Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Highs, the Lows & the I Don't Know What to Do

I am so stuck. I just don't know what the heck to do. Well I mean I can think of what to do but I just need a few minutes here to try to figure things out--

To settle my mind and think...

I went to the bee yard today to switch 2 honey supers, putting a full one on top of an empty one with frames that need drawn comb.
The bees hadn't been drawing the comb so the shift is in hopes that the bees will notice the super.
I got this done in less than a minute and with minimal smoke (Hive #2).
But before I got to that point as I approached the hives I noticed low activity again on both hives.

It was 6:00 in the evening and a little overcast but it wasn't raining. The rain is scheduled for tomorrow.

It just didn't seem right to me again mostly because there weren't even many bees hanging out on the stoop, nor were there many bees hanging out just inside the hive - you know, the bees you can see on the bottom board if you lean down and look inside.
But worst of all, I saw a ball of bees on the ground. A small ball, and sticking out from the cluster was a golden body. A beautiful golden body with a long abdomen.
The queen. And she was dead.

I brushed the bees away from her and picked her up.

I was hoping against hope this might be another queen that hatched and was defeated by the lovely queen.

There's just no way to know for sure.

Unfortunately she looks a lot like the queen in the photos taken the other day.

What now? I think it's time to call in some professional help to have a look see.
I need experienced eyes to look and tell me what they see.

It may be time as well to buy a queen.

I noticed "white stuff" sticking out her rear end as well as part of her stinger.
I don't know if the white stuff is parts of drones after mating or her own organs.

It's all a big mystery. Talk about The Secret Life of Bees.

Here are the photos, for my records, but I certainly did not enjoy this photo op. She does have a small dent mark on her back.
I looked under the microscope and it doesn't look like it punctured her flesh, but it would be the right size for a sting mark.
It is very possible this is a smaller queen that lost a battle. I guess time will certainly tell.

And look at the front porch on my hives in the photo - looks way to quiet to me for early evening.

I didn't realize there would be so many ups and downs in beekeeping, at least so close together. I confess that today I'm not happy to be a beekeeper. (Don't worry, I'm not one to give up easily).


The Beneficial Bee said...

How strange Barbara. I'm sorry you lost a queen, hopefully it was not THE queen. I'm interested to see what the experts say!

Anonymous said...

Barbara, so sorry to hear this news. I am a little perplexed because they balled her. I wonder if it may have been a queen that was on her mating flight and returned to the wrong hive? Gosh, the possibilities are endless in this caper, that's for sure. I think you're right, it may be time to call in an expert like I had to do. I'm trying to learn and investigate and come to as many conclusions on my own if I can, but dealing with the bees can confound the devil out of me sometimes. Keep us all posted!

Kat said...

I know nothing about beekeeping, but enjoy beekeeper sites. I am sorry about the queen.

Cliff W said...

That's strange. This is an example of when having a marked queen would be useful to help you know for sure.

The high and lows of beekeeping :) & :(

Keep us beginners posted.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Cliff - I hoped to get her marked but hadn't done it yet. It would make all the difference in the world. Now I'll have to do another inspection to see if there is a queen still.

Mark - I wondered too if she flew into the wrong hive when she returned. I guess I'll never know. By the way, love your new blog design - tried to leave a comment but it wouldn't work.

Anonymous said...

Barbara: Thanks for the compliment on the new blog design! I worked on it while it rained cats and dogs. By the way, I took of the comments problem. Now the comments are a in a pop-up box like yours. So feel free to comment away! :)

PhilipH said...

My goodness Barbara, this is such a harrowing post. I do feel so sorry for you as you show us in words and pictures how worrisome this bee-keeping love story can be at times.

Glad to read that you're not a quitter; I think I might have been had it been me!

Kat said...

Thank you for your kinds words on my last blog. It is sad to lose them, but he had a good long life. Thank you again.

Seeds in the City. said...

Hello Barbara,

That is so distressing! I hope that it's not the queen, but if it is - I hope the workers are able to get a new queen going.

Good luck, and thank you for your wonderful photos!