Queenright and Humming

Although it is very windy this morning, the sun is shining and the temperature was perfect to introduce the new queens. Hive one was grumpy, not unexpected considering we kidnapped their queen yesterday, but the tone changed immediately when we put in the new Buckfast queen, going from an agitated buzz, the roar typical of a hive that’s lost its queen, to a gentle hum. I’m a bit fumbly-fingered with the thick gloves, and dropped the queen cage to the bottom, but Hial quickly retrieved her. I made space between two frames of brood and gently pushed the cage into the wax, stapled the string to the top of the frame, and closed up the hive. I won’t open it again for about a week. In that time, they will get acquainted with her, eat through the candy plug, and free her from the cage.

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The queen cage is gently pressed into the wax.

The queen cage is gently pressed into the wax.

The queen in hive three wasn’t marked, which makes a queen challenging to spot when the population grows over the summer. It’s a good thing we opened the hive to look for her, because I discovered my experiment with foundationless frames was going awry. I put a frame with no foundation between two frames that were already drawn with comb. The idea is they will draw out the empty frame from top to bottom within the space provided. Right.

On one of the frames, they drew out comb, and connected it to the frame next to it! The wax was still quite fragile, so it broke and fell into the bottom of the hive, so I had to remove two frames to get the chunk of comb. It is beautiful comb and it made me sad to have to remove it, especially since it had eggs in it, but there’s no good way to reattach it. I left the partially drawn frame at the edge of the hive body and replaced the other empty frame since there was no comb there yet. That’s why I only tried it with two frames and only in one hive.

Comb drawn without foundation to guide them.

Comb drawn without foundation to guide them.

Capped brood, larva, and eggs.

Capped brood, larva, and eggs.

We found the queen in hive three and marked her. She’s much darker than other queens we’ve had, and she’s laying very well. This split hive should grow very strong over the summer. In about a month, they should be ready for their first honey super.

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The queen in a special catching clip.

The queen in the marking tool. It holds her gently so a dab of paint can be put on her thorax.

The queen in the marking tool. It holds her gently so a dab of paint can be put on her thorax.

The last task was to introduce the other queen to hive five. She is a Cordovan Italian queen, shipped all the way from California. I’m concerned this hive may not survive, but perhaps with the emerging brood, the uncapped eggs and brood I added yesterday, and a mated queen, they will be able to recover. In about a week, I’ll  check the hive again to check the queen, remove the remaining paper, and rearrange the frames in the top and bottom hive bodies into a single box.

A brightly-marked queen in a cage, ready to be introduced to the hive.

A brightly-marked queen in a cage, ready to be introduced to the hive.

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