My little bee brain is buzzing with information overload.
Today’s hive inspections brought plenty of good news but also a wild cornucopia of new bee experiences. I think I need a drink.
But first, here’s what went down:
- We found queens and eggs in the Ann Hive and the Polski hive. Yay!
- At least 10 capped swarm cells awaited us in the Kerry Hive.
- It was impossible not to hear the high-pitched squawk of a virgin queen in the Kerry Hive which we tracked down and photographed.
- We removed 7 bars of brood and resources from the Kerry Hive and gave some queen cells to a local beekeeper in need.
- The extra swarm cells we dissected.
- Opening some drone cells, we found varroa mites on drone pupae.
- We saw a birthing bee.
Photos and details follow. Whew! Who knew one afternoon in the life of a beekeeper could be so fascinating.
Finding the Queen
Eight days ago, we installed two new packages from B. Weaver into the Ann Hive and the Polski Hive. After three days, we checked and the queen was free but we were unable to find her or any fresh eggs.
Had the saucy dames killed their queens?
Worry and doubt set in. Four cold and rainy days made us downright gloomy about the prospects of our fledgling colonies. But when we checked the hives this afternoon, we saw both queen (in the Polski Hive) and eggs (in both Polski and Ann Hives).
Beekeeper bliss! Now we’re in business.
Whew! Now, with a little luck and nectar, we might have a go at 2 new colonies.
Swarm Cell Jackpot
I’ve never played the lottery, but today we won a quite questionable jackpot.
The Kerry Hive had 8 capped swarm cells and 2 capped supercedure cells. Bonus! Our hive is busting at the seams with potential queens.
Bad news, though. This means they’re cramped and about to swarm. We performed immediate surgery and did the following:
- Gave 2 bars of brood with queen cells to Sheila, a queenless beekeeper down in the North Valley
- Pulled 1 bar of brood for the Ann Hive
- Pulled 3 bars of resources for both Ann & Polski Hives
- Harvested 1 bar of honey and brood (we dissected the brood and swarm cells. More on that in a few…)
Time will tell if our drastic last-minute measures work. Regardless, it was only part of our Saturday afternoon drama…
The Virgin Queen Piping
About 3 bars into the Kerry Hive, we heard a high-pitched squawking. Like pulses of meep-meep-meep emanating from a pair of vibrating bee wings.
It was a virgin queen.
She looked like a queen. She sounded like a queen. But something wasn’t quite right.
Her abdomen wasn’t quite long enough… She had no attendees… And, oddly, she was dipping her ovipositor into honey cells at the top of the comb.
Should we have killed her, this brazen threat to the ruling queen? We’re not sure, but the hive contained plenty of eggs, larvae, and capped worker brood. Someone is doing their job inside the Kerry Hive which means there are likely two queens now, one inseminated and one loud and squawking.
Someone will emerge the victress.
One of the bars we pulled from the Kerry Hive contained 3 swarm cells and plenty of useless drone brood. Having spotted a few varroa mites last week, we decided to pull this bar and conduct some good old-fashioned learning.
Here’s what we saw…
In less grotesque news, we also witnessed the hatching of a fuzzy new worker bee which we carried gently to the hive. It waddled into the safety of the dark and humming chamber to begin a new life in our corner of Albuquerque.