Long Live the Queens

I’m happy to believe things have settled here at Happy Florence Bees. It’s been a wild and crazy summer, especially with the queens.

On September 2, I made an unplanned inspection of a strong hive and discovered not only had the hive superceded their queen, but I opened the hive at the right moment to find two newly hatched virgin queens duking it out. Today I checked the split I made from that hive and both queens have mated and are just beginning to lay eggs. I hope to get a picture of the queens soon because they are HUGE.

The new queen in the smaller split is a bit skittish, and started running frantically when I pulled her frame. I gently led her back into the hive so I could check the frame for eggs, and after she reentered I HEARD HER PIPPING! I’ve never actually heard a queen making that distinctive sound. It’s a high-pitched pip. They’re the only bees that make a call. I wonder if she was calling for help because she was lost or because she felt threatened. Maybe she heard the tale that I carelessly squished a queen last month.

Just a week later, on September 9, I was apparently over-ambitious in my attempts to “manage” a hive They had an entire deep box of frames they weren’t using, so I removed it. At the same time, I put on a screened bottom board for better ventilation and to help control varroa mites. I guess they were happier with the extra space and preferred the darkness of the solid board and most of the hive took off the next day. I found a small clump of bees hanging under the entrance. They hung there overnight. The next day, Hial helped me shake them onto a sheet and I discovered the queen in that little clump. After trying to merge her little clump of bees with another hive, I ended up putting her in a push-in cage (a wire cage about 4-inches square) into a recently queenless hive. I left her in the cage for a full week and finally released her yesterday. The bees seem happy with her and so far she’s staying put.

I was concerned my other strong hive had also superceded their queen, but they haven’t and don’t have any queen cells started. She’s still laying well, so hopefully all eight hives will focus on getting ready for winter. Fortunately, they all have ample honey stores, with a little extra for me.

I’ll find out in about a month how the temperament of my queens’ brood is. Hopefully they found friendly drones and not mean ones.

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