Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bee inspection- replacing a queen and starting a nuc colony

About 2 weeks ago, we did a bee inspection and noticed that the bees in hive 2 (Slytherin) were bearding on the front of the hive and sounded really agitated. Sometimes they do this if it's really hot inside the hive, but once we opened up the hive we realized something else was going on. 

Once we started the inspection we understood why they were so agitated. We didn't find any eggs or larvae, which means their queen was most likely dead. 

This spotty broad pattern is another sign that things in the hive are not okay. Sometimes an unusual broad pattern can indicates a bad queen, but in our case it indicated that their was no queen. 

We checked all frames, but could not locate a queen, but we did find what we believe to be an emergency queen cell. We could have left the emergency queen cell and allowed the bees to raise a new queen, however we decided to move the queen cell into a 5 frame nucleus hive and requeen hive 2 with a local queen we were able to get from the bee association. This way they would have a new queen right away and be able to get back to maintaining the hive much quicker.

The new queen was introduced in a special queen cage (to keep the hive from killing her) and within a few days they had released and accepted her.  She is a marked queen and much easier to find than the unmarked ones. This week we'll be finding and marking all our queens. 

The emergency queen cell was moved to a nucleus hive with some frames of brood, larvae and worker bees. We are hoping to establish a nuc colony.  

Kenan has been building and painting more nuc boxes so that we can create more nucs. 'The term “nuc” is short for nucleus colony. A nucleus colony is just a very small colony of a few thousand bees and a queen. Reasons for maintaining a nuc: If one of your hives goes queenless, you have another queen ready to go. If you wait for your colony to re-queen itself, the population will drop such that you won’t get any surplus honey for that year. You can re-queen at times of the year when queens are unavailable to purchase. You can use the bees in a nuc to boost populations of a weak hive. If you don’t want to re-queen, you can just transfer some of the frames from your nuc into the weak hive. In addition, having an empty nuc box on hand is useful for catching swarms or removing extra bees from an overcrowded colony.' info taken from https://honeybeesuite.com 

We are hoping to start raising our own queens and have several nucs on hand. We'll be able to sell these or keep them to create more hives.  This has been such a good learning experience and we are constantly learning! Hoping we'll be able to pull a little honey this year, although you don't typically get a lot the first year. This year is more about learning, growing  and maintaining our hives.

We'll be doing another inspection in about a week and i'm hoping to have nothing but good news to report!


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