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.
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