Yesterday, we were inspecting the hive and I noticed that the bees were all surrounding the queen cell and chewing away the wax. This is what they do when the queen is about to hatch and they help her to escape.
Watch the video and see what happens! There is a huge mystery at the end…
Today we performed an artificial swarm and split our hive into two.
Our hive is thriving and has been making preparations to swarm (see previous blogs on queen cells).
We took the queen and put her in a new hive with a frame of brood (eggs, larva and pupa). We also shook in lots of bees from the old hive. Some of these will be nurse bees, who look after and feed the babies, and some will be workers who go out and look for nectar and pollen.
The nurse bees will stay in this hive as they don’t leave, however, when the workers leave, they will go back to the old hive because they have orientated to the sun previously. This will leave us with the queen and nurse bees in the new hive, but only a tiny amount of brood. She will therefore think she has swarmed and start laying eggs like crazy to set up a new hive.
In the old hive there are 7 queen cells with larva that were born on the 11th or 12th of May. when they are 8 days old, the bees will cap over the cell and the larva will turn into a pupa. 8 days after that, the queens will hatch. This will therefore be on the 25th or 26th of May. We will destroy all but one queen cell so that we don’t get another swarm when the queens emerge. Then this queen will become our new queen.
During our inspection today we found two queen cells! At least one of them had an egg in it, but we couldn’t see into the other one.
We destroyed the two cells and will see if the bees make some more in the next few days. We will probably perform an artificial swarm later in the week to create two hives.
If you look closely inside the cell you can see a white grain of rice – this is an egg. In 3 days this hatches into a larva. The bees will build this cell bigger and bigger to create a queen cell and they will feed the larva a diet of royal jelly. If we left this queen cell alone, the bees would probably swarm in 8-10 days and we would only have half of our bees. Then after 16 days from now the new queen would emerge and be in charge of the hive.
Here is a frame of eggs and larva. The queen is working really hard to lay eggs so we have as many bees as possible to forage for nectar and pollen.
Our hive is growing in size every few days. All the eggs that the queen has been laying for the last few months have been hatching and as a result the number of bees is increasing by 1,000-2,000 every day. This will continue for another 4-6 weeks and then the hive will reach it’s maximum size.
Here you can see a frame from the super which is full of honey. The honey hasn’t been fully dried yet, so it hasn’t been capped over. The bees will take the honey and put it on their tongue, then they will fan it with their wings to dry it out. Once the water percentage is less than 10%, they will cover it with wax and we can take it from them!