We took a quick peek in the new split hive on April 24 and there was one frame with tiny larvae growing, giving the evidence we needed that the queen in the swarm I captured was mated and working. Five days later, we checked again and there was capped brood and new larvae.
We checked the original hive on the 29th and discovered the bees have been backfilling the hive body and brood chamber frames with honey, so space that should be used for eggs is being filled with honey. Although we didn’t see the queen, there was one frame with tiny larva growing, so the new queen there was recently mated and she was starting to lay eggs. However, the bees in this hive are getting grouchy and more aggressive when I open the hive. They’re not chasing us around the yard or even coming up to the house, but with offspring from the original queen getting more aggressive and the possibility of the new queen being mated with a wild bee, I’ve decided to replace her with a queen I already had on order from BeeWeaver in Navasota, Texas. I’m hoping that will return this hive to its calmer state.
Friday afternoon, I opened the original hive again to find the queen since she has to be removed before introducing the new queen. I expected a long hunt, but after removing the honey supers, she was in the center of the top deep box. I had a jar handy and put her and a couple of attendants in the jar. Removing her did not earn me any points with the bees and they really started pelting me – good thing I had my bee suit on!
Saturday morning, we drove to Boggy Creek Farms in East Austin to pick up our new queen. It’s a beautiful urban farmer’s market, so you should visit sometime. I wish I could grow a garden in the country like their city gardens.
In hive 1, I moved the frames with honey to the edges and frames with brood or empty frames to the center. That gives the new queen plenty of cells in which to lay eggs right away. Then I put the queen cage in the center of the bottom hive body. It should take the bees in the hive a couple of days to eat through the candy plug, and by then they will have accepted her. Right now though, they hate her. That’s why she’s in a cage – to keep the bees from killing her.
I’ll check in about 3 days to make sure she’s been released from her cage and then hope she not only starts laying right away, but that the bees return to their happy, calm state again.
We checked on the new hive this morning (May 4). At first, it didn’t look like she was laying as much as she should, but when I turned the frames into the sun, we could see lots of fat larve as well as 2 or 3 frames of capped brood. It won’t be long before there’s a boom in the population of this new hive.
We spotted the queen during this morning’s inspection of hive 2. A man in line with us at Boggy Creek asked how I find the queen. Take a look: her abdomen and wings are much longer, and she doesn’t have the dark bands like the worker bees do.