When I give new beekeepers advice, I always recommend starting two hives if they are able. I’m really glad I followed my own advice this year because one hive is doing really well and the jury is still out on the other.
I installed both hives the afternoon of May 9th, 2020. I checked both hives on Thursday May 14th to see if the queens had been released. In one hive, the queen who will henceforth be named Queen Quarantine, was released and I refilled the feeder.
The second hive the queen had not be released and was dead in the cage.
I was able to get a new Queen the following Monday the 18th and got her installed. I’m going to call her Queen Calamity.
I checked both hives on Saturday May 23rd. I found Queen Quarantine and six out of the eight frames were drawn out with comb and eggs and larvae were present. They had also drained the feeder. Since a good majority of the frames were drawn out and Austin is also on a nectar flow, I added another 8 frames to the hive and refilled the feeder.
Queen Calamity’s hive is limping along. The good news is she was released and I found her in the hive. They had not drawn out a lot of comb probably due to being queenless for extended period of time. I did see eggs and some very young larvae which is consistent with a queen only being in the hive a short time. I also saw a few cells that had multiple eggs which is a sign of laying workers. Typically it is hard to come back once you get into a laying worker situation, but I’m going to give it a few days to give the new queen a chance. I also had emptied the feed and refilled since it had been in there for an extended time and I didn’t want it to start fermenting.
Next week’s inspection will be important. If Calamity’s hive is still lacking drawn comb and brood, I will most likely need to bite the bullet and combine with Quarantine to cut my losses. If it looks like she is turning it around, we will give her a chance and perhaps I will supplement with a frame from Quarantine to jump start brood production.
On April 7th, I did a late afternoon inspection of both my hives at Baab-Brock Farms. I first checked the hive I moved from Sunshine Community Gardens and found no evidence of a queen. No eggs, larvae or capped brood were present. I’m not sure what happened but without any eggs, the hive is unable to even make a new queen.
I then moved over to the queen eating hive that I attempted to requeen twice last year. The last queen was one sent from sunny Hawaii in late October in an attempt to chill out an aggressive hive. I actually found the queen very unexpectantly near the top of the hive, and it was not the marked queen I had dubbed “Aunty Lilikoi”. The hive was also more aggressive than from past inspections a few weeks back so I don’t know if the hive swarmed with my Hawaiian queen leaving me with a queen mated with the local drone population. Trying to find a queen in an aggressive hive is one of the least fun things a beekeeper will do, so I made the snap decision to remove her right then and there.
I now have two cordovan queens on the way which should arrive in the next day or two. Since I feel the location of my hives are in a AHB influenced area of Austin, having a queen that produces distinctive coloring on workers and drones will help be an early indicator that the queen has been lost or replaced.
I’ve bad been about updating since our return from Seattle, so a synopsis post is in order.
We did another honey harvest this past weekend with a super from Sunshine Community Gardens and a super from Rue in Baab-Brock Farms. I was pleased to see that the Sunshine honey was just that. Nothing weird about it although the light floral honey from early spring has now given way to the darker late summer honey.
Rue had 4 frames of good honey and 4 frames of the mystery honey. I finally got to the post office and mailed off a sample to A&M for analysis today so perhaps an answer is just a week or two away.
I am also planning on requeening Rue this weekend. This hive has gotten aggressive as of late, and one of the neighbors got stung (on her birthday no less). I don’t want another Large Marge experience so I’m taking the steps now to try and nip this problem in the bud. I’m anticipating a fun Saturday trying to find the old queen.