What to do now ?
Ok, so the story is a bit long, but, me and the significant other took up bees this spring as the 'new hobby', and we are loving it so far, so much to learn, and it has turned out to be quite a fun / learning experience to date. I've been devouring the hints on the forum here now for a couple months, and, have picked up lots and lots of tidbits.
On april 19 we put packages into 3 hives to start. Two of them are located on a farm, 1/2 kilometer from our house, and they are doing great, they loved the bloom when the 14 acres of holly they are set in all started to flower. Both hives have built out about 6 frames in the second box, which went on when they had finished 8 frames in the first box, all deeps. The hive here at the house, not so good, mostly due to a newbie mistake when we introduced the queen. Long story short, the queen died, and it took over a week before we got a replacement in with them, wasn't a lot of bees left when we did that, but they have been dilligently working, and now have roughly 2 frames built, and are indeed starting to build a bit faster now.
So, after reading lots here, our plan last weekend was, head to our strong hives, steal a frame of brood and a frame of pollen from each, take those frames back to the house and give the weak hive a boost just before the blackberries start to bloom. The hives here at the house are on the edge of a very large blackberry patch. But, we had a bit of a 'Plan B' in mind, if we found queen cells in the hives down below, take the frame with queen cells, and put the 4 into a box of thier own, see if we can get the gals to raise a queen and start a fourth hive. I bought a cardboard nuke box from local bee supply place to make moving frames in the car feasable.
Last sunday we went down to the farm, and opened up the stronger hives. Second box had lots of brood in both hives, and, the queen was busy on the frames in the top box in both of them. When we looked in the bottom box, both hives had capped queen cells, so, we took a frame with brood, and a capped cell from one, along with a frame of brood from the other. Both hives donated a frame of pollen / honey, and everything went into the cardboard box for the trip back up to the house. All of the frames of bees got a light misting of 1:1 before going into the box. When we got to the house, instead of putting those frames into the weak hive, we put them in an empty box, and placed it about 20 feet from the weaker hive with a top feeder. All 4 frames got another light misting of syrup when I transplanted them from the cardboard nuke to the wooden box.
Things we noticed immediately, the bees were definitely acting up, somewhat disturbed by the move. The new hive had quite a 'roar' sound to it, and man could those gals clean up the syrup in a hurry. They took 2 liters overnight, 4 liters on monday and another 4 on tuesday. On wednesday they took 2 more. On monday, it looked like they may be fighting a bit in front of the entrance, with same on tuesday, just not as much. Wednesday I saw no sign of fighting, and, a number of drones coming out to fly. That hive was still definitely louder than all the others, quite a roar actually.
This morning (friday) I went out to check the feeder, and, they still had some syrup in there, so, I guess they dont want it anymore. Not surprising, the blackberries started to flower on wednesday. The other big difference I see this morning, only a few bees clustered around the entrance, lots of bees coming and going, and the roar is gone. So, capped queen cell went in on Sunday, and we have no idea how long that cell had been in the donor hive. By my figuring, it could be ready to emerge anytime from Monday till the following Tuesday. This morning the hive has quieted very noticeably, but it is a bit cooler than it has been for a few days. Is the sudden and dramatic change in the sound from this hive an indication that a queen may have emerged from that cell ??
My original plan when we put these frames in the new box, dont look for 3 weeks, then check it for any sign of a queen. If there is a queen, all is good for this one. If not, newspaper combine with our original weak hive, roughly mid july, before we move them out into the fireweed. If this new hive is queen-right, then we will probably steal a couple more frames from the original donors for the weak hive before it moves out to the fireweed.
So, now the question all this leads up to. Should I do anything for the new hive, or, stick to the plan and just leave it ? Particularily this morning when I realized it's not making the noise it has been, curiousity is trying hard to get the best of me. If we do pop the cover off and look, what am I looking for that would tell me definitively that a queen has emerged from the cell?
Re: What to do now ?
Expect 2 weeks from the time the queen cell 'hatches' until you have a mated queen and start seeing eggs. I'd wait a week and check to be sure she is out. If you see her - OK, but don't disturb too much. Once you know she's out - allow 2 weeks for eggs or larvae.
Not surprising that the queenless box is somewhat testy. Drones are good - means the new queen has at least some hope of 'getting lucky.'
Keep us updated on your progress.
Re: What to do now ?
Originally we were wondering what to do next, and, concerned that we had possibly taken to much from 'new' hives that started from packages only 2 months ago.
Originally Posted by TriJim
We were wrong, we didn't take to much, turns out we didn't take enough. Both hives swarmed yesterday. The first one went before we got down to the farm to look in on them. Original plan was to see how they were coping after we stole brood and honey frames from them last week. All week we have been wondering if we were pushing the hives to hard by stealing so much from young hives. Well, they answered that question. When we got down to the farm, saw a swarm on a low branch in one of the holly trees, so I raced back to the house and grabbed the cardboard nuke. That swarm easily shook into the cardboard nuke with a few frames in there, and they seemed to take to it right away. I left it sitting on top of the step ladder I used to get up and shake them down, within 20 minutes we saw bees coming back with pollen and heading into the entrance. But that was only the beginning.
Just as I was stepping off the ladder from catching the first swarm, we heard a bunch of buzzing over at the hive stand, sure enough, bees were marching out of the other hive by the thousands. They balled on another holly tree on the other side of the hives. We didn't have any more boxes to try catch them, so, spent a couple hours racing around to gather up woodenware, and eventually got a brand new box sitting on a small portable table just under the swarm. It only took a few minutes and the bees were inspecting the new box by the hundreds. We didn't have a deep, but that box was a stack of two mediums, with plastic frames, all freshly sprayed with 1:1, and a swarm lure in there. After supper I finally located a ladder tall enough to let me get up to the ball, which was still sitting in the tree, and shook the vast majority of them into a bucket, which I dumped into the new box sitting there. I checked this morning, and, they seem to have fully 'moved in', no more bees left in the tree, and lots of activity at the entrance.
So, the original plan was to get our 3 hives strong enough to get thru the winter, then do walk-away splits next spring, ending up with our final target of 6 hives next summer. The bees jumped the gun on us, and did 'fly away splits', which we caught. So, now we have our 6 hives, and, just have to see that they all get built up enough to get thru the winter....