Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We Are Not Queenless

I guess that title might make it sound like I am talking about Queen Elizabeth's 60 year jubilee, but I am not. I am talking about the hives and specifically, Georgia. Let me explain the back story.

Our little apiary consists of three hives: Georgia, Ida, and Svetlana.  Svetlana is the new hive of Russian hybrids we set up from a package this spring.  Georgia is one of our original hives we installed back in 2009- boy does time fly!  Ida was created when we split Georgia earlier this spring and moved half of Georgia's bees (with the queen) into Virginia's old digs.  Virginia died out after going queenless and developing laying workers late last summer.  Are you with me so far?

The Italian mutt queen that was in Georgia got moved over to Ida during the split.  She has continued to lay eggs and has kept that hive good and healthy.  As Georgia was then queenless, we ordered a new queen from the Walter T Kelley beekeeping supply company.  We ended up getting a Carniolan queen who had been bred with Minnesota Hygienic drones.  Minnesota Hygienic bees are Italian's that have been selected for increased hygienic behavior- they keep the hive cleaner and are thus more "resistant" to mites and other diseases.  Georgia's bee seemed to accept her very well and a week later I  found some eggs in the hive- not a lot, but some.  I figured we were on our way to a good year.

The next week I checked on her again but found no eggs at all.  I was discouraged.  I removed a frame of very young larva from Ida and put them in Georgia so they could make their own queen.  I went back again a week after that to make sure they were making supercedure cells for a new queen but found none.  Instead, I found... eggs!  It has been a roller coaster.

It has now been a couple of weeks and I thought I better check the hives again.  I wanted to check everyone for swarm cells and I also just wanted to make sure that everyone was queen right.  Ida and Svetlana are doing great queen-wise, but I was still a little worried about Georgia.  As I started going through her hive I only saw empty frames and some honey.  On the fourth frame I pulled I found a bunch of brood- capped and uncapped, but I wanted to see eggs.  On the fifth frame I also found brood but no eggs- but right there on to of the frame was the big plump queen.  Can you spot her in these first two photos?

Here is a close up of her majesty.
Isn't she beautiful?  Better looking than Queen Elizabeth, I think.  This week I choose to celebrate the reign of Georgia's queen.  May she live long and lay lots of eggs!

It does feel good to be queen right in all three hives!!


Jim Davis said...

Hi. I know how you feel. Isn't it a bit crazy that our own emotions get tied in with the well-being of our bees? It's true, though. If one of my hives is struggling, I just don't feel right until it is right. I hate to think how I'll feel the first time I lose a hive over winter, for example! Glad to hear yours are all doing well.

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