The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Signs of a queen-right hive

Queen cell

In my last bee post, I explained how I split our hive in an attempt to prevent a swarm. However, due to the less-then-movable frames in our Warre hive, I wasn't sure where the queen had ended up and whether the other hive had the potential to make a queen of their own.

So, five days later, I decided to take another peek inside each hive. What I found was reassuring. In the old hive (not pictured), I was able to wiggle one frame loose in the middle of the brood chamber and found a few eggs. Since honeybee eggs hatch out into larvae three to four days after being laid, this is proof that I have a laying queen --- almost certainly the original queen --- in the old hive.

The other hive resisted my efforts to pry loose a frame without unduly tearing the comb. So I had to take another approach to hunting for queens inside that hive. Assuming the old Hatched queen cellqueen was in the old hive, my best chance for this hive would be if queen cells were present and ready to hatch into new queens. Luckily, queen cells often show up on the bottoms of frames, so they're relatively easy to hunt for by simply sliding the box over to the edge of the hive and peering up underneath.

Sure enough, a peek up through the bottom of our new hive's brood box showed both hatched and unhatched queen cells. Since this hive will have to wait about three weeks for the virgin queen to mate and then begin to lay, it's a good thing I accidentally included most of the capped honey in this hive. In the meantime, it might be a smart idea for me to feed the daughter hive since nearly all of  the foraging workers stayed with the mother hive and there will continue to be fewer workers present in the daughter until the new queen begins to lay.

So it looks like luck was with me --- I have two queen-right hives and the mother hive still has the potential to sock away a lot of honey this year since she didn't lose as many workers as she would have during a swarm. I guess it's a good thing my honeybee purchases fell through this spring after all since I ended up doubling the number of hives in my apiary the old-fashioned way!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I am always fascinated by the bee posts. I would like to add some hives to our little homestead here, but frankly am intimidated by the whole thing. I feel like it requires this vast amount of knowledge and I just dont feel confident I can do it right. additionally, we have an honest to goodness bear problem right now. A sow with two cubs who dens annually in the forest behind my pasture, and wanders through rrgularly, and now a big male who has broken into my neighbor's porch and ripped a feeder from our house, and left VERY LARGE footprints across our garden. Even with firing a high caliber weapon over his head, he is not intimidated. I am not sure even an electric fence around a hive would stop him. So i keep putting off the bees... but i am happy your split turned out so well!

Comment by Deb Tue Jun 9 07:57:28 2015
Can you hear any piping in the hive with multiple queens running around?
Comment by Jake Wed Jun 10 02:11:23 2015

Deb --- A bear is a tough predator to have! We're lucky that our hives are close to our house and our dog patrols regularly. So any bears in the area keep their distance.

Jake --- Good question! I'd forgotten about piping. I'll have to put my ear up to the hives and see if I can make that out.

Comment by anna Wed Jun 10 20:55:28 2015

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