Summer Battle

Mid-May, I introduced a new queen to hive one. Within two weeks, the hive was clearly making preparations to swarm with my new Buckfast queen. I opened the brood nest and checkerboarded the honey supers, but to no avail. They had already decided to swarm and no amount of resistance or pleading on my part would deter them. This hive had already swarmed earlier in spring, which is why I had to requeen them: the new queen’s brood was too aggressive. However, I really did not want my expensive queen to fly away, so I did a cut-down split on June 10, putting most of the open brood and honey in a new hive with the queen and leaving all the capped brood and only a little open brood with the queen cells. I hoped this would do the trick, even though I’d again be stuck with a wild-mated queen, at least I’d still have my Buckfast.

A couple of weeks later the summer-long battle began. The new hive with my Buckfast began building queen cells. Just one or two at first. Every week, I check the hive, find the queen, and cut out more queen cells. This week was a close call because one of the queen cells had just been capped, but my Buckfast was still there, so I cut it out. She is laying well and the hive has two full frames of brood plus three partially-drawn frames with eggs. Her offspring have a great temperament and they have plenty of space for brood and honey. I’m determined to keep this queen as long as possible. Perhaps they’ll stop trying when winter comes and they evict the drones.

The other half of the cut-down split is doing well. For some reason, this hive has always had a strong tendency to swarm. Even after the cut-down split in early June, in which they lost half their population in the split and most of the uncapped brood, they swarmed two weeks later. It was a large swarm, too. However, they have a laying queen and several frames of larva already. I’ll know in a couple of weeks if the new queen’s offspring are as aggressive as all the others from wild-mated queens so far. Perhaps she found a group of drones with calmer genetics out there. But this is Central Texas and there are not many beekeepers in my area, so I doubt it.

Meanwhile, the battle will go on to keep my Buckfast on her throne.



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2 responses to “Summer Battle

  1. Cheryll

    I had forgotten that I had bookmarked your blog and was so fortunate to find it again. Love your writing about your adventures. It is both fascinating and educating. Have you thought about doing school talks? You could either wear your suit or take it. Also, have you thought about writing a children’s book about beekeeping? Then, you could do a book tour across schools. It might really spark an interest for some to take up beekeeping as an adult. Your work with bees is so important, and I appreciate your sharing that.

    • Thanks for your kind feedback. I had two opportunities to talk to 5th grade classes last school year and loved sharing pictures and facts about bees. I have been thinking about writing a children’s book – what an adventure that would bee. Great to hear from you!

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