And that’s a good thing 😊
— Guest Post by The Queen Bee, No longer.
I have been volun-told, moving forward, that I am now responsible for writing about what’s buzzing with the bees…
Anyway, after the SWARM-O-Ramma that happened last week we were feeling pretty discouraged. Half of our bee population had disappeared into the trees, and we were essentially starting from scratch. The only thing we could do was wait for 2 weeks to see if our newly born queens had survived, mated, and were laying eggs.
Here’s the thing. When we get our nucs (mini hives) from Scott in June, they come with four frames and a ‘marked’ queen. This means that the queen has already mated, she’s full of eggs and ready to lay. She literally has a dot on her, with the colour representing the year she was born. There are 5 colours used for a 5 year rotation, and the beekeeper that raises the queens marks them before selling the nuc. (I thought Scott was joking when he told me he grabs her by the wings and dots her with a special marker, but that’s literally how it’s done)
Now, when the queen is marked, it’s like a highlighted a word on a page – super easy to find (usually). When she’s not marked however, unless you’re trained for it, is like trying to find a real strand of hair buried in a wig.
I tried for what seemed like hours to find our queens to no avail. But for someone like Scott, it’s like looking for an elephant in a flat, open field. So I invited him over to our bee yard for a little game of Where’s Waldo – Queen Bee Edition.
Good news! Scott found all of them and 4 of the 5 were already laying. As we did our inspections I watched as he marked all of my queens and listened raptly as he educated me on all things bees and shared his expertise. When we got to my double hive box, despite them swarming, Scott said my ladies were flourishing and could potentially be split!
To split a hive you basically need to lay down a new foundation, take one box from my double hive, and add a new cover. Then all you need to do is put in a new queen and voila! You have a new hive!
But where do you get your new queen?
One of the frames in the hive had well developed queen cells that were almost mature. A new queen would hatch any day. So once we split the hive, we would just have to wait about 2 weeks for the new queen to hatch, emerge, mate, and start laying.
As you can see, our Bee Girl Scouts are always prepared and there are multiple queen cells as back up that are quite large and soon to hatch. If multiple queens hatch, they basically have a Queen Bee version of Fight Club. The first one out goes around and kills all the other ones, and if two hatch at the same time, they fight to be the last Queen Bee standing.
Special thanks to Scott Ferrier for being my personal bee coach and Queen finder.