Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Queen shipment

The 6 Italian Queens I ordered from Rossman Apiaries several weeks ago arrived today. The "little brown truck" was at my doorstep about 9:30a.m. I immediately opened the package and inspected each and every one of the cages. I had 6 live Queens!

I decided to wait until after lunch to begin installing the Queens. I wanted the temperature to get above 60 degrees and also to see if it was going to rain. I have 3 hives with Queens of unknown age/viability that I want to replace. I also want to split each hive. This would require 6 Queens total.

Hive #1
This hive has a lot of "bee traffic" in/out and the population has increased a good bit over the past 6-8 weeks. I was amazed to find no Queen, no eggs, larvae, pupae, open or sealed brood in this hive. NONE. ZIP. ZILCH! Not even any Queen cells. There isn't any evidence of a Queen for atleast several weeks! I was also surprised to see the both 9 5/8" deep brood boxes are 70-80% filled with nectar/capped honey & pollen. Did the recent cold weather coupled with a lack of space for eggs prevent the Queen from laying? I re-checked and did NOT find a Queen. Oh Well! I removed the cork from the candy end of the Queen cage and placed it in the hive.

Hive #2
Several weeks ago this hive was by far my weakest. I'm certain this hive was Queenless for several weeks and decided to leave it alone and see what happened. Today I found little evidence of a Queen. I did find a couple of frames with eggs. No larvae, pupae, capped brood. This hive looked just like Hive #1. I did find a Queen! She appeared to be a bright golden brown and moved very quickly across one of the frames. Was this a young Queen that just recently mated? Would that explain the lack of brood and just a few freshly laid eggs? What is going on with my hives? I removed her from the hive and placed her into a nuc box. I placed a new Queen in this hive and moved to the next.

Same damn thing! Hive booming with population & full of nectar, pollen & capped honey. No eggs, larvae, pupae, capped brood. Can't find the Queen either. At this point my lower back is killing me. I checked again and didn't find the Queen. What is going on here? I placed a caged Queen in the hive and closed it back up.

As you can tell, today isn't going very well. I intended to kill the 3 existing Queens in each hive, replace them with 3 new Queens, split each hive and use the remaining 3 Queens. This would have been perfect. I used 3 Queens, couldn't find 2 older Queens, found 1 older Queen, and I have 3 left over. I couldn't find ANY brood in ANY hive so I can't make a split. I did put the one Queen I found in hive #2 in to a nuc. She's suspect at best. I don't know if she's a young, recently mated Queen or one of the older Queens. I suspect she's a new Queen. I don't know how viable she is. I will take her & the 3 other new Queens to my other beeyard and hopefully make splits. I really don't want to split them because of the Spring nectar flow....but oh well. Heck, I may get down there and find they're in the same shape as these.

How can these hives get in this shape so quickly? What exactly happened? Did I overlook 2 Queens? If so, why aren't they laying? Where's all the brood? Where is the current population coming from? What will happen if I did overlook a couple of Queens and the new Queens get released in to that hive? Who will win out? The new Queen or the old???

This beekeeping thing isn't as easy as everyone makes it appear to be ! ! !

I would love some input from some of the blog readers!


Anne said...

I don't have any answers, just some questions. When was the last time you did see evidence of laying queens in your three hives – earlier this spring or not since last fall? If not since last fall, maybe the cool weather (which I think you have had down south also) is keeping things at a standstill? I don't know when hives in Georgia normally get up and running in spring. I'm curious why you are keeping the two old queens you did find. If you are going to go through the trouble and risk of making splits, is it worth using possibly poor queens when you have extra new queens as it is?

Chris said...


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

I saw evidence of Queens as recent as 4-6 weeks ago. I haven't done a thorough inspection since. I wanted to "leave the hives alone" and not disturb them. I'll know better next time!

I only found one Queen in Hive #2 and this was the hive I know was Queenless several weeks ago. She appeared to be very young and was a beautiful, bright golden color. I found very few eggs in that hive and am pretty certain she just started laying in the last couple of days. I'm not sure of her viability, how well she mated naturally, etc... I decided to put her in a nuc and see what happens. I only made the one split and it's probably not going to make it.

I spoke with my mentor and he's suggested going to my other yard where I have 4 hives that are really booming and making 4 splits out of those. That will use my remaining 3 new Queens and the Queen I found in Hive #2.

All in all.....I think I'll be OK. This is going to set me back several weeks and is a valuable lesson. It will also reduce the honey production on the 4 hives I have at the other location.

The brood chambers on all 3 hives (6 deeps total) were 70-80% full of pollen, nectar & honey. If I had several frames of egg & brood in each hive I would be well on my way to a decent honey crop!

Oh well! A hard lesson learned is one you won't soon forget. Right?

Anonymous said...


Fascinating stuff! I have a question. My wife took liquid propolis (couple of drops under the tongue) when we lived in Europe to counteract allergies.

Do you know a source for Georgia-farmed liquid propolis? Or someone we could ask?

Thanks, Dan (