Her Majesties each arrive in individual palaces, with a large picture window and a couple of eager attendants. That's not a smokestack protruding to the left, that's a plug of candy that the bees chew on from each end to release the queen into her new colony. Pretty clever huh?Hubby ordered 5 new queens this year which means that the 5 biggest hives will be split into two, and the new queen added to the split. Once the queens arrive you can't waste any time in getting them in their new quarters; these ladies have already travelled from Hawaii and are more than ready to set up housekeeping in their new land.
Some of the hives are really over-full and the bees have been busy this week building all kinds of silly burr comb on every free surface they could find.
Adding the new queen is quite simple: hubby pokes a hole in the sugar to allow some light and then just places the queen cage in between two frames in the hive. The bees will take care of the rest. Next week we will go back and remove those empty cages.
The hard part is finding the existing queen in the hive, as you don't want to mistakenly have 2 queens in one hive and none in the new split. It's a tedious, slow job to go through each frame looking for the queen. This hive below we went through 4 times before we found her.We knew she was there, as there were lots of eggs and brood in the hive. The frame below shows capped brood cells in an exceptionally uniform pattern. This shows the work of a very good, efficient queen. A poor queen will leave an egg here and there all over the place, with no rhyme nor reason.
I am not very good at spotting the queen; unlike the other bees who mill around a bit, she moves quickly and with purpose from one frame to the next. Finally, hubby spotted her. Can you see her too?Two days later, we have 18 happy, healthy hives ready to head to blueberry blossoms next weekend.