Monday, May 4, 2009

A Queenless Day

Yesterday was the first day so far this spring that I did not see any of the three queens. Sigh. I did see very very tiny larvae in both Red and Hope's hives - so they are doing their job and were on those frames within the last three to five days. Trey's bees were bringing in pollen like crazy and the only reason for pollen in a hive is to feed babies!

On a shocking note, I found supercedure cells in Hope's hive. This means the bees are planning to replace her. I put a second box on for them last week and they have started packing it full of honey and pollen. Before anyone gets excited, that would be for bee-use only. I was hoping to put a people honey box, or super, on Hope's hive. Once I saw the supercedure cells, I thought better of it.

Supercedure cells are placed on the wax comb facing downward. The queen either lays in the cell or an egg is moved there by worker bees. The cell is larger than regular baby bee cells and the queen eggs are feed royal jelly their entire larval-hood.

Why would they want to replace her? She might be injured. They may not like her rather artistic laying patters (oval with honey in the middle rather than the traditional half moon with honey in the corners), or she might not produce enough royal pheromone to permeate two supers. Only the bees actually know for sure. And they aren't telling.

Trey's bees are ... frisky. They are not following me and I've yet to be stung by any of them. I don't want to be a fearful beekeeper again nonetheless, her hive puts me there instantaneously with their dark color and the frequency of their buzz. I am determined to shake that feeling and be braver than I think I am.

I did try a new idea I'd heard about at the beekeeper's meeting on Saturday. After smoking Trey's bees and hearing them buzz in way that made me nervous, I tried spraying them with some sugar water. WOW. This worked to instantly calm them. It was great! I shall try that first next time with that hive.

The bee inspector is planning on visiting, for the second time this season. He's going to help evaluate Red's hive. I am considering firing her and getting a new queen or adding some bees and larvae from one of the other hives to boost her numbers. Her bees are so laid back they may not supercede her even if means the death of the colony.

I am in for another exciting and tumultuous year beekeeping. But on a bright note, my smoker stayed lit.


  1. This sounds so interesting! How long will it take the bees to replace Hope?

  2. It looks like they are going to keep her... for now. I gave them some frames that were just foundation and just like a house, you build out a foundation. In the bees' case, they build cells out of wax from their bodies. I am hopeful that they will move on from thoughts of rebellion to the work of building!


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