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!

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