Do We Have A New Queen, Or What?

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I’ve been checking the girls today – the weather is lovely and warm and they are flying around all over the place, returning with lots of pollen and, hopefully, nectar.

We’ve been away for a couple of weeks and before we went, I fed them on about 5 pounds of honey and put a super on with last years frames – fresh (!) from extraction – in case the girls needed something to do while we were away. Unfortunately, due to being in a hurry and getting ever so slightly confused, I put the queen excluder above the super rather than below it. Sigh! Today, I rebuilt the hive correctly after checking that all was well in camp.

It seems that the queen has not moved up into the super anyway as there was no sign of laying in the super frames. This is good news, there is, however, a little honey in a couple of frames, so they seem to be getting on with things already!

Now we have (or had?) a red marked queen in our original swarm and this makes her 4 years old this year which, I’m told, is past her best. However, I didn’t see her at all today when I was inspecting the hive but we do have larvae in various stages of development from tiny little newly hatched ones up to lots of fully developed and capped over cells – so someone is laying. There are a few drones too, but not too many. So far, there is very little drone comb around. So we definitely have a queen doing the laying – but who?

I did see what I think was a queen bee – she looked different to the others and was certainly not a drone – wandering about over the comb, sticking her back end into vacant cells, pausing, then moving on – all of which is queen behaviour as far as I’m aware, but she wasn’t marked with a red spot.

I’m wondering if the swarm decided to re-queen all by themselves while we were away, or even before we went. Today was the first physical inspection we’ve made since spring as the weather has been pretty chilly and damp. The only opening of the hive we’ve done up till now has been to feed the girls.

I didn’t see anything that looked like an open queen cell on any of the comb or frames, so if they have re-queened, then I’ve got no idea where she came from! There was one large cell, open, on one frame, but it looked more like a drone cell than a queen cell. Confused? I certainly am!

So there you have it, bees don’t seem to need us humans as much as we seem to need them. We are still eating last years honey – Alison makes the finest honey flapjack in the world with nothing more than oats, honey and juicy sultanas – yum!

Varroa counts are low, I saw only a few when I did my count today, and it worked out at less than one per day over the last couple of weeks. I’m extremely suspicious of this, but gave them a dose of icing sugar anyway – just to be on the safe side.


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