Joy is the oldest, so let's go to her first. She's just finished her second winter and that is getting pretty old for a honeybee queen. They can live as long as four years, but generally two is tops. Joy has a nice strong laying pattern and a fair number of larvae coming up. I didn't see many tiny larvae so that had me a but concerned. What really concerned me was that these bees were jumpy. So I looked carefully through the hive and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a tiny swarm cell with a princess inside. Joy is going to be leaving and taking bees with her and a new baby will be out soon. This hive has had Hope and Joy as queens. Any suggestions on the new queen's name?
Sun is about two weeks younger that Joy and she has a nice laying pattern too. Not quite as strong, but there is little evidence of swarming and they are building cells nicely on the foundation I gave them. This hive had the oldest, ugliest frames, so I switched them out and gave them the next best ones I had so in the end, they got four new frames.
I don't think Ruby has a clue what to do. She is a young queen and started out this spring looking good - nice laying pattern and lots and lots of brood. Well, now things have changed. She's a mess. Her laying pattern is patchy. So I was not entirely surprised to see a supercedure cell being started - this means the bees think she needs replacing. It wasn't complete but I marked the frame and will go check in a few days. They also had a ton of queen cups. This is just the start of a swarm cell but they were all dry and empty.
I would prefer a supercedure of a queen over a swarm. With a swarm you not only loose a queen but a bunch of your most experienced bees as well. A swarm can set you back nearly seven weeks, and a supercedure maybe four weeks.
It is shaping up to be a dramatic spring around here.
While there is a lot of drama going on, I did put people honey frames out. No idea what that's going to do for the bees, but just in case they feel like putting up some honey, they have room.