Please remember, we are very new at this. This is an account of what we're observing and doing, NOT a recommendation of what to do. Only time will tell if we're on the right track. So in the meantime, read along, look at the pictures and appreciate all the amazing skills that the BEES possess.
Two Saturdays ago (the Saturday after all the "swarms"), while the kids were at my sister's, Jamey and I spent some quality time with our hives.
We abandoned our former method of putting hive legs in motor oil (to keep the ants out) because the rain kept replacing the oil and bees kept falling in them (and dying, of course). Instead we're trying Vaseline brushed around the legs. We'll keep you posted on how it's working.
Disgusting, isn't it? A mixture of motor oil, rain, bugs and bees:-(. No more.
The lower hive which was doing perfectly ten days before, left us bewildered. There were no eggs and no young larva = no evidence of a laying queen. There were a few older larva still present and plenty of capped brood, but clearly the beautiful light-colored queen that was so easy to find for weeks and weeks was gone. What happened to her? We have no idea.
a little bearding on a warm day
The upper hive, which was to be raising a queen, was full of capped honey, unripe honey, pollen, drones, workers, lots of empty queen cells but no queen and no eggs or larva. So either...
1) our grafts didn't take,
2) they did but they swarmed,
3) the new queen wasn't back from her mating flight or
4) she hadn't started laying yet and we didn't see her.
We don't know which, so we took a brushed (no adult bees) comb of eggs and larva from the divide hive (the only one with a queen at this point) and transferred it over. Our hope is that the brood pheromone will suppress the worker's urge to lay eggs and/or give the workers another chance to raise a queen from one of the eggs.
Two hives were queenless. We figured we had three choices.
1) Do nothing and hope that the bees would raise themselves some queens.
2) Try grafting more eggs into empty queen cells again to get them started.
3) Buy two queens and introduce them to the hives.
We put in a call to the apiary we bought the bees from to see if they had any local queens available. While waiting for a call back, I looked online to see if I could find any apiaries in our state (or neighboring states) who had queens available. All were sold out until spring of 2014 or were charging outrageous prices.
Miracle of all miracles, the kind folks we bought the bees from called back to say that they had two capped queen cells that we could HAVE which were due to hatch out in a few days. Sweet!
These are the plastic queen cups which were grafted with young bee larva by the local beekeeper. The bees fed and then capped the pupa, soon to (hopefully) emerge healthy and happy queen bees.
So, that very same day, Jamey picked up the capped queen cups that were grafted by the beekeeper and pressed them into combs in our queenless hives. Now, we wait 2-3 weeks to see if the queens emerge, mate and begin laying.
queen cup pressed into comb in hopes she'll make this her new home
We are in awe of the roller coaster ride beekeeping has been after these few months. While it's a tad more exciting than we would have liked, we sure are learning a lot. If you're considering bees, keep this in mind. Seriously. Actually getting honey from the hives this year? It's the furthest thing from our minds:-).Pin It