Archives for posts with tag: queen

I decided last Monday was a great day to open the hive and check the progress on the remaining four frames. I had invited a friend and her young son to join me since she had expressed interest. In the process I learned a few things:

  1. I get really excited sharing what I’m learning about beekeeping, especially with youngsters who are so curious about them. This is mostly a good thing, but it does take more time and the hive is open longer, which does not make for happy bees. In the future, I’ll plan a reduced inspection when guests are present to minimize everyone’s stress.
  2. When the buzz volume increases, this is the bees giving a gentle warning to wrap things up quickly. Choose to disregard this warning at your own risk. I did not heed their warning and was stung on the hand.
  3. By Tuesday afternoon the swelling was such that my knuckles were no longer visible and I had to leave work from the discomfort in my hand coupled with a splitting headache. I used two homeopathic remedies (Apis and Ledum) and a bit of honey, but my reactions seem to be getting more severe than the first two times I was stung and something stronger was required. I’ll be keeping Benadryl on-hand going forward. It’s a miracle worker for bringing the reaction under control; the swelling started subsiding within an hour of ingestion. Thank you, Western pharmaceuticals!
  1. My friend, who had been standing about 10 to 15 feet away, was also stung, right at the time when I located the queen. In my concern about my friend, who had a couple bees in her hair when I looked over at her, I put the frame back into the hive rather hastily without paying close attention to the queen’s whereabouts at that moment. Normally, that might not be a big concern, but when I had spotted her she was towards the top heading in the general direction of the outer edge where she was at greater risk when the frame was slid into place. When I later went to find her again to show her to my friend’s son, I couldn’t find her, sending me into a panic that she’d somehow been squished and leading to me rechecking several frames trying to find her. This is what ultimately led to learnings #1 through #3.
  2. No construction had occurred on the four remaining frames, three with foundation and one without, leading me to suspect that the boom and bust construction cycle is predominantly driven by my workforce, or lack thereof, and less by their sentiments towards foundation. They do appear to have more resources as evidenced by multiple frames containing honey, including some nice capped sections that can be seen in the photos below.

At the point I closed the hive back up with a fresh pollen patty, I still did not know if the queen was alive or dead and I now have my own version of Schrödinger’s cat: Prestera’s bee. Curiosity is getting to this cat and I think I am going to check for her tomorrow morning because, if I did harm her, I need to make a plan to re-queen my hive and now is not the easiest season to acquire queens. Wish me luck!

I had hoped to find a local supplier that I could easily drive to and pick up a queen that weekend, but to no avail. What I did find is a company that ships queens next-day via UPS. Wildflower Meadows https://wildflowermeadows.com/ is located in southern California and does occasionally offer in-person pickup, it’s just that none were available at the time. So I reviewed all of their information and opted to order a queen from them that would arrive that Thursday as that was the earliest available. One of the things I like about Wildflower Meadows is that their queens are genetically selected for increased vigilance towards mites, which are a recurring concern in bee colonies. I opted for delivery at my home rather than at the pickup center because the weather forecast for the week was pretty mild.

I still had nearly another week without a queen in my colony. I didn’t know how I would contain my impatience. I watched the video on their site for how to install my queen once she arrived, and found through them a fabulous new resource in GirlNextDoorHoney https://girlnextdoorhoney.com/ who even offers online beginner beekeeping classes. I’ll be there soon!

I was ready! Thursday morning was perfectly overcast and I could see from the UPS tracking that my queen would arrive late morning. She arrived without incident and remained on my kitchen countertop until my beekeeper friend could come over in the late afternoon to help me with the installation.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 61480155594__890ccd95-5c71-4eea-a0c8-3b9908ba923f_li.jpg
She’s here!
Queen Aliènor la Bleue and her attendants

We waited about a week from when we collected the bees before we opened the hive to see if there was a queen. From the title of this post, I think you can see where we’re going, but our hope had been that somehow there was a second queen in the swarm. It was a far-fetched hope, but a hope all the same. We opened the hive to discover approximately one frame of bees, who had not done much of anything over the past week. No comb being drawn, no sign of any activity, and definitely, no sign of a queen. As I saw it, the issue was that we needed a queen, and we needed one soon. I had a jar of honey in the cupboard that I’d purchased from Max’s Honey House (excellent honey, BTW), which had a phone number on it that we called. We reached a man who is a commercial beekeeper and dissuaded us from trying to re-queen this colony of bees as it was too small and too late in the season to have a viable colony come winter. He recommended that I acquire a nucleus hive, which for those new to beekeeping is about five drawn frames filled with a queen, some drones, and some workers ready to be placed into a new hive body. That is still my next plan, if this colony fails.

In the lovetime, here were some queenless bees who would slowly die out over their natural lifespans and that seemed a little sad. I had collected them in the hopes of saving them. Sure, honey would be nice eventually, but I was and am more interested in the process and understanding of beelife. So after much deliberation, we decided we would attempt to re-queen them and see what happens in our grand experiment. We placed a feeder of sugar syrup on the hive and called it a night.

Mmm, mmm good!
%d bloggers like this: