Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Queen Successes and Accomplished Goals!

Back in April of this year one of our large hives decided to swarm days before they were "technically" supposed to. If I've learned but one thing being a beekeeper, it would have to be, never, ever assume anything, especially about honeybees! They are on their schedule not ours and I don't care what the books say....our girls have NOT read any of them!LOL I have seen them pull and cap a queen cell within three days! I have pictures of one below. No....I did not over look it, they needed a queen and they were going to have a queen! Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself.
This first picture is the swarm hive we caught back in April. It is ready to split, these girls are remarkable! Even with them splitting themselves in April, we have harvested honey from them!
Unfortunately this little hive below, which was the remains of the swarm, struggled. They tried to raise their own queens but kept losing them. They were robbed several times, so I moved them into a nuc box and my husband helped me relocate them. So far they have done very well.
In my post "Expectations and Surprises" (July 21,2010) I talked about a different hive that has three queens. Well, I was excited to know that I had "stand by" queens. I went into the hive and not really wanting to "choose" which queen of the two daughters I wanted to place in the small, queenless hive we just moved.....I decided that, other than the Queen Mother, the first Queen Daughter, that I came to first, would be the queen of the nuc hive. (I hope that made sense to you).....I found the Mother Queen first, but I didn't want to take her from the hive. Even though I love all of our Queen Bees...I have to say I was a little delighted that this one was was the first one I found.....the "Wingless" Queen!! Well, actually she has one side of her wings, she's a lefty, her right side was chewed off before she hatched, but she made it! And I've been rooting for her ever since! She's a strong queen, she's already proven that by beating the odds of survival.
Here she is....this is what she was doing when I found her...she was on the frame next to the Mother Queen....the next two pictures below you can see her with her abdomen down inside a cell, she was busy laying eggs. Can you pick her out?....She's the one towards the right side of the picture with "Nurse bees" all around her.

I have never caught a queen to put into a different hive before......we've just always let them raise their own queen, but hey! WE have a hive with three and the "Little hive" needed a queen fast.
We had an old queen box, that we got a couple of years ago when (the first and last time) we bought a queen. My husband came up with the bright idea of using a funnel of some sort to get the queen and a few nurse bees into the tiny hole in the candy queen box. It worked really good! I was also thankful that it was the "wingless" queen I was working with, because she would have flown away during this was NOT as easy as it seemed!

She's in!

The anticipation was driving me crazy! I did wait for two days then I just had to see if they accepted her.......they did!!!! Can you see her? Her abdomen is larger and she's up at the top
Here she is again, you can see her left wing.......I'm so happy she's doing so well...even our Griff is happy!!
Now..see this picture below?? See that lump??? It's a queen cell, now when we moved the little nuc to their new location, I took two frames of eggs and c-cells from the hive I got the queen from.....I brushed all of the bees off and there was NO queen cell anywhere on those frames! This is three days later when I checked on the "wingless" queen. Three days! The books say 14-16 days! This just goes to show you determination.....So, that's okay, we have two hives that need to be split and we can use this queen to put in one of them! I love how this works ;)

Waiting on a meal......(thank you Ms. Nature Nut!)
On guard!
This is a very small split that I started for a friend. He makes us boxes and such and we trade him bees.....I placed a few frames of eggs, queen cells and nurse bees in a nuc, I made a "spacer" to block off the rest of the box so they wouldn't have to much to defend.....I new their queen had hatched and wanted to check them out. I also wanted to check my courage out....a goal I've been wanting to make for myself...going into the bees without any "protection". No veil, no gloves, no bee suit.....I did it!!!!!

I did it!! I was nervous, and I'm not sure I could have done it, if it hadn't have been a small hive, but I accomplished a goal that I wasn't so sure I would ever do! I now have a little more confidence to do it again, BUT I do know I would NOT ever go into our large hives with this confidence and without protection! LOL....Well.........;)
Until next time....


  1. You never cease to amaze me! I just LOVE that the little "Wingless" Queen was the one you got to work with! I am rooting for her! I also love how all those nurse bees are being so attentive to her. It just makes my heart swell. And how about you working on a hive without protection??? I never got that brave.

    I asked Bernie to pull out a couple of old hives for me to paint this fall. You've inspired me, and I'm going to TRY and be as artistic as you are. Although that's not likely..... but I think cleaning up hives and getting them ready will be a motivation for us to get new bees this spring and start over. I'm really excited.

    You are awesome cuz! I just love seeing everything you are doing.

    I love you,

  2. Oh, Penny! I'm excited for you too! I was brave only because it's a small hive. But we do have a few hives that are that gentle and I think I may give it a go, I just wanted to try out these girls first just to see if I could do it....
    You are so creative that I'm sure you'll surpass anything I did as far as artistic! I can't wait to see what you come up with, I'm sure it will be awesome!
    I'm so excited that you are wanting to get back into the bees. I wish we lived closer I'd share with ya!
    Love you Cuz!