What could have happened to my queen? (1st year hive)
Chronology of my "interventions" in the past weeks:
June 8 (21 days ago) - did a full hive inspection, frame by frame through both hive bodies (and posted detailed photos here), lots of evidence of new egg laying, and all stages of larvae. First year package hive is booming, two deep 8-frame hive bodies close to full. I stopped feeding sugar and added my first honey super.
June 16 (13 days ago) - did not pull any frames in either hive body, I did have the honey super off the top so I could add a SHB trap to the top of the upper hive body (between frame top bars). I rarely see SHB in this hive, but adding the trap in the heat of summer seemed advisable based on what I have read.
June 23 (6 days ago) - poked around in upper hive body, pulled a few frames from top hive body, lots of brood, and scattered pockets of larvae in evidence, did not see any evidence of new laying on these 2-3 frames I inspected, but I was not too concerned as my queen has been rocking along producing great, I did spill the SHB-trap's mineral oil down onto the the frames (and bees) below, but I would not have thought that could be enough oil to drawn anyone on the frames below, or that the mineral oil spill could hurt the bees below?
June 29 (today) - Yikes! Went through most frames in both hive bodies, could not find ANY sign of new laying. I have some patches of uncapped medium-sized larvae - so my queen was at least laying here in the past 5-7 days? My bees were not exactly "mean" today, but they were more agitated than usual, the most displeased that I have yet seen them, I was stung today for the first time since I hived this package the first week of April.
My inspection on the 23rd was minimal and not rough, I only pulled a couple frames and only peeked into the top hive body, and didn't see signs of queen activity on those frames, so I assumed she was not nearby, and that I would not have rolled her between frames that day? All of my previous forays into the hive bodies and brood areas were long enough ago, that if I clumsily had damaged my queen then, I would not have the uncapped larvae that I have now...?
Also today, there was a bit of capped drone comb at the bottom of a frame in the top hive body, and two queen cups (not capped) at the bottom of this frame near/with the drone comb, built hanging off the side, but also down against the bottom bar of the frame. I let the bees keep the open queen cells when they build them, but since these were burr-comb-ish, hanging against the bottom of the frame, I scraped them off. None of the (few) queen cells/pods in my hive appeared to be capped, but when I scraped this burr-ish one I was just describing (with the drone comb) off the bottom of the frame, I pulled out a pupae (which, I *think* was from the drone comb and not from the queen cell - but this was also the first frame I pulled today, I did this scraping before I got into the hive and realized I don't seem to have ANY new laying activity, and before I started fearing for the condition of my queen). Now I am wondering if I have undone the girls attempt to create a new queen for themselves, if they are in fact now queen-less. If they have lost their queen, wouldn't I be seeing a lot of new queen cup building on the brood they had?
Lots of new bees have emerged in the past couple of weeks. I had much capped brood during the full inspection posted photos of on June 8th, so she has space to lay now (if she is still in there and healthy). After my hive was so jammed up with brood and nectar stores back in early June, is there a chance the hive is having her slow down on laying and that she is taking a little "break". It has been really hot here +100 frequently in the past week or two, (I do have screened bottom board and screened/vented inner cover on), and I understand that July/August is a down time here between typical spring and fall nectar flows - would the bees take a break in rearing brood during that down time - is there any chance my queen is still in the hive and okay? What could have happened to her in the hive (if I didn't damage her)?
What do you all think, do need to go buy/pick-up a new queen? I am pretty hopeless at finding my queen, obviously I didn't see her today, as well.
Last edited by bemocked; 06-29-2013 at 10:35 AM.
"Luck favors the prepared!"