Is there enough time to raise queens here?
So I did in-depth hive inspections on every hive today. Even with a ventilated suit, it was a lot of hot, heavy work I use 8 frame mediums to try to help with the weight. It's kinda muggy out today. I do keep my hives in partial shade, for better or worse, with nucs near the house for convenience, since they have to be fed a lot.
Hive A: first package I hived in April. Has one honey super on still, as I haven't had time to extract and don't have an extractor. I took one super off a month ago and did crush and strain for a few frames as well as distributed some honey between nucs. Looks to be doing very well. I noticed the brood space looks good but is smaller than it was, like the bees are already pushing the queen down. One SHB seen on the cover and squashed, no wax moths. I added a Beetle Blaster to see if any others are in there.
Hive B: second package. 6 boxes tall, with the top three chock full of capped honey, and it looks like they are backfilling the brood boxes. The queen in here is still going great guns, with bees bearding halfway up the stack all the time. Two SHB seen on inner cover with one escaping the hive tool hammer. I need to extract and/or give goodies to the nucs.
Hive C: and this is where the problems started. Sigh. This hive had a queen they raised back in May, and she was doing well the last time I saw her, about three weeks ago. Building up well. I've left them alone except for feeding since. But they had three QC, two capped, one with no visible larva in it. No queen to be found. It's a single 8 frame medium, SBB, without all the frames completely pulled out yet (I am feeding them). No eggs. No larvae. Population a bit smaller than it was but still OK. UGH. I saw one SHB strolling across the frames and dropped in a Beetle Jail to try to catch it.
Nuc 1: my problem child. Has been the victim of off and on robbing since the day I started it, even with robber screens on all hives, moving, etc. I saw the marked queen last night when I fed, and today, all the bees were gone, leaving behind a few capped brood, a few uncapped brood, and eggs. BOO. I am particularly upset at this queen's loss...she was a beautiful local Carni queen that cost me $37! And I love the way her offspring look...a gorgeous dark bee. She was doing ok, despite the constant issues, and I had just switched from syrup to fondant, in hopes of stopping the robbing. Sigh. SHB were seen, but no more than 5, but larvae were seen.
I wonder if they absconded...DH was outside and came in as I was gearing up to go work the bees saying there were a lot of bees around the nucs, but by the time I got the smoker going and went to look, there was no unusual activity noted.
Nuc 2: this local mutt queen is the bomb! She has laid up a 5x5 nuc full of hardy bees that are doing well. I fed them and left them to it. No SHB. I did notice the robbing screen has prevented them for removing dead bees...gross. I suppose I should take it off and sweep out the bodies tomorrow, after everyone has settled back down.
Anyhow....this is what I did:
I put the frames from Nuc 1 into hive C, which did leave them with completely pulled out frames for them to fill, some capped brood, some uncapped brood and the eggs from Nuc 1. I left two QC in hive C, one capped, the other the uncapped one. I took a frame of capped brood from Hive B and stuck it in Hive C to help bolster populations while they wait for a new queen. I did squish any SHB seen to minimize transfer of parasites.
I put one capped cell and a cupful of bees in a baby mating nuc as a back up. It's in the garage all closed up for now, and I'll open it on Wednesday and keep an eye on it.
I'd really like it if they raised a daughter queen from Nuc 1's eggs, but I know if one was raised that it would be 34 days away at best. Sigh.
But if they succeed in raising queens, will she have enough time to mate well AND get enough brood raised before winter? We usually have a frost in October. I know we would be looking at September for first eggs from a new queen now...isn't that cutting it too close? Would I be better off finding a local queen or combining with nuc 2?
I did see drones and capped drone brood in Hive A and B. I don't think the drone eradication effort has begun here.
Sorry for the story..it helped me get my thoughts in order.
It was such heavy work as I swear I walked back and forth between hives, nucs and the house about 50 times...like I didn't expect to need the baby nuc box...or a knife to cut out QC...or frames...or to have to carry nucs to the hives...LOL I now see why many beeks have a bee truck..
made it to the second year with three hives, zone 6b