Aug 12 2017

Letting the girls have their heads

So yesterday, Friday, at 8:20am, at  70 degrees, and smoke in the “danger for all persons” zone, I went out and did a quick 30 minute inspection of the hives to see if putting on the liquid feeders prompted the queens in the yellow and blue hives to get their mojo going.

Yellow hive, flip side of the frame. Lots of queen cells built on this one

Yellow hive, flip side of the frame. Lots of queen cells built on this one

It was so smokey the sun didn’t really look like it was up yet so there were very few girls flying even that late in the morning. I knew going in that the hives would be pretty crowded with bees and they might get grumpy.

I started the smoker – which kind of felt counter-productive.  But if I needed to calm them down, I’d have it. I did need a few puffs a couple of times just to get them to stop coming up to my veil and taking a very close peek at my eyes. They weren’t aggressive or thwacking me, but the guards were doing their job.

You’ll be looking down into the hive box with the top bars and down between the frames just absolutely jam packed stuffed with bees. Then a couple of bees will just come flying right up between the bars, straight out, and right up to my veil in front of my face and buzz around looking straight in at me. Like an inch from the veil. So I just lift up the smoker and make a little light puff at my face and they go away.

Yellow hive on one side of the frame. This is actually 3 queens cells all stuck together with walls between them.

Yellow hive on one side of the frame. This is actually 3 queens cells all stuck together with walls between them.

I spent a lot of time coughing and choking out there because of the smoke in the air, not the smoke in my smoker.

In both hives, I just moved all the feed boxes off to the side. They both had 3 boxes pretty darn heavy with nectar and honey getting cured. 

Then I just moved quickly through the 3 brood boxes, starting in the middle frames because that’s normally where you’d find the queen if she was moving (chimneying) up.

In each of the hives, in the bottom box, there was 1 frame of eggs and tiny brood from last time. The Blue Hive had a frame filled half with tiny 2-3 day olds floating in royal jelly, and the Yellow Hive had a frame of fresh eggs and 2-3 day olds that I stole from the Orange Hive.

Blue Hive. Here are a couple of queen cells and in the middle are two queen cups being formed with fat larvae. You can see a few fat, bug-eyed drones on this frame

Blue Hive. Here are a couple of queen cells and in the middle are two queen cups being formed with fat larvae. You can see a few fat, bug-eyed drones on this frame

Neither hive had any fresh eggs or babies. Neither hive had a queen that could be found. Both hives had several frames of pollen being brought in and both hives had a lot of bees – at least 16-20 frames. But both hives, on the previous frames of eggs, were building new queens.  So clearly, there were no queens in these hives and the girls are making some.

I’ve put a couple pictures here of each hive making their queens. I believe the open queen cells are queen cells being still built and being capped over the large queen cells, because they don’t look “torn out”, rather they have smooth edges like they’re being built up. So there is no apparent hatched out queen yet. But pretty soon – those ladies only take about 16 days from laying to hatch out.

When I previously talked to the Wiz about this I was worried there wouldn’t be enough drones for a good mating if I let them make their own queen. But he said not to worry. His “drone yard” was active and had tons and tons of drones and he’s 5 minutes from my house so these girls should get mated well.

Blue Hive. Here you can see a fat queen cell; a big fat drone with gigantic eyes that meet in the middle; and a not quite capped off queen cup with a fat white larvae inside. You can see how these queen cells really do look like peanuts and they're the same size as a big peanut.

Blue Hive. Here you can see a fat queen cell; a big fat drone with gigantic eyes that meet in the middle; and a not quite capped off queen cup with a fat white larvae inside. You can see how these queen cells really do look like peanuts and they’re the same size as a big peanut.

So I’m going to let them do their thang. Give ’em a week to  hatch, 2-3 to get mated and get their mojo going. If at the end of September, they’re not building up like they should for winter, I’ll just combine them either with a good queen if one of the hives has a good queen going, or buy a queen and combine them so they can get ready for building up for winter.  But I’ll let them just be on their own for now.

Go Girls!

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