. But first, he very patiently helped search through each frame of both hives to make sure that both actually were without queens. This was one time I was really hoping that I was dead wrong, and that he'd tell me I just hadn't learned how to spot a queen yet. Unfortunately, not only were both boxes queenless, but there were also no signs of eggs or even larvae in either one. There were still plenty of bees in the green box (although nothing was happening in the honey super yet). But the number of bees in the blue box had dropped noticeably and there were large areas of empty cells in all the frames. Both boxes had a pretty good store of both honey and pollen in the lower hives. Given the low number of bees, we decided to remove the super from the blue box for now.
There were a few queen cells in the green box. Since they hadn't yet hatched I could have put a cell or two into the blue box and waited for both colonies to raise their own. I decided instead to go with Bob's already-mated queens - just to give the bees a chance to get back up to speed a little faster. With more experience under my belt I probably would have let nature take its course - or even taken the queen cells and tried raising my own. Another project for another day!
As of now, the new queens have been in the blue and green hives for 5 days and, hopefully, have been released and accepted by their workers. I'm planning to open up both hives on Tuesday just to be sure and, if all goes well, will be able to return the honey super to the blue hive in just a few weeks.
I'll update again next week, and hope to be able to report that both queens have been accepted and have started laying eggs. Stay tuned . . . .
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