Sunday, May 8, 2011

Honey Raid, Inspection report.

Quick recap of recent events:

* about 18 days ago, we tried to capture a swarm, but they didn't stay in the new hive we built for them. Instead they joined our existing hive. OK, so far so good.
* the next day, that same hive did a practice swarm, where 11 lb of bees left, flew around then came back.
* 14 days ago, we did an inspection, found queen cells, and split the hive. This means we took honey, brood, and some frames with queen cells and put them in the new hive, which we had prepared for the swarm. Handy.
* 11 days ago the first hive swarmed for real. It was a 7.5lb swarm. We tried to capture it, but it didn't go so well. In the end we regained 5lbs of bees, but lost 2.5 lb and the queen. See previous posts for details, if you want.
* 7 days ago we noticed a lot of bees on the outside, and since the weather was warming up, we added a couple supers and vented the top.

Here's the graph showing all the above events from the scale's point of view.

We've pretty much let them be since they swarmed. It takes a while for a new queen to hatch, mate, and start laying, and it takes about 10 days for eggs to become capped brood. Since it's been over 10 days since the old queen left, we know that if we saw any eggs or grubs today, we'd know for sure that there was a queen in the hive. No need to see the queen, just eggs or brood.

So today we inspected both hives. The original hive is now queenless - no eggs or brood. We did see some tiny 'emergency' queen cells, one of which had hatched. Not sure if that was recent, or if that queen will even be viable.

Since it was filled up with honey, we took 4 frames from it. Will have to be sure they don't totally fill the hive with honey before we can get a new queen going.

By the time we were done, they were mighty angry. At least that hive is still full of bees, so we're hoping it's not too late and we can turn things around.

On the other hand, the new hive has lots of brood and seems very happy. So that's good at least. The colony survives!

We decided our best bet is to buy a new queen for the old hive, since it'll take 2-3 weeks for them to make a new one, if we give them eggs/brood today. We may swap some brood frames over to the old hive once we put a new queen in, to keep their numbers up.


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