August 29

in the nuc adapted box on the top of the hive we had just one frame with capped honey on one side. Lots of capped brood.

IMGP2167Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Top warré was filling up nicely. 1-2 farmes of honey on ends. Lots of capped brood through the middle and 2-3 frames with eggs.

IMGP2162Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

We debated weather we should push them to expand. In the end we moved two brood frames down, and moved up frames that had more space to lay.

Septmeber 10

IMGP2398Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

No eggs. Some spotty capped brood.

IMGP2405Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Lots of drone brood and only a little uncapped brood and empty comb.

IMGP2403Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

A couple queen cells and a couple queen cups with eggs. This one was inadvertently damaged when removing the frame:

IMGP2438Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

This late in the season we felt it a bad idea to try and let them raise their own queen. Once we confirmed that we could get a new queen from a breeder we removed the developing queens.

There were plenty of wasps around. They didn't seem to be gaining access to the hive but were certainly trying. We took out at least 75 of them

IMGP2445Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

Why did they supercede? Had we pushed them too much before they were ready? Was it a weak queen to begin with? Maybe a combination of both?

September 11

Still some wasps around.

I systematically went through the hive again and confirmed there was no queen. I did find another queen cup which I had missed the previous day that I removed. Before putting the queen cage between the bars I laid it on top of the box to see how the bees responded to her.

As the bees appeared to be feeding her, as well as sticking their butts in the air to expose the nasonov gland while fanning. They did not appear to be aggressively attacking the cage and would come and go from the cage rather than clinging to it.  It appeared that they were grateful, and were taking a liking to her.

September 24

The new queen had been released and looked good, moving quickly around a frame in the nuc box. We saw some eggs on one frame in the nuc box and mostly nectar everywhere else.

The top warré box contained good amounts of nectar and had a few frames with eggs and young larvae.

IMGP2571Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The few combs in the bottom box contained pollen.

The entrance seemed to be lacking defence and the odd wasp was making it inside.

IMGP2567Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The drones were also being evicted:

The goldenrod flow has come to a definite end.

IMGP2591Photo by: Shawn Caza / CC: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

As they are really light on stores we fed approximately 1.5 litres of 2:1 sugar syrup.

Last week we were called to collect a swarm.

Right away we noticed a few indications that led us to believe the swarm was queenless:

  1. There was no single cluster. Bees were on the ground in two different locations and there were a few up in a tree.

  2. The bees were spread out and fanning. While it was hot, it's likely they were searching for queen scent rather than trying to keep cool. Even once we got them into a nuc box they spread out over the available surface of the box rather than clustering.

  3. They became very interested in the bee gloves of my friend John and actually started running en masse towards him when he first started looking for a queen.(You can see this in the video. Unfortunetly it's a little obscured as some bees had also become very interested in my camera at the same time.) I don't expect the residual bee smells on the gloves and camera would have been nearly as interesting if they had a queen giving them the pheremones they were really after.

We collected the bees and joined them with one of our weaker colonies. The colony we joined it with was a split with an old queen removed from a hive that had supersedure cells. We placed the swarm on top in a seperate box with a sheet of newspaper inbetween. Five days later we opened the hive to discover: the bees had already eaten two holes through the paper, one dead queen being mobbed by bees and one healthy looking queen going about her business.

We couldn't believe it. We searched for other explanations. Is it possible a virgin queen drifted back to the wrong hive from the other half of the split? Seems unlikely. So maybe the swarm did have a queen afterall. Upon reviewing the video again, I noticed relatively few bees fanning at the begining as compared with the end when some bees were already placed in a nuc box. Perhaps that should have been seen as sign the bees were just trying to keep cool vs. actually wondering about the current location of their queen?

Lesson? Check and double check when there is any doubt about a queens existence.