Friday, July 1, 2011

Lost queen

The other day I began seeing what looked like pellets on the bottom board, the web said it could be wax moth droppings or desiccated bee larva from chalk brood.  I also saw two small hive Beatles, one of which I killed, the other has gone missing.  I decided that I needed to investigate the hive, so I planned on opening it.  I haven't been pleased with the production of the queen and amount of comb that should have been built, so the agenda was to open the hive, transfer all the frames to my octagonal hive and do a thorough inspection in the process.

I gathered all the tools and tables and began disassemblage of the nuc box.  It had been sitting upon my hive and except for use as an overnight space, the bees never started to build in it.  As I pulled each frame I would inspect it for moths, beetles and chalk brood, first thing on each was finding the queen so I could capture her and put her back when all was finished.  The comb was to be removed from each frame, cut to length and width to match my box and the tied to my top bar, finally to be placed back in my hive.  Simple.  Upon opening the top, I was amazed at how little brood there was, and it was scattered all over.  One frame was completely empty of anything.  Most comb was honey bound, showing signs of a failing queen.  There should have been a couple of supercedure cells but there were no eggs to be found for the bees to use for making the new queen.  Without help the hive was doomed.  I slid the knife in to cut the comb and found plastic foundation, what a mess.  Off to the the garage to get a saw.  I cut out the comb with the saw but without squishing the comb, could not cut it to length or width, so off to the garage to get the tin snips,  (all this time the bees are buzzing up a storm), I got stung six times, the little shits deserve to die.  The snips worked out great.  I hunted methodically for the queen but could not find her, although I know she was somewhere in there.  I completed the whole mess in about an hour.  I restacked all the boxes and cleaned up the mess, leaving the extra comb for the bees to clean out.  Later in the evening I went back out to check. They were building new comb already, what a change.  The next morning, (they were in mourning) not a bee would leave the nest.  Bees were everywhere, under, over and all through the hive.  In my enthusiasm to change the hives, I had done the inevitable, I KILLED THE QUEEN.  An Internet search found one person 2 hrs away who had one, hurrah.  Tomorrow its trip time again. 

The inside of the hive is visibly changing each day as the bees make improvements over the clumsily hanging comb, but most are just hanging around, literally.

1 comment:

  1. Pete, now I am dying to find out what happens next. What a bumber that you lost your Queen, but it really sounds like you needed a replacement Queen anyway. How long before you know if they have excepted the new Queen.