This Queens Crown Is A Little Crooked
I opened my hive up yesterday to make sure there were no swarm cells, because this colony is large enough that I feel like swarming is always right around the corner. I used my smoker this time, and the bees were much easier to work with. My gloves were sting free by the end of it all, but it definitely took time to look through everything. This colony was a mess. Eggs are all over the place, and honey stores are dwindling greatly. I opened the top deep box (they still haven’t moved into the super) and was disheartened to find eggs on many of the frames there. There were eggs in every deep box, with something close to 18 frames with brood on them. They weren’t all full frames of brood. In fact, most of them were only half frames with the rest of it being honey stores. There were only 2 or 3 full frames of capped brood, and unfortunately the queen is laying in only the newest wax so not all of the frames are even fully drawn frames. I spent a very long time trying to get all of the frames arrange so there was a real brood nest, and moved the new frames around so that they were in the center and would hopefully be fully drawn out before the end of the year. The bottom box had a lot of frames that had obviously been brood, but the queen hadn’t come back down to lay in them yet. The bees had left all of the cells empty and clean though, so I tried to move things around to make it all a bit more enticing to the queen.
The honey stores have greatly reduced since I last opened them. I’m still only just able to lift the top deep box, but with the brood nest so jumbled I had to move things around so much that the boxes are all a bit more evened out. I found the queen in the top box almost immediately. She was on one of the frames on the edges, laying eggs in a place that was very obviously honey stores. I’m not sure why she’s suddenly started laying wherever she wants to, but i’m a little worried about how she’ll do in the winter. Her laying pattern is still in solid frames, but the frames aren’t always right next to each other. There were several frames of honey stores in the middle of the brood nest, and I think that’s what’s throwing her off. I think I need to buy a queen excluder to make sure she stays in the lower two boxes. For now I’ve placed the empty super in between the top brood box and the top deep box, which I rearranged so that it’s mostly honey and frames that haven’t been drawn out yet. The queen moved from the top deep box down into the top brood box while I was working, but I’m not sure if she stayed there. If she somehow got trapped in the deep box that’s now above the super then at least the brood cluster will be confined and more manageable. I can’t believe how over whelming this colony has become.
After I was done with the bees at my house, I went to visit my aunt. Her bees have been problematic all year because they won’t expand properly. Even with the extra bees from the laying worker colony they still haven’t drawn out either of the two lower boxes, and they refuse to even move down into the second box, even though its already completely drawn out. The top box weighs maybe 25lbs, and its the one that’s full of bees. The bees at my aunts have always seemed to struggle, which is very odd because she lives in a rural setting where there should be a lot more flowers available. I’m going to requeen this colony for sure, and I might even give them some extra bees from my own colony. I’m debating splitting my own bees and going into the winter with three hives instead of 2. Going away for school makes it a lot harder because I won’t be able to check on them as regularly as I normally would. Two colonies at my house would be a lot, but with the bees where I have them now it doesn’t even feel like I’ve got them in the yard.