Thursday, April 24, 2014

Find the queen: Saint Valentine edition

Yesterday was a week into our new colony’s life. We’ve been observing the bees entering and exiting the hive. (There’s a lot more of this in the Saint Valentine hive than in the Saint Benedict hive.) But not till today have I noticed any saddle-bags on the workers of either hive.

But yesterday was too cold to open up the hives. Today the high was in the sixties, but unfortunately, as it turned out, I waited a bit too long in the afternoon to open up the hive.

I opened up the Saint Valentine hive, and saw that the burr comb on the inner cover had grown to enormous proportions, and was covered with bees.

I systematically removed the frames of the lower body, but saw no queen, nor any evidence of rice-like eggs in the comb, nor even much comb activity in the frames.

In the burr comb on the inner cover we saw pollen, lots and lots of bees and honey, but no queen. We removed this bur comb and set it outside of the hive.

After all this activity, there were bees everywhere, so once again we decide to put off the Saint Benedict hive until tomorrow. By this time, the temperature had dropped below 55, so we scooped up bees lying on the ground and dumped them into the upper deep body.

(At this point, both of our hives consist of two deeps, with a feeder bucket in the upper deep, and 10 frames in the lower deep.)

We wait an hour and open up the Saint Benedict hive. Everything there looks much neater. Little burr comb. Plenty of uncapped honey. Plenty of pollen. But we did not see the queen, and we saw no "rice grains" nor larvae.

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