Saturday, June 27, 2009

Inspection 6-27-09

This is the first inspection I've made since after the hive swarmed. I wasn't sure what I'd find, or what to expect. The picture above is when I opened up to the top brood box - not too many bees sitting on top (to be expected, since about 1/2 of them left a couple of days ago). My main purpose in the inspection was to look for the queen, or look for evidence of her work (i.e. newly laid eggs).

When I inspected each of the top frames, almost all of them had a queen cell on the bottom! Take a look at these:

Those little peanut-shaped things hanging down from the bottom of the frame are queen cells. They were closed up which means each of them has an incubating queen bee. I must have seen around 10 of them in all. By seeing them I now know that the swarm took off before the replacement queen was born. Here's what will happen next: in the next few weeks one of those queen cells will hatch a queen bee. Then she will proceed to kill off the other queen cells which may not yet have hatched (survival of the fittest). If 2 or more queens are born simultaneously, then they fight it out (one of the few times the queen bee will use her stinger).

Then she will take a mating flight and, after a couple of days of drunken debauchery (which results in the death of the male bees - bummer!), she will return and start laying eggs.

I also saw some frames of both capped and uncapped brood:

This is good, since that means at least for the next couple of weeks some new bees will be born. Also notice in the upper right corner some capped honey.

Speaking of honey, one of the things bees do before swarming is suck up a lot of the honey and take it with them (sort of like your high school student raiding the fridge before going to a party). I had a couple of frames with about 1/2 filled honey, and sure enough, a lot of that was missing. So that means more space for the bees remaining to re-fill with nectar.

Once again the bees were doing nothing with the top honey super, so I went ahead and took it off. Also, I think I'm going to start feeding the bees again, and I can't do that with a super on it. I have some Spearmint and Lemongrass Oil on order, and I'll add that to the sugar syrup (it stimulates the hive) later.

One of the problems hives suffer from is mites. They (literally) suck the life out of a bee larvae. Mites prefer drone cells because they are larger, and they stay capped more. So I added a special drone frame to the hive. You can click on the link to see how it is used. I've never seen any mites, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

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