Tuesday, March 27, 2012

They have a Queen ... Sorta, Kinda, Maybe

Here we go again.

The story is much like the small surprise swarm that showed up last year. They moved into a super. There were a few hundred of them - a small struggling hive with no queen, but someone was laying eggs.

They had a laying worker (drone layer). We could tell because of the bullet-like cappings.

With Hive #1 I reported that there were three frames with a small cluster of bees.  I spotted eggs in many cells. Some cells had more than one egg.  That's a no-no.

[Photo - Janice assisting with the inspection]

You know what that can mean: A Laying Worker.  There was clearly no queen in sight.

[Photo - see the queen at the top of the frame]
Fast forward one week later. I show the hive to my beekeeping friend Janice. She confirms that she saw a couple eggs in a couple cells. Then while I’m holding the frame closely I see Her.

She’s tiny and not much bigger than the workers. Was she there all along and I didn't see her?  She has the shiny black hairless back and brown legs that are customary with queens.

So now the question is, is she really a queen or is she a laying worker that is morphing into a queen? Can they do that or have I watched too many science fiction movies lately?

I have read that new inexperienced queens can lay more than one egg in a cell. It’s just that the workers fix things by moving the eggs.

If she’s a new queen is she mated? Are there even drones available (with mature sperm) so early in spring?

So many questions.

Only time will answer them.


Sam Smith said...

When queens are not fertile they can only lay drones, I don't think drones are out yet, they take 42 days? and we have only had nice weather for a couple of weeks (in my part of ontario), are any of the cells caped yet?

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Hi Sam. I don't think drones are out yet either and if they hatched today they'd still need some time for their sperm to mature.
When scraping frames last weekend I did see capped drone comb between the frames so at least the queens are laying (this is on one of my other hives).
On the questionable hive I hope to check this weekend to see if the cappings are bullets or flat.

I'm in London Ontario.