Another Lost Queen

It’s June 10th and it’s only been six days since I checked in on the colony. I wanted to check them so soon again though to see how the queen situation is coming along. Since I didn’t see her or any evidence of her, I am concerned about them If she is no longer in the hive, I hope that they are using the brood that I gave them to make another queen.

The weather is great today, seventy six degrees and sunny. I spent some time watching the foragers before I opened the hive. They are still acting like everything is normal and they are bringing in pollen. The main give away is that they are so grouchy all the time. They get up into my face even before I open the hive up. I am glad that I am fully suited before I even get near the hive.

Once I got into the hive, it was obvious that things are not right. They are not building any new comb and at this point they don’t seem to be making an emergency replacement queen from the bar of brood that I put in. I did not find the queen again this time, so now I know she is gone. The number of bees is getting smaller. That will change a little when the capped brood from the bar hatch, but things won’t get better if they do not replace the queen.

After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided not to requeen the hive. I have already given them two queens and a bar of brood to work with and they have chosen not to for some reason. Now it is just a matter of waiting to see what happens. It seems that they should have already started to make an emergency queen, but maybe they still will. It will be there only hope for survival.

Finally the Sun is Out!

It’s June 4th and the sun is finally shining here! With the weather being so nice, I thought I would stop by the hives again and see what they are up to. Today I started at the Orchard Hive, since they have been so wonderful to work with. I also did not need to do a full inspection of them since I was here about a week ago.

They are doing very well. The colony is growing nicely and they are so sweet. Working with them is such a pleasure. They seem to be filling up the hive quickly so I gave them three more empty bars to build on. I stole one beautiful bar filled with brood at all stages to give to the Willow Hive. Since the queen in this hive is laying so nicely, I don’t think they will mind too much. It was actually very easy to convince the bees to come off of the comb. I used some of the fern leaves from the plants around the hive and gently brushed them off.

On this visit I did not see the queen, but there is plenty of evidence that she is there. There was a lot of brood at all stages and the colony was so calm. Those things are good enough for me, I don’t actually have to see her to know that she is there. I often do see the queens and I have gotten quite good at spotting them, but it is not always the case.

Now it’s time to tighten my gear and make sure that I am fully protected from the angry bees of the Willow Hive. Even before I opened the window they were in my face. The ants had moved out of the window area, so that was nice to see. When I opened the lid up there were the wasps again. I waited for them to fly away and then I scraped their little nests off of the lid. Then I found the ants, they had placed their eggs in between some of the bars. Ugh!

This hive is really taking me for a ride this season. I went through the hive twice today and did not find the queen. There is no new brood and the colony size is dwindling. I added the bar of brood from the Orchard Hive into the Willow Hive and I gave them a empty bar with drawn comb. The comb that they have is filling up with pollen and nectar and they don’t see to be building new comb. Honey bees are best at making wax between days twelve and eighteen of life and with the shrinking colony there are less and less bees at this stage.

Adding the bar full of brood now seems to be the only hope for this colony, unless the queen was hiding from me today. I will be checking in on them again soon to see how they are doing and if the queen is there or they are making a new one. This season is going to keep me on my toes.

Cold, Wet, and Cloudy Spring

This spring has been very wet and cold. There has been so much rain and almost constant cloud cover. The benefit of this has been that we are no longer in a drought, but the downside is that inspecting beehives in this weather is a challenge. The bees really don’t like when I open up their home in cloudy, cool weather. It seems like it has been raining everyday and I am sure that the bees sense that the rain is going to pour into their house.

Today is like all of the others, cool and cloudy. It looks like it might rain, but I am hoping it will hold out until I am done checking in on the bees. Since the Willow Hive is having issues, I decided to start there. That way if I can only get to one hive, it will be the Willow. Before I could even check on the bees, I had to deal with the wasps that have decided they really want to live in the hive lid. They seem to be determined to build here even though I remove their nests each time. Hopefully they will get it soon that they are not wanted here.

It has only been five days since the new queen was released into the hive. I did a little research and found that the new queen will typically start laying eggs within seven to fourteen days after her release. This new queen is not laying eggs yet, hopefully it will not be long before she does. She looks well and the colony has accepted her.

The hive has plenty of capped honey, nectar, and pollen. Now I just need to make sure that they do not become nectar bound like last year. I need to watch and make sure that the queen has room to continue to lay eggs. Avoiding late season swarms is a big goal of mine this year. I added two empty bars for them to build on.

The colony is still very grumpy. I was hoping that once they had a new queen they would feel better, but maybe they want new brood too. It’s just not as fun to work with angry bees. The bad weather doesn’t help either. The sun has to come out at some point!

I came back to the farm two days later to check in on the Orchard Hive. The weather is still not good for beekeeping. My plan is to do a quick check and give them a couple of bars. They are growing very well and the colony looks great. I only checked five of the nineteen bars since it is pretty windy.

I was able to find the queen, but I did not take the comb that she was on all the way out of the hive. There was a gust of wind and I didn’t want the comb to snap off of the bar. I found everything that I needed to see and I added two empty bars for them. I am feeling good about the Orchard Hive and how they are doing. The bees were calm even with the yucky weather. It is so nice to visit this colony, they help me to feel so much better about beekeeping.

Beginning of a wasps nest
This interesting bug greeted me from the top of the Willow Hive (on the outside)

Queenless

It’s the 20th of May and we are finally having some really nice weather. Today it is 70 degrees and sunny! I stopped at the Orchard Hive first and spent some time watching the bees coming in from foraging. These foragers were bringing in lots of pollen and there was quite a bit of traffic in the doorway. Since this colony is growing well and seems healthy I removed the entrance reducer to help relieve some of the traffic.

I opened the observation window and there was a large colony of any nesting there. The hive is surrounded by ferns, so I picked some and gently brushed the ants off of the window. Then I put peppermint essential oil on the window door to deter the ants. The ants are just a nuisance for me, as long as they stay out of the hive the bees do not care that they are there.

The Orchard Hive is on twelve bars right now and eleven of them have comb. I opened up the hive and the bees were so calm. A few of them came to greet me, but they were not upset and they were very gentle. I really enjoy the buzz of a happy colony. I am sure they are as thrilled as I am about the weather today!

The queen is laying a very nice brood pattern and this colony is growing well. I was able to find the queen easily today. There are eight bars with capped brood on them. Most of them are worker brood, but there is also drone brood. There was uncapped larvae and eggs too.

They have nectar on almost every bar and a good amount of capped honey. They had pollen stored on four bars. I added two more empty bars for them to continue growing. The colony is growing nicely and everything is looking great. I closed up the hive and headed over to the Willow Hive.

When I got to the hive, I looked around at the front to see how they were looking. There were some foragers coming and going, but not as many as at the Orchard Hive. Next, I looked in the window and saw that the colony seems to be growing a little. They are not growing as quickly as the other colony.

Once I got into the hive and began looking around, I realized that the queen was not there. I know that they were hoping to replace her, but it looks like she was only able to lay unfertilized or drone eggs. Now the colony has some brood in it, but it is all drone brood. The colony has plenty of pollen, nectar, and capped honey.

These bees were very grumpy today, even with the nice weather. That is one more signal that the colony is queenless. I decided that I would requeen the hive, but it would have to wait until tomorrow when I can get a queen. I closed up the hive and spent some time pulling poison ivy that is around the hive. I wasn’t able to get all of it, there is a lot. The bees were also very upset with me and letting me know it by slamming themselves into the suit. When I got enough of the poison ivy pulled out I left the bees alone.

The next morning I went to buy a new queen to put in the hive. When we got to the hive I opened it up, shooed out the wasps again, and removed the bar that I wanted to hang the queen cage on. I chose a bar that had a tiny piece of comb on it. I removed the cork from the candy end of the cage and hung it on the bar.

The bees seemed interested in her and were checking her out. Hopefully they will fully accept her and things will go well. The weather is not looking agreeable in three days, so I will come back in two days to check on their progress with the candy. This was a quick hive opening and I am very glad that it was because the bees are so cranky.

On May 23rd I went back to the Willow Hive to check in on the queen. Again I was greeted by wasps and angry bees. I opened the hive took out the bar with the queen cage on it and looked to see if she was still in there. I had to blow on the bees that were on the queen cage to get them to move and I saw her still in there. I then looked at the candy and it looked like it had barely been touched. Of course, this is hard to say for sure, but I decided that I would remove the cork on the top of the cage and put the bar back into the hive.

The next several days we are looking at rain and clouds so I needed to just take care of this today. I left the queen in the cage and just put everything back the way that it was. Now if they don’t let her out quickly enough, she can climb out the other end if she figures it out. We will see how things go. I will come back soon to check in on them, I just need to wait until Mother Nature lets me.

New Queen
Queen Cup
They found her!