Ran out this morning and bought a replacement queen for the “Bees Rules” hive. Very carefully went through every frame multiple times to find the queen(s). Only found one nicely plump queen with all of her bits and pieces in place (on the 23rd frame I checked). Caught her in a clip and went through the hive one more time looking for Quasimodo. No supercedure cells, a couple of empty queen cups, but no mutant queen. I decided that the existing queen (new in July) was the safest bet. Marked her with bright orange and put her back in the hive.
Ended up using the new VHS italian queen to replace the 2017 queen in the Utah hive. I managed to get the old queen into a wooden queen cage and placed her in the Tupperware bowl with some fondant, a sponge of water, and a few attendant bees. I’ll try to keep her alive this way until I can verify a good acceptance of the new queen. It will be interesting to see how this experiment works out.
New experience with Eversweet Apiaries in WV purchasing the new queen. Real nice guy in the shop and I had a great visit with him. I should have gotten his name, but I have a feeling I’ll be back next spring. Spotted him a 20 to remember me when he starts taking reservations for New River queens next year. It would be very much in keeping with my plans to get a red-line mite mauler and a Perdue ankle biter for the main hives next May.
In the process of marking the queen orange, I moved to my garage patio, took off the leather gloves and bee jacket. Marked the queen and gave her a while to dry before suiting back up and putting the hive back together. Somehow, I didn’t remember to zip up the front of my jacket. In the middle of pissing the bees off by stacking the boxes back up I suddenly became aware that there was a bee inside my veil!! The little bugger stung me on the right cheek before I could move out of the area and take the veil off. It does not hurt too bad. We’ll see how much swelling it causes. Benedryl tonight before bed I think.
I did an inspection of the Bees Rules hive on the 15th and, once again, didn’t find the queen during the inspection. In reviewing the pictures of the frames taken during the inspection I did find a beaten and battered queen.
Plan is to get a new queen for this hive over the weekend. We’ll see if she has any better luck than the last couple of queens in this hive. With any luck I can get one that is brightly marked!
The Tardis hive seems to be real active and healthy. Time to tear it down and see how things are really going. While I have observed what I think are good quantities of wet brood and capped brood, I haven’t found the queen the last couple of times I’ve done an inspection. Today’s plan was to see if there was enough brood to steal a frame to reinforce the Misty NUC (which has had back-to-back brood breaks due to queen supercedure). Chris, the queen breeder from H. T. Krantz said that he does not mark his queens because they are so hygienic that they clean off the marking. Sounds like marketing to me, but I did mark here at my first opportunity. Time will tell.
Before taking a frame of brood for Misty, I wanted to be absolutely and positively sure that the Tardis queen was not on the frame that I was transferring. The only way I could think of to be positive would be to find and cage the queen before taking the frame.
So here she is, caught in a queen clip before the transfer. You can see her marking at the leftish bottom of the clip. Looks just like it did when I marked her. No wear and tear no the marking yet. While I did find her rather easily (on the 20th frame that I looked for her on) I have to remember that I did not see her on my two previous inspections of this hive. I’m having second thoughts about using white markings, but I’m not sure what would work better. I might try emergency green next year.
Tardis looks to be in great shape. Lots of stores and brood in the two deep brood boxes. About half of the frames in the medium super on top are built out in wax and they are storing phony honey (from sugar syrup) there. I felt real comfortable taking a frame of brood for the Misty NUC.
I put the frame of brood in the middle of the new upper brood chamber (5 over 5 frames) to draw more of the Misty bees into the upper box to get them started on building it out with Winter resources. The other side of the frame only has about half the capped brood that this side does. It will be interesting to see if they follow my plan:)
The little NUC that I split off of the “Bees Rules” hive with a couple of the supercedure cells raised a new queen in July. After she had laid up all of the available space in the NUC, the bees – once again – sperceded her. Not sure if it was a problem with the queen or if I may have accidentally killed her (or if she may have been killed in a robbery). Anyhow, that was on July 20th and I figured that if the new queen was going to bee bred she should bee there by now.
Finding a queen is a lot easier in a NUC than it is in a big hive with supers and multiple brood boxes. Found her on the second frame and took the opportunity to mark her to make the job easier next time. Not a lot of larvae to be seen yet, but she is just starting out. I’ll need to keep the feed on this NUC through the fall. I did add a second five frame NUC on top with foundation two days ago. If they can build all of that out they might actually make it through the Winter.
Took a look at the Utah hive (really just a NUC in an eight frame brood box with a medium of foundation on top). They are building up resources. They have a lot more pollen stored than I have seen in the other hives. They have a couple of heavy frames and are building wax in the medium on top. I’ll keep the feed on them until they have built out all of the frames or it gets too cold for them to make wax.
One of the current problems that bee keepers are having relates to low hive survival rates, particularly over the Winter. A lot of hobbyist bee keepers just accept the losses and buy replacement bees in the Spring. I think I need a more sustainable approach.
I would prefer to just have one single beehive. Unfortunately, it seems that you need to keep at least two to allow reinforcement of week hives and moving bees out of crowded hives to reduce the risk of swarming.
With my recent experience in getting the bees to make new queens, I have decided that using what I learned in the process I should be able to cover normal winter hive losses by running a couple of small (NUC) hives just for bee and queen building. This would allow me to breed my own queens for annual replacement as well as providing insurance hives to cover me if one of my main hives succumbs to winter. I have most of the woodenware (and bees) to do this, so I guess I have a plan.
The plan then, is to go into Winter with two hives and two NUCs. If I do well (no losses) I will have two hives ready to take advantage of our Maryland Spring nectar flow. If only half survive I can populate the main hive losses by moving the NUCs over and have a great start on our short spring nectar flow with built out comb without having to buy bees and wait.
If the NUCs survive I will unstack the boxes making four 5 frame NUCS, place an “egg layer” frame in the best hive. Once it has fresh eggs (larvae less than three days old) I will move the frame into a queenless NUC and let the bees there make new queens. These will then bred in the four NUCs and the best two will be used to replace the queens in the main hives later in the year (June or July).
I’ll move the old queens from the main hives into the NUCs (pinching the queens there) and restack the NUCs to build for the following winter.
Need to catch up here a bit. Had a bit of excitement this summer. I tried to replace the queen in my “Bees Rules” hive. The process had gone so smoothly in the Tardis hive that I actually thought I knew what I was doing. Wrong! Went into the “Bees Rules” hive a week after changing the queen and there were supercedure cells everywhere!! No queen to be found! Seems the bees didn’t agree with my choice.
Pulled a frame with cells, a capped brood frame, and a resource frame and tossed them in a five frame NUC. Then I patiently waited a couple of weeks to see if they could raise a queen or two of their liking.
Checked both the original hive and the NUC once the cells had time to hatch, harden and get bred. Eggs and larvae in every available cell in both boxes.
New queen in the “Bees Rules” box is kicking butt. The little NUC, however, is a different story. Either the bees there didn’t like their hyper productive new queen, or I damaged her doing the inspection. There were about a half a dozen supercedure cells and no queen to be found when I did the hive inspection with a plan to mark the new queen. This was on the 27th of July. This is rather late in the summer for the hive to get their new virgin queen out in time to get bred.
I’ll probably end up having to combine the NUC back into the “Bees Rules” box in the fall but for now I’m being optimistic that they can build up before then to the point that they can make it through the winter.