Plotting Some Regicide
There's trouble afoot in the Olga Hive. She is now a parent colony, as we split her recently to make a second hive. When we opened Olga up to see if she was ready to add some honey supers, we found no new eggs or larvae in the top box. We down deeper into the second box and still no eggs, a tiny bit of sealed brood that is mostly emerged, but nothing new. We went into the bottom box where I found fresh larvae the day we did the divide and there was nothing but sealed brood...not good.
After consulting some bee books and putting a call for help on the blog, I got in touch with some helpful local beekeepers and the consensus is that Queen Olga has either died (perhaps accidentally crushed during the divide) or was "mated poorly" (maybe only hooked up with a few drones instead of 15 or so) and has run out of fertile eggs. Either way, something needs to be done and now.
Once again, Nature's Nectar is saving my beekeeping butt. Non Birding Bill and I are heading to his place tomorrow morning to pick up a replacement queen...but here's the hard part: I have to totally inspect the hive and if I find the old queen alive, I have to kill her in order for the hive to accept the new queen. I don't know if I can do this. I have to, but wow, this not crushing an ordinary bug, this is the queen who brought forth all the workers. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm attached to my bees and it's not like when a pet is ill and it's time to take it to the vet to be put down (boy, would love to see the face of my vet if I brought in a failing queen bee asking to euthanize her, I know my file is full of odd stuff as it is, this wouldn't help). I have to do this for the good of the hive...as Spock would say, "The needs of the many, out weigh the needs of the one."
On to happier hive news:
Kitty, the daughter of the Olga Hive is doing well. The workers have accepted the new queen and she is putting eggs in any available cell. Above is a frame with some sealed brood that was from the Olga hive, some new larvae from the new queen, and LOTS of pollen.
The new hives that we installed this year are rarin' to go. Queen MimiKo seems to have little patience for the workers, she's even laying eggs in half constructed cells. I spoke with BeeGirl today about the Olga situation and mentioned MimiKo's impatience. She recommended adding in a frame of drawn out comb without any brood from another hive to give the workers a chance to catch up and a place for the queen to lay eggs. I'll do that when I go out to put in the new Olga queen.
The Bickman Hive was full of fresh eggs and larvae too. I really love hanging out at the new hives. The workers are so docile and friendly, you barely need to smoke the hive to work in it. Ah, young colonies with no preconceived notions of humans and have been untouched by pesky skunks. They are so young, so industrious, so friendly. A perfect antidote for the puzzling Olga.