We Just Can't Leave Those Hives Alone

Compared to the first year of beekeeping, we've mellowed out in some ways.  There are still discussions and disagreements but we don't often take extraordinary measures to save a hive...for the most part.

Last time, we noticed that one of our new hives was failing--no sign of a functional queen, no new eggs, no larvae, comb barely drawn out, lots of empty space and lots of drones.  I was ready to say, "Oh well, we have 7 others, let's move on."

But Mr. Neil, ever the optimist when it comes to our hives wanted to try and help it.  The red hive showed signs of swarming and when we looked we could see some queen cells.  Mr. Neil suggested putting a frame with a queen cell from the red hive into the failing new hive.  I was not a fan of this plan--no more requeening, it never seems to work  for us.  He reasoned that it was going to fail anyway and not all of the queen cells in the red hive would survive, so what would be the harm.    I doubted it would work but saw that there was no way to talk him out his plan.

It did occur to me as we were looking at frames that quite a few queen cells got inadvertently squished as we took them out--queen cells stick out further than the other cells for workers and drones.  I also noticed that there wasn't too much in the way of larvae in the hive.  I hoped that we hadn't messed up the red hive, she's little and set in her ways but she works hard.

Checking on the failing hive a week later, the new queen did not hatch and we have egg laying workers.  Mr. Neil brought up the idea of buying a queen but I strongly against that idea.  Requeening does not work for us.  Plus, I really don't like the idea of bringing a new queen only to set her up for failure.  As we looked in the red hive, we didn't see much in the way of new queen activity after a swarm.  Neil brought up that perhaps we may have killed all of the other potential new queens that would have replaced the one who left in the swarm.

He may order a new queen for the red hive, it's early enough and worth saving.  But again, I say: Requeening does not work for us.  Doh.  We still have six other hives.

Meanwhile, we removed the bell jar from the green hive, the bees weren't really doing much other than loitering in there.  But off with the bell and on to the honey supers.  They have filled almost two with honey and were showing signs of swarming.  I looked at Mr. Neil and he said, "You know, I think it's okay if the swarm."

I do too.