Wednesday, April 11, 2012

They Have a Queen ....Really and Truly

What a surprise.  And a lovely one at that.

I waited a little over a week to inspect Hive #1 again.  The weather had been cool during the day time.  I didn't want to pull frames on this small hive in colder temperatures.

[Photo - Hive #1 workers clustered over combs]

With temperatures at +13 I decided to go ahead.  By then the brood would be capped.

The big question was do they have a real mated queen or a drone layer?  The cappings would be the tell-all evidence.

(I wrote about this previously when Janice and I  inspected the hive and found a tiny queen).

We saw combs with more than one egg in a cell and I was concerned that I might have a laying worker (drone layer).
On inspection I could see the cluster had grown  with workers and best of all, the capped combs were with worker brood.

This answers the question do queens sometimes lay more than one egg in a cell?  Yes they do.

I had read (I think it might have been Tungsten's book The Buzz about Bees) that the workers will move the eggs when the queen does that.
Also, if the queen is laying more eggs than the hive can handle, either because they don't have enough workers or enough resources to handle that many brood, the workers will eat the eggs.

That explains why the brood are still only occupying the top right corner of three frames - there's not enough workers to cover a larger area and keep the brood warm and fed. They do have pollen and honey. I've also given them a pollen patty which they are consuming and a hive top feeder with sugar water which so far they have ignored.

[Photo - the queen is at the bottom just to the right of center.  I swear her abdomen is longer than before.  Is it possible that when I saw her last she hadn't mated yet?]

I want to give them a frame of brood from another hive and wonder if I could put a frame in, bees and all. I'll need to ask my mentors. If that could be done then the bees would gain workers, nurse bees, and it could help increase their numbers faster. If I put in a frame of just brood right now there’s not enough workers to tend to them.

[Photo - queen bottom to right of center]


I do know that a hive this tiny is normally considered a write off and would be left to die but I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to practise my beekeeping skills and see if I can help to bring them back from the brink. There are some advantages to being a hobby beekeeper. I’m keen to help and I've got the time and patience to give it a try.

I don't need to ask the bees, I know they're keen too.
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