Back in business with a “queen-right” hive and new brood

Went off for a couple of weeks holidays after I re-installed a very much mated queen in my troublesome hive. This was my last effort, I think, to try and fix a problem hive in which I had managed to lose two queens and acquire some laying workers.

In a later post I will deal with how I got rid of the laying workers – complete with a video of the procedure involved – but for now, let me tell you that when I got back this weekend after leaving the hive untouched for two weeks I found I once again had a “queenright” hive.

New brood, August 2011

That’s in large part due to the help of Gus Axen, a beekeeper here in New Westminster, who happened to have a mated queen available.

You’ll recall that Jaquie Bunse, the provincial bee inspector for the Fraser Valley had inspected our hives and had confirmed that I had indeed managed to lose my second queen. This time, it was to laying workers who seemed unwilling to accept a virgin queen. Her advice was to install a mated queen and hope for the best. But before that could happen I had to get rid of the laying workers.

We installed said queen just as the holidays approached (yes, I went away and left the queen to her own defences.) It seems that leaving her alone proved the trick. When I inspected the hive on Sunday, I found about five moderately-filled frames with capped brood. Interspersed was a healthy population of uncapped larvae and I could see some eggs, indicating the queen was still kicking.

We haven’t had new brood hatch from the queen yet, but things are definitely looking up.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that this hive is clearly not going to produce any excess honey this year. It’s going to take every bit of effort for these bees to accumulate enough honey and pollen for the winter months ahead and I am not overly optimistic this hive will survive because of the setbacks.

Amanda’s hive, on the other hand, is working overtime. Healthy, robust and happily filling up the honey super. The bees are still drawing out their first comb in the super, which suggests to me that we likely shouldn’t count on much, if anything, in the way of honey.

New capped brood. A good sign!

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