Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chaos! and some Shakespeare(ish)

I was expecting something to be "up" after last week's inspection but what Dave and I found was more than a little bit interesting.... Last week Dave's old hive looked as though it was getting swarmy, so I was expecting to see some action here.  I was also half expecting my own hive to be doing stuff as well, but I was not sure what...

Hive 1: Dave's old hive.  As I said, I was expecting this to be swarmy and I arrived prepared to do an Artificial Swarm on it - expecting to find open queen cells. However, Dave and I found just a single closed Queen Cell in the hive (and we looked hard for others).  We also looked everywhere but didn't see a queen.  There appeared to be a lot of bees around so had they swarmed?.

Action?  I consulted my old mentor Eugene in Missour.  He thought it odd that there was just one cell, but that could be a supersedure where the bees only found one larvae the right age. It could also signal problems with the queen or he thought that maybe it's an old cell and the pupa is dead. We decided to leave this alone, especially as there was larvae in the hive.  Do Nothing!!!

Hive 2:  The hive I combined a few weeks back.  As I said, I was half expecting to do something here but inevitably we found more than we expected; a couple of open Queen Cells.  Fortunately I came to the apiary prepared to do an Artificial Swarm (only on Hive 1) so when Dave and I found the uncapped queen cells we changed our plans and did it on this hive instead.  All very easy and straightforward - once we found the queen - twice!

So we put the old queen in a new box of foundation with some food, and added the old supers above a Queen Excluder.  So this is still Hive 2.  The old hive that has the brood and open queen cells in it, we will move this during the week in order to keep the swarming urge suppressed.  This is now Hive 4.

Hive 3:  The caught swarm - about 2 weeks old.  We found the queen and a capped queen cell in this hive (2 weeks after catching it!), as well as brood and larvae (at about the same stage of development) both in the supers above and in the deep below a Queen Excluder!  I was, and remain, mystified by this!  Dave and I both thought the Queen looked too big to have crossed the QE.  Action?  Contact Eugene!

Eugene had heard of people catching swarms containing more than one queen - this was a very large swarm if you remember - but in this case they were both virgins. Oops!  I quoted him on that when he didn't want to be!

Our original thought (and Eugene's) was just to leave this for a couple of weeks and see what happens.  It's all very curious and I think time will sort things out.  There's the potential bonus of having a 2-Queen hive and the additional honey that can produce!


I'm reminded of a quote from Tom Stoppard's "Shakespeare in Love"...  Seems appropriate... my apologies for the hack...

Mentor Beekeeper...allow me to explain about the beekeeping business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.

Me... So what do we do?

Mentor Beekeeper... Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

Me... How?

Mentor Beekeeper...  I don't know. It's a mystery.

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