Last couple of visits
Last sunday my mentor, Tim, came to visit my hives to make sure everything was ok.
I got to use the smoker for the first time on my hives…this warns the bees that you are about to visit. When they smell smoke (as in a forest fire) their instinct is to gorge on honey to prepare for leaving the hive. This preoccupies them while opening the hive.
Well, the hive that I was concerned about, #2, concerned Tim as well. At first he was able to see eggs, which is a good sign…but then he noticed a supercedure cell that the workers were preparing. This is a cell of wax (looks like a peanut shell) that the worker bees build for rearing a new queen. They do this if something is wrong with the existing queen. We left the supercedure cell alone and continued on a search for larvae and visual of the queen. Nada. Plus there were instances of TWO eggs in a single cell. Not good…this means that a worker bee has taken it upon herself to lay eggs, thinking she is the queen. These eggs are drone (male) eggs only and if a new queen doesn’t show up soon, the hive is doomed.
Words of advice from my mentor were to return in a couple of days to look for the queen, eggs, larvae/capped brood.
Well, today I visited again…none of those criteria were found in hive #2. Only saw more instances of single and double eggs and then cells where there were just PILES of eggs. A real queen would not do this. I saw no larvae or capped brood, which should be there if the hive is developing properly. I left the supercedure cell in place with hopes that a strong queen will emerge and rectify the hive. If this doesn’t happen, I am sure Tim will walk me down that path…which could include letting the hive die and starting all over (with a swarm that he catches from being on the swarm list) or trying to exclude the laying worker with various techniques…and introducing a new queen.
Just for comparison I opened up hive #1. This hive is looking lovely. Eggs, Larvae, capped brood. It is on its way. The bees seemed to make more sense in this hive…I dont know how to explain it but they acted more normally than hive #2.
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