Thursday, May 19, 2011

Queen Me

When I took my beekeeping class with the Central Ohio Beekeeping Association (COBA), I was told if you ask four beekeepers the same question you will get six answers. Last night at the COBA beeyard at Ohio State, I asked what to do about my problem hive #2.
  • I was advised to let nature take its course and if my workers want to make a new queen, let them. and then let the bees choose which queen will rule the hive.
  • I was advised to requeen.
  • I was advised to take a frame of brood from my super duper hive #1 and move it to hive #2.
  • I was advised not to move a frame.
Beekeepers seem to belong to a helpful community. One of the established beekeepers, John, asked where I keep my bees and offered to come have a look.

I called John this morning and in no time he was on his way to Worthington from Plain City. He gave me a much needed lesson in lighting the smoker and we headed to my beeyard. We gave hive #2 some calming puffs of smoke and had a look inside. There were more drowned bees in the feeder, but not too many. There were signs that new bees have been emerging. That's a good thing. We looked and looked but could not find the queen, so we looked some more. And then we started over, frame by frame, looking for but not finding her. John believes the queen is gone--that either she died or the workers threw her out.

We examined the three queen cells. Only one had an egg, indicating that the queen had been there in the last three days. We saw some larvae, but very few eggs. Not good. A good queen lays about 1,000 eggs per day.

John's advice: if I could locate one, requeen with an Ohio queen, destroy the queen cells, don't move a frame of brood.

I called one of the COBA members who grafts (creates) queens and she has one. So I will be off to German Village tomorrow morning to get my new queen. Those of you who know this city understand how appropriate this is!

John will return tomorrow to help me install the new Ohio queen and make sure my original queen is gone.

Of course we took a look into the other two hives. The girls in hive #1 are doing an incredible job tending to the nursery. Brood is emerging and they are storing honey. I found the queen, which I had been unable to do the last two inspections. Hive #1 gets a gold star! Hive #3, the newbees, is also coming right along. Those workers are very busy drawing out comb and while we looked for the queen, we didn't see her. We know she's there, though, because there are lots of eggs. I got smart and took a magnifier out with me, so I finally got to see eggs. They are very tiny so it's going to take some practice for these old eyes to find them.

While John was here, my friend Wendy came over to see the bees. Lucky Wendy got to come close and watch us examine the hives.

Stay tuned; I will probably write another entry tomorrow about how the requeening went. The weather forecast is for a nice day. I would appreciate that, and I know my bees would, too.

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