May 4, 2014 (Sunday)
With the addition of Baby Nuc and the continuing growth of Blue Hive, we decided to move the raised bed and make room for two more hives. I even went out and purchased two new hives, just to be prepared. It’s always good to have extra hive bodies and frames around, especially during swarm season.
We lined the ground with landscape fabric (while dodging some testy bees) and leveled it out with pea gravel. Poor Baby Nuc was moved a few times, and we’d come back to their spot to find bees flying around wondering what happened to their hive. Needless to say, we worked fast and safely returned Baby Nuc back to its original location, and the aimless foragers landed on the front porch, happy to have found their missing home.
Baby Nuc Wants a Queen
As we prepped the new area, I peeked in Baby Nuc to see if they’d created any queen cells yet. Baby Nuc was created with some nice frames of brood and larvae from Blue Hive. But I wasn’t sure whether I’d provided the eggs they needed to produce a new queen.
I was told that after bees are separated from their hive and placed into a new queenless colony, it takes 24 hours for their queen’s smell to dissipate. When that happens, they acknowledge that they are queenless and begin working immediately to create new queen from the most newly laid eggs.
During my inspection, I saw drone cells and burr comb, and at the bottom of one frame was a small and undistinguishable queen cell. Not what I was hoping for. Small is not an issue. Even small queen cells can yield good queens, but I wasn’t even sure it WAS a queen cell.
I’d continue watching them and if they hadn’t created a queen cell in another week, then I’d simply give them another frame of brood, larvae and eggs from Blue Hive. That is, unless Blue Hive had a queen cell to spare. Then I could transfer the queen cell to Baby Nuc and all they’d have to do is feed it and wait for the virgin queen to hatch, mate and start laying eggs. This process usually takes about 4 weeks.
Blue Hive Ready to Swarm
The good news – Not only is Blue Hive incredibly active, laying up a storm and packing in tons of bees, they’re also laying lots of drones and (drum roll please)…queen cells! Score! Free Texas queen offspring for Baby Nuc. I shook the bees off and happily placed the frame into Baby Nuc. The cell was close to 1-1/2 inches long. Perfect!
The bad news – Blue Hive has swarm written all over it. When purchasing my hives, I met up a bee club member who is a professional beekeeper. He said that when honey meets brood, they’re preparing to swarm. All of the above mentioned signs, combined with the fact that Blue Hive has outgrown its space and the brood is definitely meeting the honey, tell me that these girls are ready to swarm. My plan is to give them a proper split into one of the new hives. But first (as suggested by my beekeeper friend), I placed a full box of drawn comb beneath the top honey box, separating it from the brood box. This gives them room to expand and will hopefully prevent swarming for the time being, at least until I can get a good split from them.
Yellow Hive Business as Usual
Yellow Hive looks great. I gave them a new box last week, so they’re working on filling that out. They’re laying, feeding, and doing all the things that a healthy and active new colony should be doing.
Green Hive Picking Up and Filling Out
I’m happy that Green Hive has perked up and is doing well. Like Yellow Hive, they’re laying, they’re active, and they’ve filled in their two boxes, so I gave them a third box of drawn comb to grow into then I closed them up.
Yay for Honey!
I’m feeling good at the moment and am especially excited at the prospect of adding more hives to the apiary. Even more exciting, the supers will go on this weekend and we’ll start collecting honey. Yay for honey! It’s good to have bees.