One of the most important things to consider before conducting a hive inspection is the weather. Cloudy and drizzle, equals bad idea! Do not do it, or I shouldn’t have, but I did. Future lesson, wait to do a hive inspection on a fine sunny day.
The Honeymoon Period is Over
It’s been four weeks since I brought my honeybees home and the honeymoon period is over. My once calm, hardworking bees are now fighting each other at the entrance. From what I have read my hive may have “robbers,” robbing their honey. Robbers in honeybee language are honeybees from another colony taking the honey from a hive that is not theirs. A hive that is getting robbed is sign of a week hive. To try and counter the robbing I have reduced the entrance, with an entrance reducer so they can defend their hive better.
I am concerned that I rolled the queen in the last inspection, this could be part of the reason why they are weak. The bees have changed drastically after the last inspection. During the last inspection I removed the sugar water, saw larvae and added a second super. There were allot of bees on the lid however and I wonder if I squished her. I also received my first sting as I got overly confident and rocked up to the hive and did the inspection without taping boots and one crawl up my pants and then stung me on my ankle.
Maybe I am having “first child syndrome,” and I am over worrying about them because I only have one hive. It is time to bring in a professional inspector to calm my nerves and advise me whether I need to re-queen or not. I now realise that I should have made sure I bought a Nuc with a marked queen. A marked queen would have helped me better identify her, from a beginners perspective this is really important and would have helped reduce allot off my anxiety.
The hive was QUEENLESS!
On June 22, 2016, on a sunny day, I conducted a hive inspection with Shelly Armstrong a professional Apiarist. Turns out my instincts were correct, I was queenless. We know this because when we opened the hive we found 4 queens, which is crazy. It turns out we opened the hive just after the newly developed queens hatched, all at the same time! This means we saw a very rare moment when more then one queen emerges but before they have had the time to find each other and fight until only one queen remains.
Queen number 1, the queen is at the top of the image. This is a great picture of a queen, a drone (he is in the middle of the two worker bees below the queen) and then of course the two workers. The bees are standing on a drone frame full of drone larvae. Drone cones are one method for controlling varroa mites. I will talk about this method in another blog post and also tell you what I did wrong.
So here I am with my queens scattered everywhere and feeling like I have made a royal mess of things. All we could do was try and get the queens back into the hive. They will have to fight until one remains so she can fulfill her destiny. The surviving queen will have to make a 1 to 2 km journey to find a drone congregation area where she will mate with several drones. She then has to make it back to the hive, where she will then remain to begin populating the hive. Shelley, the professional apiarist marked the queens with a white queen marking pen so I could hopefully find the survivor in the future if the process works out. I will take a deep breath and wait.
Up-date from the future, May 2, 2017
A queen survived, she is not marked, so perhaps one that we had not seen and was still in the hive was the champion of the battle. She is a strong queen, she managed to restore the hive, making a strong and productive colony. Her colony survived the very long winter and is looking good coming into the spring.