5/18/09

The Queen is dead... long live the queen?

I went by the old theatre for my weekly bee check on Saturday morning, and much to my dismay, when I poked my head around the corner, my hive seemed awfully quiet for such a warm day. My first instinct was that perhaps my bees had absconded! But after a few seconds, I saw a few bees buzzing back and forth, which meant that they couldn't all be gone.

I quickly geared up and began checking to see what could be wrong.

The top box had about 6 frames of capped honey, so that was a good sign that at least my hive was in a decent place for production. But that much excess honey plus the fact that there were still a few empty frames made it clear that they probably didn't swarm. I continued on through the lower hive box to find that what few capped brood I had were all drone cells, and there were multiple eggs in some of the cells. This, of course, means: laying workers!

As you probably gathered from the title and from Kirk's last post, I figured that my queen was dead, and I don't think there were any fertilized eggs left in the frames I had. There certainly weren't any supersedure cells growing, meaning there was little chance that my bees could create a new queen with the eggs they had.

So I called up Kirk to see what I could do. He suggested that, if I were in a hurry, I could order a ready-made queen from a company, and she'd be ready to lay within a couple days. Otherwise, I could get some frames of eggs and wait about 40 days before I started getting new bees...

Well, after the horror stories of getting bees through the post, I decided to go with the latter option. I'm not in that much of a rush, and I'd rather not have my little queen enduring the indecency of being carried around in a hot leather pouch for a whole day, only to be squished and shoved into my post box. So a frame of eggs it was. Kirk said he was heading up to check on a swarm trap in Studio City anyway, and that I was welcome to tag along and maybe get some frames from one of his hives. SuperKirko to the rescue!

So, as per Beekeeping for Dummies I shook out all the frames I had, in order to get rid of possible laying workers, and then added an extra box with the eggs and nurser bees. Hopefully when I check back in a couple weeks I will have little peanut shaped queen cells.

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