Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Queen is Dead? Long Live the Queen!

A little over two weeks ago we obtained our first colony of bees via a route I hadn’t quite planned on. Armed with a saw, crowbars and various other pieces of equipment we extracted from the wall of a house. When we were done we were not sure whether we had gotten the queen or not. Since installing them in a Langstroth hive the bees have been coming and going, bringing in pollen which is an encouraging sign.

Yesterday we finally opened the hive for the first time to see what was really going on in there. The anticipation was killing me. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but considering how it was established, we weren’t surprised. One of the two boxes of frames had only empty cells and capped brood we presumed was dead since the bees weren’t on that comb to speak of at all. In the other box we did find nectar and honey stores, lots of workers, lots of drones, and no eggs or larvae. We also found queen cells!

The queen cells we saw were opened on the side like these two. This is the result when the first queen emerges and then goes around destroying her rivals. It means that there may be a virgin queen wandering around in the hive. The weather here has been cool and overcast for a while now. If she’s in there, Mary, or perhaps we should say Mary II should come out on a mating flight some sunny day and then eventually start laying eggs. This would be the ideal outcome of this situation since that would perpetuate the genes from the queen that had a hive survive through the winter. I’m crossing my fingers and hope to report good news before the end of May.

3 Responses:

Anita said...

How many queen cells were in there? It sounds like the queen was injured in transit or didn't get captured during the cut out.

The waiting is the hardest part. Hopefully your new queen will go on her mating flight and start laying soon.

Mil said...

Exciting! I love it when the bees make a new queen. Can't wait til you see those tiny, tiny eggs!

Shady Character said...

Anita, there were at least four queen cells that we noticed during the inspection and on the pictures I took. We're thinking since they were so obvious that we wouldn't have missed them on the cutout and that they were made after. Or I should say we're hoping that.

Mil, I can't wait either! For today, though I need to sort through the old comb and slap together a solar wax melter. It's starting to smell up the house.