Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trapped Queen

A couple of weeks ago, while inspecting the hives, I discovered that both queens had moved up and laid eggs in the honey supers. Georgia had moved honey out of the super directly above the deep hive bodies and the queen laid eggs there. In Virginia, however, the queen crossed over a whole super of capped honey to lay eggs in the next box up. I looked through the supers and tried to find the queens. When I didn’t find either of them I figured she must be down in the deep hive bodies. So I put the queen excluders back on in order to keep the queens down low. This would allow the brood in the honey supers to mature and emerge before we extract honey. I do not want to deal with brood in the supers while we are trying to extract.

I checked out both hives last Tuesday to see how the bees were doing with capping the honey in the supers. I found that the bees have collected just a little more nectar- I think that the nectar flow is slowing down some. I was also expecting to find some brood where the queens had been laying. That is exactly what I found in Georgia- a few frames of capped brood directly above the queen excluder I put on last a couple of weeks ago. Georgia is capping more of the honey in the supers. I did not inspect any lower into the brood nest, but she looks like she is doing well. I think this new queen is a good one- the population has grown significantly since Georgia was queenless.

Georgia also had capped brood where the queen had been laying up in the honey super- but I also found larva and eggs! Apparently, when I put the queen excluder back on the queen had not moved down into the deep hive bodies. My queen was trapped up in the honey supers! Luckily she hadn’t laid eggs in more than that one medium super- at least I didn’t see any eggs or brood in any of the others. I looked over each frame in that super and didn’t see the queen anywhere- I am horrible at finding the queen. I have not seen a queen since just a few weeks after we hived our packages in April of 2009. Anyway, in order to make sure I got the queen back down in the deeps, I pulled all 4 medium supers off the hive and went through each super frame by frame. I looked over each frame, brushed all the bees off in to the deep hive body, and set the beeless frame off to the side. After all the bees were cleaned out of the supers I replaced the queen excluder and put the supers back on the hive. I am hoping the queen made it back down where I want her. I will check again next week and will hopefully find eggs in the deep hive bodies only.

As I mentioned the nectar flow is slowing down. The alfalfa fields are still blooming but not nearly like they were earlier in the summer. I am not certain when we will extract our honey. Last year we pulled the supers off in the middle of September. That seemed to work well- I fed them sugar syrup in the fall and they had time to build up enough stores to get them through the winter. I did do some supplemental feeding last January because I thought they were getting low but realized later that it was not needed.

I guess we will see how things go. Hopefully we won’t see any new brood in the honey supers and we can pull the supers after all of that brood has emerged. I’ll keep you updated.


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