Requeening The Kitty Hive
Today was the day to find out if the mad experiment worked. You may recall that last week, our dear Kitty hive had swarmed and in my efforts to try and prevent it, I removed all the queen cells, but the hive swarmed anyway. Doh! I read about a plan to take eggs from the healthy Olga hive and see if Kitty would raise one of the eggs into a queen...
But first, I have to show you a really cool new tool I got to make our hive inspections easier. It's a little hanger you attach to a brood box while it's open. When you take out a frame, you can hang it on that, instead of setting the frame on the ground--it was pretty sweet and keeps you from crushing bees or letting the queen crawl onto the ground.
We had to dig around and look for the queen cells and we found one. This one had LOTS of activity around it. We tried smoking the bees out of the way to see if we could look inside and find an egg or better yet, larvae. Any fertilized honeybee egg can be a queen. What separates an egg from being a worker as opposed to the queen is that the the larvae is fed only royal jelly every day before it pupates. Workers only get royal jelly for three days. All this activity around this cell had me hopeful there was larvae inside, but I couldn't see anything, because it was at a weird angle. We continued our hunt for more queen cells. We found many, but they were empty.
But then we found two queen cups on the bottom of a frame (queen cups are the early states of a queen cell and low and behold, there was an egg inside the queen cup on the right. Can you see the tiny thing that looks like a grain of rice? That's an egg that has been transferred so it can be raised as a queen. WHOOT! If you're having trouble seeing the egg, try clicking on the picture, that will make it larger. Things are looking up for the queenless Kitty colony. An Olga egg that was originally intended to grow into a worker, is now to become a queen--should I change this hive's name to Anny Boleyn?
Okay, it will be an egg for three days, a larvae for about 5-6 days and pupate for about 7-8 days. When she emerges, she will get a quick tour of the hive for a couple of days, then fly around and fornicate and kill some drones for three days, and then get down to business and layin' some eggs. Hopefully in about two and a half weeks, we'll see some eggs!
Last week, we had added a honey super to Olga, as well as a propolis trap. I went to check in and see how that was doing. As you can see in the above photo, the trap is well on its way to filling with propolis--yum. The honey is another matter...
I've been having some issues with the comb honey kit that I ordered. First, there were no instructions that came with it that told me the important step of nailing the comb foundation into the frame, so last week all of our foundation started to melt, bend, and fall out of the frames. I called the place I ordered my kit from and they unhelpfully asked, "Didn't you nail in the foundation?" I told him no because there were no instructions. So, I nailed in all the foundation. Today, when went to look inside, the foundation had fallen out again! And I had nailed it! In the above photo, you can see the foundation laying between frames on the bottom of the box. They bees are using it, but it's going to make inspecting the hive and extracting the honey a pain. Hey, and remember how Olga had a talent for building funky comb? Well, that talent finally came in handy:
She built her own comb on one of the empty frames! Go Olga bees! Not only did the bees build inside the frame, but on the bottom for good measure. As much as I appreciate Olga's ambition, this may not be the best way to go. I called the company and complained about my dissatisfaction with this comb honey kit and we are going to exchange the kits we have for a comb honey kit called Ross Rounds, hopefully that will work better for all involved. So, if anyone is reading this blog and thinks one day they will try having their bees make comb honey...choose your kit carefully.
In other news, on our way to the hives today, Mr. Neil was telling me about a hen turkey and poults he and Cabal flushed on their way to the hives a couple of days ago. Just as he was describing it, Cabal flushed a turkey right next to us that was hiding in the grass. She popped up and flew in one direction and then Cabal flushed about five poults who flew in the other directions. The poults were about the size of a cantaloupe and could fly already! I didn't know they could fly that young. All the young turkeys made it safely into a tree and Cabal did not get them.