Monday, 30 May 2011

All Bee Quiet

Queen Olga (part one swarm), in the top bar hive, is laying beautiful swathes of eggs. Her worker ladies are making beautiful swathes of free-form comb. They are still ignoring the foundation we put in for them, so we took it out. Well, I suppose it's the difference between building your own house to your own likings and specification and being shoved into a housing estate house that looks like a million other housing estate houses.

Queen Philibert, artificial swarm hive, is laying great swathes of eggs. Her workers are making great swathes of stores and drawing out frames of wax and between them have nearly filled the brood box so will likely be ready for a super in the next two weeks.

Queen April 21st (part two swarm) has started laying. Two sides of gloriously smooth brood. Her court is still small but it's like having a nucleus, so we hold out much hope for her building up well for her first Winter. Also, she is a rather magnificent looking Queen, today being the first time we've actually spotted her - she's redder than the other Queens, and has a very long and pointy body. She is, what you might call, very OBVIOUS. We may have to rename her Mae West.

We took the original hive to the out-apiary today. This is the hive we thought had two Queens, then no Queens. This is the hive that was being very noisy and very angry, which made us think both Queens had done a bunk. We were just getting to the point of 'do we buy in a new Queen or do we re-unite it with Queen April's gang?'when the noisiness abated, and an air of calmness settled.

With some trepidation we set the hive in its new home and opened it. The bees were calm. The hive was full. The super that we'd emptied honey from was being refilled. The second super will likely be filled by the end of this season. So more honey spinning in the offing.

And there, look, in the middle of the hive - patches of brood! And larvae!!

So, although we didn't see a Queen, because looking for an unmarked Queen in a full hive is like, well, looking for an unmarked Queen in a full hive, she must have been there in the last few days, unless some itinerant larvae minstrels happened to wander past and booked themselves in for a few days for a festival or something. And the Queen shall be known as Queen Enigma the Elusive of Conundrum. Until we see her, then we'll call her Eureka!

Back in January, when it looked like our bees were going to make it safely through their first Winter, we said 'Maybe this year we'll try an artificial swarm so we'll have two hives.'

My, how we laugh about that now!!

And then, after performing the artificial swarm and being caught out by a natural swarm, and the uncertainty of Queen or no Queen in the original hive, we thought, well, if the original hive doesn't make it at least we'll have a spare hive for next year and won't have to race around like idiots because we haven't got enough equipment.

We laugh about that one, too!!

As it is, all hives are getting in with the job in hand.

Fingers crossed!

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