Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Almost Queen

Today was almost good enough to get in to check the old hive to see how many queen cells we've left for them. Too many increases the chances that they will again swarm, a so-called "after swarm". We'd like to keep two in case one doesn't make it, it gives the hive a second chance to have their own home-made queen (rather than a bought queen). On Monday just after the swarm we checked and thought there were two, possibly three queen cells at the most. They contained larvae but they were not yet capped over with wax to pupate.

"Almost" good enough weather was going to have to be good enough weather to check in on them as I was nervous as to just how many queens are pupating in there. Sure enough, the uppermost hive body contained three queen cells all on the center frame (the one that I had moved upstairs from the first box when I put the second one on two Saturdays ago). The lower box had one queen cell that I hadn't seen on Monday. How are these peanut shaped things that hang low from the bottom of the frame so elusive? I cut out the one cell in the bottom hive, and one from the upper, leaving two queen cells. The ladies will have to battle it out, or the one that hatches first will likely open the cell of her competitor and sting her to death. A kind of royal "off with her head" execution. Only she does it herself instead of directing minions to do the dirty deed as you might expect of royalty. Because we forgot to take a photo of the queen cells we left,  we went back in sans smoke to get a pic. Apparently we're not doing a great job of getting bees out of the way as there were not two, but three capped queen cells hanging there. Glad we forgot the picture as it gave us the opportunity to once again narrow the field for the royal competition soon to come.
Two Queen Cells Covered in Bees

The picture below is that of one of the queen cells that we opened after we cut it out. What a beautiful perfectly formed bee is this "almost queen". Sad we had to take her out, so to speak. As perfectly formed as she is, she was probably about 14 or 15 days old; only a day or two away from hatching. We can probably expect that, if we're going to have another swarm, it's going to be very soon.
She Will Never Get To Compete For the Crown

No comments:

Post a Comment