Jul 16 2016
So I got home from work in CA on Friday about 6pm and decided to run out and do a quickie inspection of the two hives with the queens and quick release the queens into the hives. I was supposed to rain on Saturday and I didn’t want to delay.
It was about 64, overcast, and a little windy and the bees were not out, so I knew there would be a LOT of bees in the hives and they may get grumpy. They didn’t get grumpy – they were perfect ladies.
I suited up quick like, got the smoker going, took out a blade to pull up the wire screen on the queen cages.
I just moved the two top boxes of honey over to the deck. I then smoked the Queen excluder to get the bees down, put aside the queen excluder and started to just quickly inspect to see if there were any eggs in the hive.
As you look down into the hive, you can see bees working or covering the frames. If there are eggs or brood, they will be completely covering the frame like a blanket. If there is honey and nectar, there may be a lot of bees on the frame, but they’re moving about.
So I grabbed basically the middle frames of each of the next two boxes as they had a lot of bees on the frames. I looked and no eggs. OK, so far good news – no virgin queen was laying.
I then revealed the bottom box with the queen cage wedged between the 2nd and 3rd frames on the right.
The first thing I thought was – wait a minute – I didn’t buy a queen with attendants – why are there bees in the queen cage?
I pulled out the queen cage and – interesting. The very stiff wire mesh on the cage, which is held down on the cage by a runner on each side of the cage (see picture) was pulled up from the cage (see picture) and the queen was not in the cage. That means somehow several bees have to have really really pulled hard on that wire and bent it up to let the queen out. Whaaaaaaa?! The candy plug in the cage was also entire gone and cleaned out.
Now I’m wondering – so where’s the queen? And why aren’t there any eggs in the hive if they released her? If she was out for more than a day, she should have been laying. Great.
So I looked again at frames as I put the boxes back together, looking for eggs and a queen, but not in huge detail because it was getting a little cold and darker and I needed to get to the purple hive. Soooooo, I closed up the hive.
I did the same, moving the top 2 honey boxes off, smoking the excluder, moving it off and quickly going through the next box. In the 2nd box from the bottom, I found eggs.
But wait a minute – there were eggs all over this frame. First, a digression.
Sometimes when bees are panicked without a queen, the worker bees start laying eggs. These eggs are all sterile and produce only drones. And since the worker bees don’t really know what they’re doing, you can tell they’ve been laying because they’ll lay 2 or more eggs in a cell, or lay the eggs up the sides of the cell – all wonky because they’re not queens and don’t know what they’re doing.
OK, back to the frame with the eggs…..these cells had 5, 6, 7, 8 eggs in a cell. All over the frame. Most of them were not floating in royal jelly – they had just dried up where they were at. A few were in the tiny stage (2-3 days old) in jelly, but 1 or 2 in a cell. There were about 3 frames with this same scenario on both sides. Whoooboy. I wish I had my camera or cell phone on me, but I didn’t.
I then exposed the bottom box and there was the queen still in her cage. I pulled the cage out and inspected the bottom box and found 3 more frames with these eggs all over. This is the first time I’ve ever seen workers laying eggs.
Here’s the problem – some of the cells have just 1 egg. So were there all worker cells? Or was there also a virgin queen laying? I have to go with the most likely, which is these are all workers laying eggs. So I took all the frames with eggs in the cells and scraped and scored the cells to destroy the eggs.
I then put the queen cage down in between two frames, peeled back the stiff wire mesh and tapped the queen cage hard. No more queen in the cage. I assume she went down in the hive. I hope she went down in the hive instead of flying away (they usually won’t do this).
I quickly closed up the hive.
So my plan of action?
Leave them both alone for 2 weeks. I’ll then take a peek. If either of the hives is still not laying eggs, I am not buying more queens. I’ll let the hive cure their honey and slowly die a natural death and then any bees left in the hives end of August, I’ll combine with the one or two good hives left for the winter. I’m not spending another $100 this year on queens.
Comments Off on Well. That was interesting