A couple of weeks have passed since the rather messy hive split. The bees have seemed to resume their moderate temperament and I’ve not had any problems getting close to either hive and have received no more stings.
The new hive is quite active and sending out foragers, however at this point I’m certain that the queen did not make it to the new hive. My dad wanted to see the hive so I suited us both up and lit up the new smoker and went out to open the hives for the first time since the attempted hive split.
Things went well, the bees were very calm and not overly aggressive. I did get a couple of stings during the process, but nothing out of the ordinary. The original hive is still thriving and I added a couple more bars to it to give them more room to expand. I am now out of waxed bars and used one without a wax starter strip. I’m hoping because it is between other bits of built comb they will still build straight. I really need to get a few more bars prepped for future expansions.
The new hive appeared healthy, but there were two things of note. One was that there were a couple of queen cells. Most likely there were more but my dad was being done in by wearing the heavy clothes in the heat so I was just doing a very quick inspection. The other was that there were no apparent brood cells anywhere. This pretty obviously indicates a queenless hive, which is much what I suspected.
Over the weekend I decided to do a more thorough inspection of both hives. I cannot find the old queen in either hive, and there are many queen cells in both. I’m also not seeing a lot of brood cells or eggs in the old hive, which makes me wonder if it has been sans queen for a bit. That would explain the aggressive behavior, and of course the presence of all the queen cells could indicate that the old queen was either gone or they were preparing to supplant her. There also appears to be a disproportionately high number of drones and drone cells present. That might simply indicate the hive was preparing for swarming, but it can also indicate a laying worker, which causes lots of problems. So at this point I’m bit concerned because I cannot verify a queen in either hive, and I’m not sure there is enough brood to support either colony until a new queen can be reared. I thought I may have seen a queen in the old hive, but she wasn’t on the comb and was just in the bottom of the hive. It’s possible that this was a new virgin queen, or even a mated one that wasn’t laying yet. I went ahead and took two bars of brood with a couple of queen cells and moved them to the new hive. This cuts the old hive pretty short on new workers, but I’m hoping that it is closer to actually producing a new queen. It’s a gamble, but hopefully one that pays off. At this point it might actually be smarter to recombine them, but I’m hoping with all the queen cells I’ve seen that new queens will appear in both hives shortly.
So at this point I’m a little nervous about the future of my colonies. There is a lot that can happen to a queen bee while out on a mating flight so there is no guarantee that any of the queen cells will ultimately produce a fertile queen to sustain the colony, and even if they do, it is still a race against time for a queen to start laying before the current supply of workers dies off. If it does work out though I will have bees that have mated with local stock (hopefully wild and not just from another beek in the area). I will also have gotten past the problem of the queen with the clipped wings and can quit worrying about swarming behavior and just let nature take its course.
Besides all the problems I did note that there was getting to be a lot of honey in both hives. I don't really want to harvest much with the hives in the condition they are in, but I couldn't resist taking just a little bit for a taste.
It wasn't bad. Had kind of a strong overtone that I couldn't quite place.