Laying Workers Be Gone

I went to my aunts today to check on the colony with no queen. The queen cell that was in progress when I last checked in on them had been torn down, and the general population was greatly reduced. I decided to combine them with the colony next door, so that I’ll have a colony make it through the winter. I hauled the two hive boxes (which were very light) over to the other side of my aunts garden and shook the bees out into the lawn. She has over an acre lot size, but it wasn’t quite the 300 yards that most books recommend. Within minutes all the bees had flown back to their hives old spot and were covering the hive next door. There were bees everywhere.

I removed all the comb from the two boxes that had drone brood in them, but there were several frames with a lot of honey and pollen that were still worker sized, so I moved those into a single box. I then put the box full of useable comb, and the empty box on the bottom of the hive that over wintered. I figured with the population doubling over night, they would want an extra box of food and room to expand. One of the boxes had a window on one side, and that was the box I put the comb into. Once everything was done we went back and peeked into that little window. The bees all seemed happy in there, and there wasn’t any fighting. I’ll check in on them next week to make sure everything’s going well!

From her house I came home and looked in on my own bees. I didn’t even have the inner cover off before I realized I had made a mistake by not checking on them last week, and quickly grabbed the only super I have from my garage. They had wax all over the under side of the inner cover, and 7 of the frames in the top box were solid honey stores. Pollen was being packed into the brace comb, and drone brood was tucked in between the two boxes. I spent almost 45 minutes just cleaning the hive up so I could properly get into it. Once the top box was cleaned out I moved into the bottom box. I took out three of the fuller frames from the top box and set them aside so that I could arrange the brood a little bit nicer between the two boxes. There were honey frames between the brood in the top box, so I moved things around to make everything a bit more uniform.

There wasn’t much in the way of new brood in the colony, which was really worrisome for a while. There just isn’t room for the queen to lay eggs, but because there were almost no new eggs I was really bothered. There were 4 full frames of capped brood, with more and more space being used to store honey. They queen was hiding on the absolutely last frame in the bottom box, so I was slightly panicked that she had gone missing by the time I found her. Luckily she’s there and looking healthy! I moved frames around in the hopes she’ll lay on them, and there’s a super on top of the hive now so they should have a little more room to move around. I definitely need to buy another box or two. I’m thinking I’ll just buy a third deep so that if this problem happens again I can just moved the frames between the boxes with easy. And I’m still young enough that a deep full of honey isn’t that big of a deal.

Anyway, I’ve got lots of bees and lots of honey! More than likely I’ll have to harvest a frame or two from the deep boxes to give the girls a bit of space. They’ve only just started capping some of it, but it shouldn’t take them long. There were no signs of swarming which was really nice to find. 

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3 responses to “Laying Workers Be Gone”

  1. bdbatta says :

    I’m using all deeps myself. Much nicer when you find situations like this. You can move honey up and keep the brood down. A well respected beekeeper in my area told me to move all uncapped brood into the bottom box and older capped brood into the top brood box. Then every two weeks or so you should be able to reverse the brood boxes. The queen wants to be in the top box laying. So this just gives her what she wants. I’ve been doing this and it seems to be working pretty well so far.

    • willowbatel says :

      awesome! The guy I bought the box from thought I was crazy for trying this, but it just makes more sense to me to have all the parts be uniform. All the beekeeping books tell you to choose a hive still and stick with it so that you can move parts between the hives if you need to. Why would I make it so I couldn’t even move parts between the boxes of a single colony?? I think this will be way easier.

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