Jul 20 2014
This is regarding my inspection on Saturday, July 19.
I decided to get an early jump and got out to inspect the bees at 8am, which was a good idea. It wasn’t nearly as sweaty. The girls weren’t really out and about a lot, but they weren’t grumpy, the sun was up and it was already 73. I used the smoker, but I’m wondering if the girls already thought we were in a fire – the smoke from the forest fires surrounding us in this area are absolutely choking. The sun this morning was a dark red ball, there’s a creepy orange/brown haze over everything and the smell of woodsmoke was so strong in the night it woke us up. We can’t see them from here, of course, and we’re safe in the city, but the fires jumped into our county last night, the winds are strong and there are hundreds of acres of forest burning to the west, north and east of us in different spots.
Soooooo, I suited up, got my smoker, my wax collecting tub, camera and little notebook.
Speaking of wax collecting – I really have collected very, very little – scant little pieces. The girls in both of these hives are pretty neat and aren’t prone to making crazy wax all over in appropriate places like some of my past hives. They’re a little more orderly.
My goal today was to see if either of my hives still had a queen and if they were laying. It’s been a week since I found both hives without any open or capped larvae, didn’t spy either queen, and found a great big ol’ capped queen cell in the blue hive where Queen Kloke had been installed.
- There were 5 boxes on this hive.
- There was a total of 13 frames full of capped honey, 6 frames pretty full of pollen, some frames with some new nectar.
- There were 11 frames of bees
- All the rest of the frames were empty and cleaned out
- There were no capped or uncapped brood, no larvae in any stage and no eggs
- I did not see a queen
- The very large queen cell I saw last time is now torn open on the bottom. It did not have a little trap door, but looked chewed out – I don’t know if that was from within or without. I tore it open and looked inside and there was nothing
This means I may (or may not) have a virgin queen on the loose in the hive. I looked carefully but there was no motion, entourage or anything else that indicated the presence of a queen. That means absolutely nothing since virgin queens are notoriously hard to spot and very, very quick. I’ve only seen one in my entire time of beekeeping.
I’m going to let them figure out their own thing here. I’ll check them again next weekend and leave them alone this week. At the very worst, if they actually don’t make a queen at all and I go 3-4 weeks with no queen activity, I’ll combine it with the orange hive for the winter.
- This hive had 5 boxes
- There were 13 frames of new honey just capped, 3 1/2 frames full of new nectar, 7 frames full of pollen
- There were 6 frames of bees
- The drone trap was still empty and cleaned and this is where I spotted Queen Håper, scuttling around looking healthy. Video of the Queen
- There were 3 frames with with large, pearly white larvae in the center, smaller and smaller brood circling out and tiny fresh eggs at the edges – YEAH QUEEN HÅPER!
- There was one frame with capped brood
- The rest of the frames were empty and cleaned out
I moved the 3 frames of open brood to the bottom box, in the middle, with honey and pollen on the sides. The 2nd box has the capped brood in the middle, and the drone trap with the queen and honey and pollen.
I removed 3 frames of honey from the orange hive and replaced them with 3 empty, drawn out frames. I removed 1 frame of honey from the blue hive and replaced it with the frozen drone-pop frame.
I have no idea why Queen Håper took a 2 week break from laying. C’est la vie.
I have no idea where Queen Kloke went, why they made a new queen and if a queen is even alive in the hive or will survive. At livet (that’s c’est la vie in Norwegian).
It seems like every bee season I have one hive that does great, one – not so much. I’m either combining, splitting and re-combining, waiting for a queen to be made, losing the weak hive to wasps, or coddling along a hive trying to make a queen or replacing a queen when they can’t, or replacing replaced queens.
Each year I think I’m going to split both hives when it’s swarming season and I’ll have 3 or 4 hives and it never happens because one is struggling.
I frankly don’t know if I’d do better if I just bought a queen every single fall, pinched the existing year old queen, and artificially managed the hives and their queens this way, importing them from California like many do. But I’ve decided to let my bees try this on their own, try to make their own healthy queens that can last through a winter and try and determine when they want to boot out an existing queen.
NOTE TO SELF:
I think next April, I’ll go ahead and buy a full bee package with a queen. Then I’ll have my 3 hives I’ve been wanting. If I have one hive constantly in turmoil, maybe I’ll have two hives that are always great.