Queen Cups

It was time again to check on the hives at Old Frog Pond Farm. They have been growing quickly and I need to check to see if they needs more empty bars again. The weather is warming up quite a bit and we are having some hot days. I like to check on the bees when the temperatures are in the 70’s if I can. Wearing that bee suit in hot weather is not very fun.

I started with the Orchard hive, mostly because I was curious about the status of the ants. The ants were no longer nesting between the window and the door of the window. There were some ants crawling on the hive, but that was it. The observation window door still smelled of peppermint and there is still some cinnamon there as well as in the hive.

The bees have been living on 20 bars and they have filled them. They are growing quickly and seem very happy. This colony is so docile and inviting. Everything looked very good in the hive. They had a good amount of brood, pollen, nectar, and honey. As I got further into the hive, I saw queen cups. Not just one or two, but six. The cups were empty at this point. This was a surprise for me. Last year, I did not find queen cups in either of my hives.

The most difficult part of inspecting this hive was getting the bees to go back into the hive. They all just sat up near the top of the bars looking at me. I tried gently rocking the bars back in and gently blowing on the bees to get them to go back in, but those things were not woking. The bees just wanted to hang out. I used the bee brush a little to gently persuade them to get back inside, but I did not brush them. I just nudged them a little.

Once everyone was back inside, I was able to close up the hive. It took a long time to inspect this hive due to the bees not wanting to go back in. I don’t mind taking the time, it makes the inspection much better when I do not feel rushed or try to rush the bees. They can sense when I am in a hurry and they don’t like it. I don’t like when they are unhappy, so I do what I can to try to keep them happy.

Next it was time to inspect the Willow hive. The last time I was out there was poison ivy around the hive that I had to climb over to get to it. There was also poison ivy at the base of the legs. I spoke to the people at Old Frog Pond Farm and asked them to take care of it. When I got there this time, they had covered most of it up and made a path for me to be able to get to the hive. There was still a little bit near the legs of the hive though.

This colony is also living on 20 bars and they have filled it up. During the inspection I added 4 more empty bars to give them more room to grow. Looking through the hive, everything looks very good. They had a lot of pollen stored up, more than any of my other hives have. They also had a lot of queen cups! Eleven queen cups. All of them were empty still. The queen is doing really well laying. There was a lot of brood in the hive. They also have plenty of nectar and capped honey. This colony is looking really good.

The bees in the Willow hive were also more docile than the ones in the Orchard hive. I did not think that was possible. They were so easy to work with and they even went back into the hive without much direction from me. This was such an easy inspection and I really enjoyed the temperament of the bees.

The biggest surprise to me during these inspections was all of the queen cups that I found. This was not something that I found last year and I don’t know what to make of it. I am really hoping that the bees are just being prepared for whatever may happen. I know that swarming is a healthy and natural reproductive behavior, I just don’t want to see them swarm at this point. I am not sure what that would mean for the colony for the winter.

I am very curious what I will find the next time I inspect the hives. I hope that the bees are as happy and as easy to work with. I also hope that the queen cups are still empty.

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