Panic over

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One of the frames of capped brood

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.

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Queenless?

Brood Frame

Brood Frame June 2013

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.

How long before all is lost?

A new Queen

Queen with whire dot on thorax

Queen with white dot on thorax

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 on hive roof

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

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.

Will keep you posted!

Marking the queen

Finding the queen

Finding the queen

John the bees came a few weeks ago to check on progress and mark the queen for me. When we opened the hive we found the bees were doing very nicely. Lots of healthy brood (eggs and larvae), lots of stores of honey and pollen.

We needed to find and mark the queen. Marking the queen makes it easier to see her when you are checking the hive in spring and summer to make sure she is present and laying and to distinguish her from any new queen that may have appeared. Five different colours are used to show the age of the queen (important if you have several hives)

marking the queen bee

Marking the queen bee

year ending in 5 or 0 – blue
year ending in 1 0r 6 – white
year ending in 2 or 7 – yellow
year ending in 3 or 8 – red
year ending in 4 or 9 – green

John marked the queen and clipped her wings. If they swarm next year, the queen won’t get very far and the bees stay with her. They’ll be easy to find – just under the hive – so easy to collect.

Apiguard treatment

Now is the time to start treating the hive against Varroa mite. This mite has been causing havoc. in bee colonies.  It carries a number of viruses and our bees have little resistance to it. So, it’s out with the chemical weapons, more specifically, thymol. A tray of thymol in a gel is placed in the hive for 4 weeks to kill the mites. We did this and closed up the hive.