It’s been two weeks since I added the honey super. Unfortunately, the day that Andrea was here to help, Marc was busy and not available to film us, so there is no video. Plus, we were so completely absorbed in our task of doing a thorough inspection of the colony that I didn’t even think to take pictures along the way. The inspection went well: we found the queen, still with her blue dot; we found drones; and we even found a queen cell, a sign that the colony was feeling the lack of space. We removed the queen cell in an attempt to keep them from getting any ideas about swarming.

Once a colony is out of space, they begin making preparations to swarm and the first step in that process is to make a new queen, which requires a particular type of cell since the queens are a larger bee. I tend to think that an important part of beekeeping is to manage swarming, if at all possible, particularly because I live in a residential neighborhood where random swarms flying around may not be welcome. So I want to stay on top of their swarming shenanigans. A swarm also results in the colony splitting: the majority of the foragers leave with the old queen to find a location where they start anew. This potentially weakens both colonies since those who swarm have to start from scratch with building comb and storing resources, and those who stay behind keep the resources on hand but need to rear a new queen before egg-laying and more workers are produced. While the colony is strong now, particularly from where we started less than a year ago, I would prefer to not split them yet. The question is whether or not the bees agree with me.

I decided to check them again a week after adding the honey super to see if more queen cells had been produced and to see if they had moved into the honey super. This time, I did video myself (inspection). As you will see in the video, the hive is filled with bees on every frame. There were even festooning bees, which is where they make something like a chain holding onto one another. Towards the end of the video, there are two frames where I did not close the space correctly and the bees connected the combs between them, which makes it difficult to remove those two frames. I tried to, but noticed that I was damaging the comb and so I stopped so as to not make more work for them or potentially harm the queen should she have been on one of those two frames. Unless the queen cells are on those last two frames, the colony seems to have accepted my additional space and are no longer looking to swarm. I plan to keep a close eye on them over the next few weeks to be sure all is going to plan. I am prepared with a second hive setup just in case they do continue towards swarming, but I would prefer to add a second honey super and keep this colony strong rather than splitting it, at least for this year.

Festooning bees highlighted in blue