I checked White Hive yesterday, guessing that they were queenless by the lack of pollen coming into the hive over the past week. I found over a dozen queen cells had been made and capped in the center of some frames, along with several swarm cells along the edges. I went through and checked every frame carefully, and squashed all but 3 of them; the largest and most pitted looking. They were all swarm cells. I decided that because they still wanted to swarm and had made so many queen cells, that I would split them again. I still had the other deep box sitting around empty, and my aunt would still like a hive at her house.
So, I picked the frame with one queen cell on it, and put it in the empty brood box, along with two full frames of capped brood, a half frame of capped brood and nectar and a frame of mostly honey. There was pollen interspersed throughout, and a fair number of the empty frames in the brood box still had some pollen at the bottom of the cells. I put the frames I removed from that box around the brood cluster in the first box. I then put the telescoping cover on top of the first box, and covered the hole of the cover with a few folds of burlap. There’s no reason for the bees to try and get through that, from either box, and it’ll hold for a two or three weeks while the colonies are still figuring themselves out with their new queens.
There were a few dark drones running around, but I also saw several spots where drones had been laid along the edges of the frame, so they very well could have come from the first queen. I really should find a name for her. I didn’t check Trunchen Hive to see how she was doing because it’s not easy to do with my hive tool. Cutting the comb means I have to flip the boxes onto their sides and squat down at an odd angle to see into the box. Its a bit of a nuisance. I’m going to be ordering an appropriate hive tool soon, and with any luck I can convince my cousin to modify the top bars of the boxes that haven’t been occupied. I was thinking about maybe just buying some big screws and some chanfer, and attaching the chanfer to the top bar using the screws at either end. That way I could just do it myself, and no real woodwork would be required. I’ve seen versions of this modified top bar using just thick wire, but I think that’s a bit beyond me. Screws would work, don’t you think?
I didn’t have time to open the bees yesterday, since I didn’t get home from my internship until 5, and my mom had friends over for dinner. There seems to have been a slight decrease in activity in the last few days, but since opening the hive today I wonder if I just wasn’t paying very good attention. The hive had a nice layer of bees on the top of the frames in the langstroth box. That may also be because it was very late in the day. I spent most of today working on the official list of plants I have to know for my final exam on Wednesday.
There was a fair amount of nectar in the hive, and lots of new bees. The colony’s color is slowly changing to a light almond color as the old bees are replaced with the new. I searched diligently for the queen, but didn’t find her. The warre’ hive was a lot heavier than last time, and they had drawn out the chunk of comb I’d cut out before I put the box on. I assumed the queen was in there since there was no sign of her in the lower box. A few of the frames had new bees emerging while I was working, so there wasn’t much space for eggs (though there were definitely eggs visible). On the right side of the hive, the second frame in was completely full of pollen, which I was very glad to see. The frame to the left of that one had 3 swarm cells drawn out, and one of them had an egg in it. I took this as a sign that it was time to split the hive. I destroyed the two empty cells but left the one with the egg in it. I’ll go back in a week and check White Hive to make sure they don’t have too many queen cells made. Or to discover the queen that the queen is actually still in that box.
I went over to the empty Trunchen Hive and took one box off. I flipped it over and cut the edges of the 3 comb that were connected to the walls of the box, then righted the box and removed them. I then went back over to White Hive (though I suppose its been more Half-and-Half hive in recent weeks) and took out a frame at a time to shake/brush bees off into Trunchen Hive. I brushed 3 frames worth of bees from White Hive into Trunchen Hive and then replaced the frames and closed up White Hive. Then I replaced the three combs from the empty box and put the Warre’ box from White Hive onto that box. So! I now (hopefully) have two hives.
I’m not worried about new queens mating successfully at all. One of the deep boxes from White Hive was full of honey, but extremely moldy and full of dead bees when I had first prepared the boxes to hive the bees in. I left it sitting outside for a good long while after I hived the bees and eventually they managed to find it. I moved it to the front of the house (I had originally left it on my back patio with the hope that that would motivate me to actually do something with it in a timely fashion) by the garage, but got distracted and it never made it all the way inside. Eventually so many bees were visiting it that I assumed the honey was still good, and rather than worrying about having to clean it myself, I took it back to the back yard and pull up a couple of frames and cut into them, leaving the bees to take care of the rest. There were several days of frenzied activity, and today I looked inside it to see how things had gone. The box was completely empty, and a nice pile of wax sat underneath the frames. Several bees were still inspecting it, and I noticed that a few of them weren’t mine. There were several that had shiny abdomens, and a coloring very similar to my bees last year. Which makes me wonder if maybe Agatha didn’t manage to survive the winter and head a new colony after all. Another bee was also hairless and shiny, but was completely black. Definitely not one of mine. So, (with any luck) this means there are at least two other colonies in the surrounding area, which means there are lots of drones for a new queen to pick from!