Time To Split, Maybe?
Things have been going well with the bees lately. Both the Blue and Brown hive at home have rebounded from their winter clusters and their populations are increasing at a phenomenal rate. Foragers for both hives are bringing back an abundance of brightly colored pollen to provide for the growing hive. This also means this is the prime time for swarming. 1 week ago at inspection I noticed quite a few queen cups on the bottom corners of about 8 different frames. There were no eggs or larvae in the cups and there were no drones on the frames. Although there were many drones just emerging from their cells I thought is still was a little to early for them to swarm. Last year I missed the queen cells
and the bees swarmed
[caption id="attachment_761" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Lots of bees April 14"]
About 2 weeks ago the bee population started to increase rapidly, so to possibly prevent them from swarming a medium box was added on top the 2 supers. In the medium I place a few frames of partially drawn frame and some wax damaged drawn frames. The bees did a great job of cleaning up some of the frames but I was very surprised to find these, what looks like supersedure queen cells!
[caption id="attachment_766" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Supercedure cells?"]
I removed this frame and a couple others replacing them with empty frames with the thought that it would give the workers something to do and not think about swarming. The other reason was that it looked so amazing!
[caption id="attachment_765" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Supercedure closeup"]
This Saturday was another great day for opening the hive. I wanted to make sure that the queen cells that were spotted last week were not being used. There was a bit of excitement as we would get to see the first foundationless frame in the hive. I could not believe how much the bees had built on the popsicle sticks inserted in the groove meant for the foundation. I am so amazed, whats not to love about bees!
[caption id="attachment_759" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="foundation-less frame"]
The cells that the bees have made are Drone cell size and they are big. Pretty sure that foundationless frames means you will get a lot of drones. Philip at Mud Songs had an interesting time trying to have a foundationless hive.
Looking closer a this photo you can see eggs! Click on the image and look on the right hand side of the frame.
[caption id="attachment_764" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="foundation-less frame"]
Continuing the inspection several queen cup/cells had eggs in them and few had larvae floating in the milky royal jelly. The fact that there was plenty of drones in the hive and it would be 2 weeks at least before the new queen would emerge the decicion was made to do a split. In a swarm control split the queen is removed from the hive and placed in another hive or Nuc box along with nurse bees, some eggs and brood, honey and pollen. The original hive now has to raise a new queen from the queen cells. Hopefully the bees in both hives think there was a swarm and things progress well in the new hive with the old queen and the old hive with the new queen. Emily from Adventuresinbeeland and Emma at Miss Apis Mellifera can tell you all about trying to find a Queen in the midst of tens of thousands of small quickly moving insects. It is not an easy task so it helps if you have an extra set of eyes. My wife was the one that spotted her. she was much lighter than the other queens in the other hives. The frame was placed one of the two 5 frame Nuc boxs along with frames of pollen, honey/nectar, open brood. A total of 7 frames were taken out of the 20 deep, 10 medium frame hive. The frames taken out were replaced with frames with foundation and a few frames of partially drawn comb. After sealing the nucs and putting them in the van, it was off the garden approximately 4.5 km away drive away
[caption id="attachment_762" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="2nd hive at Still Creek"]
This is the only picture of the installation of the split, I need to work on taking more pics. Things went well, a single frame feeder and 2 undrawn frames with foundation were added to the 7 frames from the Nuc boxes. There were a lot of bees flying around the hive but within about 15 minutes they were all in the hive. Of course in the rush to get to the garden (driving in my bee suit with at least 10 thousand bees in 2 little boxes) I forgot the entrance reducer. You can see in the picture one of the many uses of duct/gaffers tape. I did return on Sunday afternoon with the entrance reducer and the bees were busy with many foragers returning with pollen sacs full. Stoked!
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