Marking Queens & More Swarming Attempts

This week has been overly humid in St. Louis. We've been getting about one good rain shower a week which has kept the grass, trees and plants much greener than last summer when everything was burnt to a crisp by now.

We waited to go look at our bees at Tom's place until Thursday when the weather broke and the humidity dropped.

Split Hive:
This hive has been working hard to bring their population up from the initial 5 frames of brood and honey it started from as a split earlier this year.

They're still drawing out frames, albeit slowly now that the summer is here and the major nectar flows have slowed way down.

The queen in this hive is still doing great, producing a solid brood pattern in every available cell she can find.

We gave them a second deep box last week since they had drawn out 9 frames in their lower box. When we checked on the newly provided second deep, we found they hadn't done much to it yet.

These guys may need some sugar syrup soon to help keep them producing wax and to draw out their second deep box.

Hive 3:
This hive is doing a great job of refilling their supers that we extracted from them a few weeks ago. Just look at how golden orange the super frame below is, filled with dark colored honey.

I like the excitement of early season, light colored spring honey, but darker summer/fall honey is definitely my favorite.

We put the super aside and looked through the deep box and found a few queen cells with larva and royal jelly inside.

They're fixing to swarm. Since none of the cups were capped, we cut them out.

The population in this hive is just right, if not slightly on the smaller side and I don't think we'd prefer to make another split from this one, so we will keep an eye on them again next week.

Hive 4:
This hive has been queen-less for a few weeks. We think they may have swarmed because we stopped seeing eggs and couldn't find the queen. Then we noticed an slight decrease in bee population. Not as much as I would expect with a swarm, but definitely a decrease.

They raised their own queen, but then we couldn't find her either.

We gave them another frame of eggs to see what they would do, and immediately they created 21 emergency queen cells with it.

Last week we checked on them and several queen cells looked like a queen emerged and several looked like they'd been stung through by a new queen. We figured we'd give the new queen(s) a week for mating flights and then we should be able to find her/them.

Today we found a queen! I say "a" queen because there may still be more than one queen in the hive.

We pulled her off of a frame and marked her with a dot of paint so we could identify her in future inspections. She's sitting in the queen marking tube in the top-left corner of the hive while her paint drys.

Here's a video I recorded last season of how to use a queen tube to mark a queen.

Once we were done looking through the rest of the hive we put her onto a frame where a group of attendant bees circled around her.

We watched her for a few minutes, and she appeared to dip her abdomen in a few cells to lay eggs. We looked and looked and could not find any eggs anywhere in the hive yet, even in the ones we watched her dip into.

We suspect she'll be laying any day and hope to see proof next week.

Comments For This Post: (3) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
PP says...
Date:   August 20, 2013, 9:57 am

Good documentation!! You would have given the queen cells from hive 3 to hive 4.
What type of paint do you use to mark the queen?


Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   August 20, 2013, 10:05 am

Hi PP,

I use the Uni Posca marker sold here by Dadant, and is available in most craft stores.

You can see a video of me marking a queen here, along with the color code chart to know what colors to use in what years, (although I always just use white myself).



PP says...
Date:   August 20, 2013, 11:47 am

Thanks, Chris.
Good info.

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