Waiting for a queen

En maar wachten
En maar wachten

After making an artificial swarm from my main colony, by taking a portion of the colony and the queen and putting them in a separate temporary hive box, my main colony had to make a new queen. They already had started by making queen cells before I made the artificial swarm, which is a good indication you need to take action or they will do it for you. I removed those queen cells because you want to know when you can expect a new queen. They had comb with new eggs so there was ample opportunity to make a new queen.

A few days after making the artificial swarm and taking the queen I went back to see if they had reacted to the emergency supersedure by making emergency queen cells. The had, I had to go through the entire hive an decide which two queen cells I wanted to keep. I ended up keeping three, you don’t want to keep to many or you still end up getting a swarm because of to many queens hatching, which can happen.

After two weeks I came back to check if the queens cells were empty. They were completely gone, the workers had already cleaned them up. Looking for the queen at this stage is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Normally is tough to find a queen even if she is marked, but a new queen is even more difficult to distinguish from worker bees. So I didn’t even try. It was easier to wait until you find eggs. I thought that little more than a week would be enough time for a new queen to get impregnated and start laying eggs. Apparently that wasn’t, there were no eggs to be found. I found out later that in a larger colony it can take the queen longer to start laying eggs. I got slightly worried then as at that time I thought I was also having trouble with my colony from the artificial swarm, it seemed the workers were laying eggs (more on that later)… So I was in a situation where I thought I had no queens and no eggs, so no opportunity for the creation of new queens. The honeybee season was nearing the end so there was not a lot of time for a new queen to get impregnated as at the end of the season all the drones die.

Just to be on the safe side I got a comb with eggs from a fellow beekeeper to see if the bees would make emergency queen cells on that comb. If they didn’t then I could be quite certain that I had a queen. After a few day I checked and the new comb was free of emergency queen cells so I could be sure I had a new queen, panic averted. Next more panic…

Andrew

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