Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bee hive recovery

I have written recently that we thought one of our hives had become queenless. Our plan was to merge it with another but an inspection of it was needed before merging it to ensure there were no workers in the hive laying their own eggs. Such eggs will give rise to drones but not workers. They can be spotted as an irregular pattern of dome shaped capped comb. An egg laying worker thinks it is a queen and if it is in a hive that is being merged with another, there is a strong chance it could kill the queen in the other hive. That would leave the merged colony to die gradually.

Today I checked the hive we thought was queenless to look for the signs of an egg laying worker. I had a rather pleasant surprise. There was brood in the hive and no sign of any laying workers. It means this hive is recovering. We had a large swarm at the start of August (very late in the year for swarming) and we think this hive was the one that produced it. The swarm would have taken with it the existing queen. When we last checked the hive about 3 weeks ago, there was no brood. Our conclusion was that the queen had been killed whilst out being mated. It seems we were wrong. The queen had returned to the hive. We must have checked it right at the point when the new queen had not started laying.

The other bit of good news is that the super on this hive had 4 full frames of capped honey. We may just be able to get a very small honey crop after all.

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