Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There BEE drama in our hive!

There is so much drama going on in our hive right now I don't know where to start. 

A couple weeks ago we saw that the bees were making queen cells but we did not cut them out because if they were making them then they probably had a purpose. I was really nervous because we both loved our queen. She was so good and she was laying up a storm. There was always fresh brood (bee larva) and our population was exploding.

This is a picture of a queen cell or queen cup. It looks different then the other cells because they are larger than normal brood comb and are oriented vertically instead of horizontally

The lower picture is what a queen looks like in the development stages. 

This past weekend, before we left for my sister in laws wedding, we went to check on our bees... The queen was gone and there was no fresh brood. Plus there was eight capped queen cells (meaning the hive had created 8 new queens.) We called our master keeper right away and told him what we saw. He said "uh oh not good." This is not what you want to hear as beginning beekeepers. He said that he would come the following week after the wedding. 

So Nick and I went on with our weekend (amazing wedding by the way) and meet with the master keeper on Tuesday. He looked in our hive and within two seconds he said your queen is gone :( Now I know she is just a bee but for any of you that are beekeepers or could possibly relate it sucked big time to hear that. We inspected the hive further to see two of the queen cells were opened and the queens had emerged. My first reaction was "Are we going to have eight queens? Because that's a lot of queens in one hive." Mike said that when the other two queens emerged (probably a day or two ago) they stung all the developing queens and killed them in their cells. Wow, queens are ruthless!! I am telling you there is major drama in our hive! He said that the other two queens that had emerged were on their marriage flight and would be back in a day or two.

The marriage flight is where the queen bee flies off accompanied by several drones. She will mate with these drones (male bees) in the air and the queen will store all the viable sperm in her body that she will need for her whole life span. She can live for up to 5 years which is much longer then any other bee. Worker bees (female only live for 4 to 6 weeks and Drones only live for about 50 days. (little side note only females have stingers).  

While we were inspecting the hive we noticed there was a massive amount of bees. More then we have ever seen in the hive. We also noticed that there was a lot less honey and Mike said that when the queen leaves they gorge themselves on honey. 

After the inspection Mike asked us why we thought the queen left. Nick guessed it was because we had too many bees and not enough room and he was right. The queen left with some bees to create a new hive, in other words she swarmed. Mike also told us that they were not getting enough food from the area where we had them and they would have to be moved. 

We are moving the hive tomorrow and making the hive larger by adding more suppers and frames. We wanted to start a whole new hive but its a little too late in the season for them to build comb and make enough honey to last them throughout the winter. 

I will keep you posted on how it turns out and all the latest bee drama. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I love honey, but I never knew how intense the process was. And this is only a tiny peek. I look forward to reading more!