Since the split and insertion of the two queen cells during my last inspection, my plan was to get in and first check to see if they have hatched. Hopefully I could spot a virgin queen running around in the process. I already know that the split hive has significantly less bees in it, as there is very little activity at the hive entrance. Because of this, I also planned on either moving a frame of bees into the split hive or just shaking them off the frames and into the split hive. With plan in place, Chris and I suited up, lit the smoker and headed out to the split hive.
This was going to be a good training and teaching hive because there were not going to be a lot of bees and it would be much easier to point things out. Plus, not having a bunch of bees flying around your head is a bit less intimidating for someone's first time. We opened the hive and I was able to go through the honey super pretty quickly. There were only a few bees there and solid honey frames all look the same after seeing a few. I removed that box and started digging through the brood box, eager to get to the frame with the queen cell on it! After prying back the fourth frame, I could see the bottom of the queen cell was opened so the queen was out somewhere! We removed the queen cell and started in on the next frame and BAM there was the hatched virgin queen! I pointed her out to Chris and in the 10 seconds it took to get the camera out to grab of picture of her........she as gone. I flipped the frame over and back again a few times and she was no longer there. She must have gotten spooked and flew off. Camera shy I guess. We went through the rest of the frames and we found a bunch more honey, but I was concerned that I didn't find any stored pollen. That might be OK for the moment, but if the virgin queen does fly out and mate, comes back and starts laying eggs, there had better be some pollen in there to feed the baby bees! We put the honey super back on the hive and put the inner cover back on. I left the telescoping cover off at this point in case the queen came back she could get back in the hive a bit easier. On to White Hive.
We opened up this hive and there were a lot more bees here as expected. After a bit more smoke into the hive (Chris was my head smoker and picture taker) we dove in and quickly went through the honey super and set it to the side. After a bit of coaxing I was able to get the first frame out and begin the inspection. With the first few frames inspected, I was really pleased to see some pollen and "bee bread" packed into the cells.
I checked inside the queen cup just to make sure there was nothing in it, and there was nothing in there. I continued on and began checking the next frame in line. I slowed down a bit since the closer I was to the frame with the queen cell, the higher the probability that I would be able to spot the emerged virgin queen (if she was there at all). I pulled the frame with the queen cell and sure enough, she had hatched. The bottom of the cell was open and hopefully she was running around inside the hive. I proceeded to move the frame out of the way and pulled the next frame out and I find..........BROOD?!?!?! What??
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmath.htm) right around the time I placed the queen cell in this hive. Coincidence? I think I need to give Sherlock Holmes a call because I can't quite sequence the timing and all the possibilities together to form a rock solid answer to what is going on. Usually, queen cells built in the center of the frame like this are considered Supercedure cells. This means the bees have decided that the old queen is beginning to fail and they have determined to replace her. Maybe that is what was going on and my timing was just really bad? Who knows?
We finished inspecting the remaining frames and failed to spot either the old queen or the virgin queen. At this point there wasn't much left to do but close up the hive. I did take two of the frames out and after closely inspecting them (and not finding any queens), I took them over to the split hive and shook the bees into it. Hopefully that will give them a few more bees to supplement their numbers until the virgin queen mates and starts laying eggs to make new bees!
Hopefully, I will open the hive in another week and what I find will give more answers to the mystery. All in all it was a very educational inspection, not only for "newbee" Chris but for me as well!!
Thanks again for reading
|Chris and Mark about to embark on an adventure!|