Was reassured by 2 experienced beekeepers that it can be 3 or 4 weeks before a new queen is mated and starts laying. Sure enough, when I checked the hive on the 15th July, there were at least 4 frames of capped brood. This means she probably started laying about 3 weeks after she emerged.
Have taken advice and put on another brood box, a super and some sugar syrup. The idea is to encourage the bees to draw out all the foundation and to lay down some stores of honey for the winter. Come Spring I can take one of the brood boxes to make a new hive. Having 2 hives makes things easier to manage.
Just downloaded the August edition of the beekeeping magazine, Beecraft. It included a link to this amazing video ‘More Than Honey’ which shows, in high definition video, how a queen is mated.
Thirteen days after having seen that lovely new queen on the beehive, we inspected the hive with high hopes of seeing eggs and larvae. The bees were tetchy, a lot of drones still around and still plenty of workers but sadly, no eggs or larvae and no sign of the queen.
Just had the last session of an intermediate course in beekeeping this afternoon. We marked drones and clipped their wings to get some practice for doing the same with queens.
My bees made it through the Winter – with the help of feeding. The queen was doing her stuff and by mid May the hive was looking quite healthy with quite a lot of brood, pollen and nectar. You can see the marked queen on the right.
However, when we inspected the hive at the beginning of June there were loads of drone cells and quite a few drones. On 3rd June we found three queen cells and no sign of the queen. Closed the hive and waited!
On the 14th and 15th June I heard a new queen ‘piping’ and managed to record it on my phone.
New queen bee sitting on the hive roof.
This strange sound alerts workers and any other queens not yet emerged that there is a new queen in the hive. On 17th June I was lucky enough to spot the new queen sitting on top of the hive. She was easy to spot with her spidery legs, slender waist and long abdomen. She did a couple of short flights around the hive and returned to the same spot. The other bees showed no interest in her.
I’m hoping that she has now mated successfully but I’ll leave the hive undisturbed for a while and check for eggs in a week or so.
Workers and drone
There have been a lot of drones hanging around the hive and the workers have been behaving oddly – sitting about in small groups. You can see a small group of workers here and a single, much larger drone on the left.
I’m hoping that the new queen has seen off the competition and that the bees won’t swarm.