Saturday, June 20, 2015

Requeening

At the Pines yard last week I have 6 hives.  They're all slow right now as they're requeening.
 
During that time the number of foraging bees drops off as the whole population decreases while we wait for the new queen to hatch, mate and get back to the hive and start laying eggs.
 
Then we have to wait for the eggs to hatch.
 
It's about 30 days in all until the population starts to pick up again as new bees are hatching.
 
I find it a little concerning as the days go by and the population is low.  I worry whether they have been able to requeen successfully or not.
 
Now it's true you can open the hive and inspect, but how many times have you found that when pulling frames the queen cells get crushed or disturbed.
 
The bees put them close to the bottom of the frame, or hanging down in the spaces in the frames.  Too many times I've pulled frames (and I do it very carefully and I also heft and look underneath first) and I still damage cells.
 
Nothing is more frustrating than damaging a beautiful fully capped queen cell.  So instead I stay out of the hive for the 30 day count just to be sure I don't muck things up for the bees.
 
After the 30 days I check for brood and if there's none then I will go to another strong hive and steal a frame that has eggs so that the queenless hive can make another queen.  I'll steal one frame per week (to a max of 3 and often from different hives) until I see a queen cell started.
 
At the started stage a queen cell is like a button or a nub and not so easily damaged on inspection.
 
A couple years ago while doing a split I had three full size capped queen cells break open and the fully developed queens ran up into the hive.  One of the cells broke open and I put my hand under it and the queen dropped out right into my hand.  The good news was that I had another hive that was queenless so I just popped her into their front door.
 
 
 
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