It has been a very arduous week for me! Between two days of really intensive chemo-bio therapy and a big exam and the final week of activities at the Capital culminating in the legalization of marriage equality I am spent. In the midst of all this of course the bees were acting up as well!
Paula and I went to check on the girls last Saturday after work. It was really cold and windy, probably not the best day to check on them but given the week in front of me it was the only option. We opted not to use smoke because of the wind. It was a little early to check on Colleen's Royal Ruckus. We put them in the hive a week prior and I like to wait about 10 days before checking for queen acceptance and brood. Sure enough, we really couldn't appreciate anything, nor could we find her unmarked queen. We also took a peek into Katrina's Drone Den, found the Queen and discovered very little progress and minimal brood. Frankly I would have like to have seen a better brood pattern and more brood. I am just stymied about these Queens. Patrick's Pollinator is laying up a storm of healthy brood with an excellent pattern. You can see this in the video above. Both these hives were installed on the same day so why such a difference in the brood. I am hoping we don't have an ill mated Queen on our hands in Katrina's Drone Den. She isn't a drone layer but she isn't laying much either. We also captured a beautiful photo of the Queen in Patrick's Pollinator.
Finally we checked on our most troubled hive The Turquoise Bee. You may remember a week earlier we took out a drone laying Queen and replaced her with a new unmarked Queen. So sort of like Colleen's Royal Ruckus it was a little early to check on Queen acceptance or brood but it was worth checking to see if there was more drone brood or any queen cells coming from the open brood we moved over from Patrick's Pollinator to try and temper the workers from starting to lay. I must admit I could use a little help from the Bee Squad but they won't come out as far as we are to assist us. We have some crazy stuff going on inside the Turquoise Bee. I posted another video below showing what we found and having watched it a few times and in reviewing our records I remain completely stumped!
So to review the activity in The Turquoise Bee. We installed the package and within three weeks it was clear we had a drone laying Queen on our hands. All the capped brood was drone brood clear as day! We took the Queen out, put in a a frame of capped and open brood from Patrick's Pollinator and two days later we put in a new Queen. A week after putting in the new Queen we found the following: The frame from Patrick's Pollinator seems unchanged in that none of the brood was hatched. Typically worker cells are capped by day 9 and bees emerge somewhere between 18 and 22 days. On other frames we found capped cells that look too big, long and narrow to be drone brood in a very spotty pattern, on at least two frames, both sides. It is possible that our workers started laying but usually they will lay in a very sloppy pattern and will often lay more than one egg in a cell so that the drone brood is found in clusters close together. Here we have lots of isolated cells! At first blush I thought the cells were maybe queen cups which really perplexed me because we didn't have any fertilized eggs in that hive other than what may have come from Patrick's Pollinator but we didn't find these cells on that frame. Without fertilized cells the workers can't raise their own Queen. Again at first blush they look like the start of queen cups, peanut shell like with a rough texture and elongated. However they differ from typical queen cells in that they are not hanging vertically off the frame. Perhaps they are not finished. In all seriousness I am over my head with this hive and I am guessing, what ever is going on the outcome is not going to be good. Marla always says "When you don't know what is going on in the hive just leave the bees alone and they will sort things out". Well, work it out girls, work it out. In the mean time I scored another package of bees which is most unusual at this point in the season. Yep, I am a honey whore at heart and the idea of loosing a hive and maybe having a hive that isn't going to produce is more than I can take. They will arrive Friday. Hopefully by then we can size up The Turquoise Bee, get some reassurance about Colleen's Royal Ruckus and Katrina's Drone Den and set up a new hive.