Trouble in Paradise

Because of bad weather and some other extenuating circumstances including an upcoming trip  to France for 10 days, we have decided not to pick up our new hive until later in the month.  I was disappointed but also grateful because it gave me one less thing to worry about while we were trying to get everything together to go away.

After putting it off several times, the morning we were leaving I decided that I absolutely had to do a hive inspection and see how things were going.  We opened up the hive to find them once again quite grumpy.  This was incredibly bothersome to me as these bees have always been docile.   We first checked the supers that we didn’t get into the day of the lovely stings and found that most of the comb has been drawn out and over half is full of honey.  The older super is almost fully capped.

Check out this gorgeousness:

Side note: We LOVE our new Brushy Mountain frame grips.  It takes away all the problems with the clumsiness associated with the gloves.

We lifted off the two honey supers (Wayne commented on the weight) to check on the brood box and the bees got progressively grumpier.  I immediately noticed three queen cells in the middle of a frame.  One was completely capped, two were still open on the ends.

And a close up:

A side view:

And another closeup:

I decided to run to the garage to get a nuc box to try to split to the hive.  While I came back out, Wayne was yelling to me that he could hear the queen.  I came over and sure enough, someone was piping!  I have seen the youTube videos, but never really thought I’d get to hear it myself.  We located the current queen scooting around the frames a bit crazily and the piping quieted.  I set up the nuc and we moved down to check out the rest of the brood.

Yet another surprise on the next frame – we found three cells hanging off the bottom of a brood frame!

Another close up:

A slightly angled view

At this point I was in a bit of a panic.  To put this in context: my biggest nightmare  is that they would swarm while we were out of town and that appears to be exactly what they intended to do.

So we moved some honey, the cells that were in the middle of the frames, and some undrawn foundation into a two super nuc box.  We also added a new super of undrawn foundation to the original hive.

I was terribly anxious when we went inside and just had this feeling that something wasn’t right.  I went inside and starting reading a bit.  I apparently had everything backward in my head.  The cells on the middle of the frame are supercedure cells and the cells on the bottom are swarm cells.  So, we moved them exactly backward!  To remedy, we suited up again and (contrary to the desire of the bees) we re-opened the hives and swapped the two brood frames.

So, I feel fairly confident about our choice now that we went back and corrected the mistake.  To be extra careful, I took our top bar hive and moved it across the yard and baited it with a little bit of honeybhealthy which contains lemongrass oil.  The hope is that if they do still swarm, maybe they can land in my other empty hive?  My luck hasn’t quite been that good lately, but things could turn around.  I now understand the grumpiness we’ve experienced the past two times we’ve visited with the bees.

The lonely yellow hive

I had read online sometime ago that you can’t/won’t have supercedure cells and swarm cells at the same time, but we clearly do.  I’m wondering if this is a sign of something I’ve done wrong, or just a really strong colony that needed a new queen?  It doesn’t seem like a strong colony could have a weak queen.  Maybe we are in the business of defying the odds?

I hope I still have at least one if not two healthy hives when we return and that my neighbors aren’t ready to kill us and/or our bees.

I’ll post pics of the quickly growing bee yard when we get back in town.


2 Responses

  1. Julia: Don’t feel bad. I had four swarm cells and moved them with brood, eggs and honey to a new hive. In one week’s time they tore some of the swarm cells down and made two supersedure cells. One week beyond that, the two supersedure cells turned to TEN supersedure cells. everytime I worry, I’m told not to panic, that the bees know more about what they’re doing than we do. I am giving my colonies some time to see what they’re going to do, and if I need to help, I will. Keep us informed as to what is happening! -Mark

  2. […] we were finally able to open the hive yesterday.  So it was a full 15 days between finding all the swarm/supercedure cells and taking a peek to see how things were going.  As soon as we opened it up, I once again knew we […]

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