I told myself that this year I would take a break from bees to focus on other things in the garden and give myself time to figure out what I need to do to keep the bees alive through the winter. Well, I got an email from a local beekeeper who said he had extra nucs for sale about a week ago, which is pretty late in the season for us around here. I ended up buying two nucs last Saturday, and have bees in the garden again. To be honest it was kind of nice not having them, but I did really miss them. When I bought the nucs I assumed they came with an already laying queen, but they actually were just 5 frames of bees and a queen from California. Which explains why there were bees available so late. I brought both nucs home last Saturday and placed the queens on the top of the frames and left them for three days like I was advised to do.
I checked in on Tuesday to swap the cork out for candy, so the bees could let the queens out on their own (as advised by the beekeeper I bought them from) and found that the queen in White Hive was dead in her cage. Naturally I was confused and upset, and prepared to do a full inspection on the hive. After getting through to the 5th frame i discovered freshly laid eggs, and on frame 6 I found a queen who had very obviously been laying for quite some time. Naturally this means I got one of the queens that over wintered from the other Beekeepers apiary, and it also means that White Hive is about a full week ahead of Green Hive in terms of development. I would even say two weeks based on activity levels. They’re definitely twice the size of Green Hive. I’m really excited to have a queen that’s over wintered here already. I’m sure I’ll have to split the colony later in the year as well, and with any luck I manage to keep them all alive. I bought Hopguard and Mite Away Quick Strips this year, and I plan on treating with both of them once the colonies are large enough. I’ll wait until Green Hive has at least 5 full frames of brood. Which may take a few of weeks.
I checked on both colonies today (specifically Green Hive to make sure their queen was out) and both colonies are bringing in nectar and pollen. The blackberries are in full bloom so there’s lots to eat. Green Hive had lots of new eggs in the hive today and only 1 frame left of capped brood. Because they’re so different in size already I may swap them so Green Hive gets more field bees.