Hive report: new queen bees

With Matthew approaching NC–or not so much–I’m still relieved to have the new queens tucked into the hives. This was not an experience that I really, really wanted right queens_frankie_20161006_124957now, but it was just thrust upon me.

As noted on my inspection on the 3rd of the month, I found both hives to be queenless–for unknown reasons. I suppose it was a little consolation to know that a couple other beekeepers in the area had found the same thing. The big question for me was what to do. While some beekeepers seem to swear by re-queening hives in the fall I thought this was a bit late to be a really good time to put in new queens. But not to do that was to condemn both hives. Not what a beekeeper likes to do.

After deliberation and contemplation, I called my local bee store (Bailey Bee Supply) to see if they still had queens. No such luck although I wasn’t surprised–as I said I don’t think beekeepers are doing much “re-queening” at this time of year unless it’s a necessity. Without local queens, I ordered two new queens from Rossman Apiaries (recommended by my local bee store).

The day started cool and sunny and my box of bees arrived late morning. So far so good. I lit the smoker (and it actually did stay lit for even longer than necessary) and headed for the hives with my little white box.

The ladies of the hive Rosmarinus were not particularly pleased to have me tearing off the roof, ripping up the ceiling, and generally messing about especially as this entailed as much shifting of brood boxes and supers to be sure I put the new queen in the optimal locations. While I was moving everything about I did all the shuffling necessary for preparing the hives for winter. (Note optimism here–I’m hoping this is successful and I’ll have this hive next spring.)  The new queen in her little cage with attendants was inserted between two frames in what I hope will be a brood box.

20161006_125908If you’re wondering–the queen bees are put into the hive in the cage to protect her until the workers of the hive accept her as the queen. Bees are not necessarily kind so the queen and the colony need to get used to each other–you can’t just pop a new queen into a colony of thousands of worker bees or she is likely to be killed. The white that you see at one of the queen cages is candy (sugar). Yep, sweet stuff that bees will eat. The worker bees of the hive will gradually eat away the candy  to expose an opening through which the queen can emerge into the hive and (I hope) do her thing! That whole process will take several days and during that time she will be secreting “queen pheromone” and (with luck) the hive will adopt her and take good care of her–and continue getting ready for winter.

This same process was repeated with hive Salvia–but by this time it was overcast, breezier–not prime time to skulk amongst the ladies.  These ladies were just a tad bit testier than usual but their hive is now also shuffled for winter as well as having a new queen “installed”. Makes her sound a bit like software, doesn’t it?

Now my anxious waiting starts–to see if the ladies of the hive and the new queens accept each other.  The waiting is not going to be easy–I’m anxious and curious because this will make the difference in having bees and not having bees.

Now battening down the hatches and hives. Although it looks as if Matthew may miss us it still looks as if we are in for rain for the next several days. I’m much relieved that the new queen bees are in the hives–those little travel cages were not meant for long-term residence.