Well, the bees are up to no good again.
Clettwr, the stronger of our two colonies has been struggling. We found their queen dead at the bottom of the hive just over a month ago, but they had already started raising a new queen and had some queen cells on the go at that stage. We left them to it until they had sealed the queen cells, then left them with just a few before closing up the hive and leaving them for two weeks so that the queen could hatch and then go out on her mating flight.
We’ve checked on them a couple of times since then but there has been no signs of any eggs yet. We were hoping that the queen would have mated and started laying by now, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I did see what I thought was a new queen last week, but yesterday on our inspection we saw what could have been her but she was acting strangely and still there were no eggs.
It’s still possible that she hasn’t started laying yet but we are beginning to think that she is a non-starter. The only thing that gives us hope is the fact that the bees are so calm and quiet in there. If they were queenless then everyone seems to say that the bees would be very agitated and aggressive. Apparently they would be a nightmare to work with, but ours are quieter than ever. Admittedly the number of bees in the hive has reduced a little but when we inspect them they take no notice at all.
We are a little fed up with waiting for them to become queen-right though as we feel as though we should be doing something, so today we decided to take a frame containing some eggs from our other colony (Leri) and donate it to the queenless colony. We made sure we found the queen in Leri and then picked a frame without too much in the way of brood and placed it into Clettwr.
We aren’t hoping that they’ll be able to create a new queen from these eggs as they are now running short of time this summer and it will take another month before the new queen is reared, hatches, mates and starts laying, but the idea is to see if they feel that they are queenless. Well take a look in the hive in a couple of days and if they have started building emergency queen cells from these eggs then clearly they are queenless and we’ll have to intervene by introducing a new, mated queen.
Thankfully the other colony seems to be building up quite nicely and is now the stronger of the two colonies. Oh well, I suppose if they just did what they were supposed to do, then there wouldn’t be anything for us as beekeepers to do. It is supposed to be a hobby after all and the bees certainly seem to keep us on our toes.