The Blog That Kept A Hive

Or, the queen was not getting released from her cage:

The really cool part about blogging the bees is that sometimes readers save our beekeeping operation from potential disaster. When I mentioned this morning that Fabulous Lorraine and Mr. Neil had found a queen cell in the newly divided hive and that the queen had not been eaten out of the cage yet, Bee Girl emailed this:

"At this point, the queen should have been out and laying eggs. It only takes 3 days for the workers to acclimate to a new queen, but the presence of a queen cell means they may have given up on her because they hate eating that nasty dried up sugar plug. I'd get her out of there today!

To give the new queen the greatest chance of succeeding (which will allow you to get the benefits of the purchased queen's breeding, ensure you have a well-mated queen and ensure you get the earliest possible start to the brood rearing season), plan to destroy the queen cell. I would release the queen before destroying the queen cell. If your assistant kills the queen in the process of releasing her, then you will have the self-started queen to replace her. If the self-started queen emerges first, then when your new expensive purchased queen gets out, she'll be killed by the other queen or the workers.

Those candy plugs are notorious for keeping the queens in far too long. I normally poke a large (penny nail) size hole in it to speed the process. The plugs are usually dried out, and there is nothing in the bee's innate programming to direct it to gnaw through something to release a queen. If the bees are slow in figuring this out, its a big problem - the presence of a queen cell indicates that something has gone wrong with the release process."

So, I contacted the Bee Team and they went out to unleash the queen get the Kitty Hive back on track. The queen came out and all appeared to be well. The hive is already Four Queen Kitty, I really don't want to nickname her Five Queen Kitty. You can read Fabulous Lorraine's account here.