Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disappearing Queen

Today it got up near 70 degrees F. Perfect weather for a thorough hive inspection. The numbers in my Italian hive have dropped dramatically. The last time I had that happen to a hive I found out they were queen-less. My Carniolan hive is bubbling over with bees. Today's plan is to harvest 4 frames of brood and a couple frames of food from the strong hive. Here is what I had to work with:

The hive in the middle are the Carniolans. To the right are the Italians and to the very left is a box for starting a brand new hive.

I went into the strong hive first. It was easy to harvest brood since the queen had filled up the top super with babies. I double and triple checked the frames I removed, trying to make sure I wasn't also removing the queen. I'm still not 100% positive I didn't. It's like a shell game. Which hive has the queen? The Carni hive looks great. I had to remove their usual oodles of drone comb from the top of the frames and I did not see a single varroa mite anywhere on the larva. That is very good news. At least I am doing something right. 

Then it was time to crack the Italian hive. I swear, that hive can't catch a break. First Nosema and now, as I suspected, they are without a queen. Where did she go? She was there not too long ago. I definitely saw brood when I inspected for the first time after the winter. Who knows what happened to her? And why didn't they just make a replacement? There are queen cups scattered all about the hive but none appears to have been capped. Again, who knows? My fingers are crossed that they will figure out how to make a queen from the 2 frames of brood I just gave them. I tried to buy a queen from Miller's Compound in Roy but she won't have mated queens for 2 weeks.

My last task of the inspection was to try and start up a third hive using 2 frames of brood and 2 frames of food (pollen and honey). That went into the box on the left. Here is what I had when I was finished:

Now to leave everyone alone and let nature take its course. I'll give them time to produce queens, get them mated and start producing brood. Then we will peek back in and see how things are going. I leave you with a picture of this young fella who got separated from his hive.

May all your hives be queenright!

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