Coronation Day

I can’t believe it, but they did it–we have a queen!  I inspected the hives today and found 6-7 bars full of brood in the first hive. Let’s all do the happy bee dance! What a sigh of relief.  I found the queen on bar 10. Do you see her?
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 She’s just below the central empty spot near the bottom.  Shiny & orange.

Then I moved to inspect hive #2.  Pulled all the bars, didn’t see a queen.  What?  I start to doubt myself and get that icky feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I know I shook off that comb of larvae to make sure I didn’t accidentally transfer this queen to the other hive.  Hmmm… I see lots of capped brood which means there was a queen at least 7 days ago….which is about when I transferred that comb*.  Crap.  I may have royally (excuse the pun) screwed up.  What if I mistakenly put this queen in the other hive and now these bees are queenless?  UGH!

I check every bar as I go down the whole hive. Nothing.  No new, open brood.  But then I start to wonder that one week wouldn’t be long enough for hive #1 to raise a new queen, have her mate and start laying.  Plus, I didn’t see any queen cells on the transferred comb (though I suppose they could have removed them). Where did she come from?

Okay, I need to look again.  I check the bars as I put the hive back together.   Somewhere around bar 6 or 7 a worker decides I’ve been peering in through their roof for too long and stings me on the pinky finger.  Yes, I had one glove off because I aspire to eventually work gloveless, but need to mentally work up to it. So much for that. I immediately take my rings off because we all know my fingers are going to look like sausages tomorrow.

But I can’t let it deter me from finding the queen.  At the very least, I have to close up the hive before I go inside.  I sort through a few more bars and THERE on bar 11–the queen!  Hallelujah.  We have two queenright hives!  Amazing insects, these girls.

I can now breathe easy and let them go about their work for a few weeks before another check.  What a great way to go into a sunny weekend!

*I looked back at the blog and found that I actually transferred the comb on May 20th which would be 11 days ago.  It takes about 23 days from egg for a new queen to be fertile, so even if the larvae were 3 days old when transferred, she’d still only be 14 days old & still two days from hatching.  So, what the hell happened?  I have no idea.  Is it possible that I missed the queen before?  Maybe, but they still didn’t have any brood, so why wasn’t she laying?  One possibility is that they’d already made a new queen and she was newly mated and coincidentally didn’t start laying until after I transferred the brood.   I guess I don’t really care as long as she’s here now.  Just weird.  Always learning with honeybees!

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2 Responses to Coronation Day

  1. flcpa92 says:

    This Queen is a real beauty !! I’m glad to have found another top bar keeper. Many times I feel completely alone !! Could you let me know where you got you nuc from or did you build it ? Hope we can keep in touch. Jim

    • Thanks, Jim! I bought my nuc from BeeThinking since I live in Portland, but they sell through their website, as well. It was a bit of a desperate purchase as I had put the cart before the horse and had already arranged to buy some bees from a Langstroth keeper without figuring out how I was going to get them home. The only thing I would change about it is the narrow base. It’s prone to tipping over & would do better with square side boards for support which I’m considering attaching.

      Is yours a BackyardHive? It’s beautiful. One funny “small world” thing I noticed is that you follow FinnyKnits. I used to follow AfricanKelli’s knitting blog–who is a friend of hers. I didn’t know Finny kept bees! What a bizarre coincidence. 🙂

      Can I ask how you found my blog? It’s pretty new, so I’m curious how you stumbled upon it. Thanks!
      –Amanda

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