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  • Kathryn Allard

Bee Adventures - Part 7

July 24, 2020

I noticed two orange specs (balls of pollen, maybe) on the varroa tray, and it made me think that a treatment will need to be applied soon (more reading on the subject!). I noticed some drone cells, which are bigger than normal bee cells.

Picture : Perfect Bee

NOT to be confused with queen cells, which are huge and a sign the bees are looking to rear a new queen. Either the one they have is dead, a meanie, not producing well, sick or has left the hive. Of queen cells, there are 3 types : Supercedure, Emergency and Swarm.

- Supersedure cells can be anywhere in the brood nest area. But, you will most often find them on the face of the comb – not the bottom.

- When the queen is lost suddenly, emergency cells are constructed anywhere young larva are available.

- A strong honey bee colony is likely to produce swarm queen cells in the Spring. But, it can happen at any time during the warm months.

Picture : Honey Bee Suite

Honey bee swarming is a natural occurrence for bees. It is reproduction of the colony.

When a colony swarms, a queen (usually the old one) and about half the population of bees leave. They will travel to a new location that has been selected by scout bees to establigh a new hive.

But what about the bees left in the original location? Surely, they need a queen too! Yes, they do.

Before the swarm leaves, numerous queen cells are constructed. These are called swarm cells because their construction is part of swarm preparations.

Once the developing queen larva are mature and ready to emerge, the swarm leaves.

In the next day or so, a new queen will emerge from one of the cells. She kills the other queens still trapped inside and becomes the leader of the colony.

So, the question to ask my friends, is: What stage of evolution are we at in our hive ?

Swarming is ok, as long as you are equipped - mentally and physically - to gather the swarm. They usually opt for trees, so it is difficult to access the new colony. Branch cutting, box preparing, people panicking... Swarms are gentle - so they say - therefore containing it and placing it in a new brood box = easily a new hive ! More bees, more honey,.... !!

I also saw eggs and larvae! Exciting, because they are very tiny, and difficult to see for a new beekeeper. By placing a frame horizontally, sun back to you, you can see them better. Shiny and white.

Picture : Wikipedia

Six of the frames were full and capped with new bees to hatch, and a lot of new comb on the back of the other frames. Richard took some pictures. I am always afraid to tilt a frame too much and possibly lose the queen, but technically, she is surrounded and protected by other bees tending to her, so unless I'm very clumsy, she should be fine. (HAve you noticed, dear reader, that I present problems to you, then talk myself out of it ??? But, hey, you are my beekeeping diary, after all...)

With so many bees, I am afraid they need more room. That they'll swarm. So I ordered a medium height honey box, and 10 frames, a bee brush, and a queen excluder to put on top of the brood box. It's basically a screen which prevents the queen from going upwards. The slots are too small for her to pass through, but big enough for worker bees. So, the bees move up and along the frames, making comb and honey, while the queen stays below laying eggs, but not in the honey frames. Prrrrettty smart.

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