Thursday, July 2, 2015

TALES FROM THE APIARY by Beekeeper Fred

In the past week one of my hives began acting oddly.   Even on these cool days the bees were gathered on the doorstep; very few were going out on nectar runs despite abundant sweet clover nearby.  This was a hive that had already filled two supers and I had great hopes of a 4 super season for this hive.  It looks a like an overly warm hive with a beard that you typically see on a hot summer night, except neither the days nor nights have been overly hot. 

        Odd behaving hive; bearding on cool day; entrance blocked except for immediate left edge

                                           Typical hot day bearding; entrance not blocked
   
So I got out the smoker and did a quick check.  The brood nest had only capped brood.  No eggs.  I did see two queen cells.  One had already emerged and one was still capped.  The two cells were not at the frame bottom; so I assume they are supercedure cells, not swarms cells.    I assume my hive has gone queenless; hence the lack of motivation of the colony; no brood to raise.   I can requeen or wait and see if the emerged queen successfully mates and begins laying in the next two weeks.  Since this hive is a good honey producer I have chosen the later.  I can always re-queen in two weeks.
 
The bee population in the hive was also very high.  My other fear was that the hive was in preparation for swarming.  However, swarms usually leave before the replacement queens emerge.    Just in case, I will make it my business to visit this hive every day about 10AM to noon, when swarms usually emerge from a hive. 

This hive piqued my curiosity and I looked through this year’s records.  I have had 6 hives go queenless this spring and summer.  Luckily, I have been raising queens and have replacement queens readily available.  The six lost queens were all in their 2nd year and all came with packages.  Is this a case of poorly mated queens or some other environmental factors?  Unfortunately, such a diagnosis is beyond my amateur capabilities. 


I also dispatched a 3rd year queen who had turned into a drone layer which usually means she had depleted her supply of stored sperm.

UPDATE 3 July 2015--I checked the odd hive the next day at about 10:30 AM.  Flight activity was better than the day before.  I was working on another hive about 50 feet away when at 10:40 AM the "odd" hive began to swarm.  After about 10 minutes the swarm had condensed on a low limb 30 feet from the hive.  As of 12 noon they have so far stayed put so I must have successfully captured the queen although I did not see her.   

1 comment:

Gerard Schubert said...

That's the same behavior of two of my survivor colonies that swarmed. I have a 3rd colony that's been bearding day and night for 4 weeks. It's a strong colony from a package. They have lots of space in the supers and virtually no mites. I checked for mites twice. Thought they would have swarmed a week or two ago if they were going to swarm. This one has me puzzled.