Monday, July 9, 2012
Queen Bees Stump! Lesbian lovers or a slow supersedure?
I don't know what the heck is going on in Mr. Abbott's Little Bee but quite possibly we have a harmonious co-existence of two Queens. Could they be lovers? Lesbian Queen Bees? All joking asking, beekeeping 101: Apis Mellifera Queens are notorious for their royal battles, fighting it out until one remains. I have never heard of two Queens in one hive unless the beekeeper has set up a deliberate system called a two queen hive which is really a misnomer if you ask me because the queens are separated.
Mr. Abbott is our "child" hive from a divide off of The Turquoise Bee, a troubled hive from the get go when we did the divide and queened her. In my opinion the Yellow Lady never took so to speak. The population in the hive has been poor and her laying pattern has been spotty at best. There isn't a lick of nectar in the hive and not much comb. She has always been easy to spot, bright yellow, making her way slowing across a frame with few bees. We saw her every single week until the day before I left for Europe. Besides not seeing her, the brood pattern looked particularly awful that day and I thought the hive was headed for drone. While I was gone Paula checked on them and saw a plump unmarked queen. I was dumbfounded. Last week when I checked the I hive I saw our Yellow Lady, clear as day and her brood patterned seemed a little better. Yesterday we couldn't find her but both of us saw the unmarked Queen.
I am stumped? Are both of them in there? We never seem to see both of them at the same time. Is this some sort of slow supersedure mother daughter combo in action? Yesterday the brood pattern looked much better, not great but better. Still there isn't much comb and there isn't any nectar and there are not many bees. It would make perfect sense to me that the girls tried to replace the Yellow Lady but why have they let her run amuck while another Queen is taking over. I am going to my monthly Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Meeting tomorrow night where smarter minds will prevail and hopefully provide some insight.
We got to the bottom of Crazy Comb and I just have to say I am not convinced she swarmed. Her population is busting and we saw more swarm cells and queen cups. We didn't see a Queen but we have lots of beautiful brood and a super full of honey that the girls are starting to cap. We also poked out heads inside Royal Ruckus and The Drone Den. Unfortunately we have brood in the honey supers in both of them. Clearly they need more room so I ordered another brood box for both of them that will arrive tomorrow. Hopefully we can find our Queens, slip in queen excluders and hatch out the brood above. We have full supers on each of them and the girls are starting to comb out their second super.
The Turquoise Bee was aggressive and difficult again yesterday. We got to the bottom box but had to close her up, just too much activity and I am not in the mood for another sting just yet. Her population seems a little small. We didn't see any swarm cells or queen cups but I am thinking it may have been this hive that swarmed, not Crazy Comb. I guess time will tell. She has a full super and the bees are combing out a second box.
If the bees cap everything off we will have a minimum of 10 gallons of honey but I am not sure they are done. If they continue to pack second supers we could be talking 20 gallons. I have been waiting three years to host a harvesting party so get ready folks. I think this is the year.