Bee update: maiden flight?

We had a few minutes today before leaving for Spring Daze in Cary so we decided to do a quick hive inspection.  As soon as we opened the nuc, I knew something was wrong.  The buzz from the hive was different than usual, and the girls seemed quite agitated.  Inside we found frames of honey, but absolutely no brood.

Frame from hive with no brood

Unfortunately, the large hive was the same.  The bees who are normally so gentle and friendly were actually flying up at us without significant provocation and inside we found this:

Honey and pollen, but no brood.

Since I couldn’t steal a brood frame to move into the nuc, we closed both boxes up and unsuited.  I started trying to figure out the dates in my head and played a lovely game of bee math.  Assuming my numbers are correct, here’s what I decided:

Queen piping – April 20th (I’m assuming that the queen had not yet emerged)

Emergence – 1 – 2 days later – April 2oth – 21st

Egg laying – 12-17 days – May 2nd – May 7th

That allows time for the maiden flight and for her to return and have a day or two to begin laying.  From what I read, we basically checked the large box too early.  Most beekeepers will wait at least 15 days after emergence to look for activity.   So, I’m not panicking.  Yet.

The nuc, on the other hand, is obviously queenless.  If a queen were to have returned, she should have started laying already.   We’ll likely add those bees back into the big hive the next time we open it up.

I’m regretting our lack of diligence in early spring.  Lesson learned.  Again.

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