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Triumph

It's been a couple of weeks since I've been able to do much else than feed the hive, so I was very excited that today provided an opportunity to stay home from the office, beautiful weather, and time to inspect. My husband and I made a bunch of new top bars, of much higher quality than the ones we originally crafted. We cut a small trench through the middle, and I attached 2" strips of small cell wax foundation as guides (with one deeper one nearly 4" to get the new stuff started). 2 weeks ago, I removed a few of the old top bars and replaced them with the new bars to get the cross-combing fixed...and IT WORKED!! Peeks inside the observation window seemed to show straight bars and the pics below are of the three combs that have been built on the new bars, beginning from the one most outside to the one next to original bars. The next bar in was looking much better, too. So, it looks like I'm on my way to having a properly inspectable hive!





Near Tragedy

I closed everything up, packed up my gear (see my cool new work table? We made it this weekend from scrap lumber), and then did my usual end-of-inspection walk around the hive, staring at entrances. I noticed something odd...there were a bunch of bees on the ground, looking very active, scrambling to a stalk of grass. I thought perhaps there was water or something on it, but chalked it up to weird bee behavior. As I was getting ready to leave, I decided a picture of the cluster would be a better idea, and maybe you all would have an idea of what was going on. I focused the camera, leaning in to get a better look, then saw the unexpected -- a green dot on the back of a bee! The queen was out:eek:! My clipped, shouldn't be able to fly queen was somehow nearly a foot and a half from the entrance to the hive. This explained the cluster -- the bees were her attendants. I rushed back in the bee yard, took the roof back off, removed a single bar, and ever-so-carefully plucked the grass stalk she was on and placed her back in the hive. No, I did not stop to get a picture!


Questions

(1) Do you have any idea how the queen got out? Was she in the front porch (see pic below) and somehow got dislodged? (Okay, I know you cannot possibly answer that, but does that seem possible?) Did they kick her out? I did not go into the brood nest today, so didn't look for queen cells, but I saw no signs indicating supercedure (assuming I'd know what I was looking at). The bees were calm, buzzing gently and steadily, there was no roaring that would indicate a missing queen.
This is the "Front Porch" -- an in-hive feeding station that has become a favorite exit spot for the hive. I don't know why the queen would've been in this area. There is no sign of comb there and I always check the bar that covers the porch when I remove it. There are usually bees on it, but I didn't see the queen.

(2) You probably noticed that all of the new comb appears to be capped honey. It did not look like brood comb -- the wax caps were snowy white and fairly flat. I'm guessing that I do not need to be feeding anymore:applause:. This is honey largely based on sugar syrup, so not stuff I was planning on harvesting, but I'm curious if I should be concerned that it looked like capped nectar and not more brood? There are 10 bars of brood comb (most of which is cross-combed, though only on one side). In case it matters, right now is not a great time for foraging -- not as bad as late summer, but there's a lull between March and June...things are just starting to pick up. Maybe the queen just slowed down in response to available food?

(3) The 10 bars of brood nest that are cross combed are going to be a mess to completely break apart. Should that be a goal? On another thread, I read to let the cross-combed brood comb be, and gradually move it to the back of the hive, to become honey stores, then harvest. Is that a good plan? I'm guessing that I'd slowly move the whole clump over, filling the open space with the newly built straight comb, just a bar at a time every few weeks. Our next dearth period is late summer (July-August), followed by the autumn months which are usually good months, then some downtime in Dec-Jan, with "spring" beginning in earnest in February (barring bizarre weather). My goal should be to have the cross combed conglomerate moved to the back of the hive by September, where it can be used for storing nectar -- does that sound right?

Thank you all so much! I am SO excited that straight comb is getting built:D -- thank you to all the people who've mentioned books, because it was Wyatt Mangum's book that specifically helped me build the comb guides using wax foundation and Mr Bush's suggestions that helped me stay calm through the process.
 

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Could the clump have fallen from one of the bars you inspected? Good questions... I'll let the more seasoned bee folk answer those. Good luck!
 

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Could the clump have fallen from one of the bars you inspected? Good questions... I'll let the more seasoned bee folk answer those. Good luck!
I wondered the same, but the inspection stand was placed on the hive, precisely so that if bees were dislodged, they'd fall onto top bars. Bee keeping has ever so many interesting mysteries!
 

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I am not a top bar guy-I keep langs but if I were sure that I did not accidently drop her in the grass I would assume a swarm. Its really easy to miss a queen cell (or even a bunch of cells) especially when they are covered with bees. One of the difficulties I see with top bars is the comb is not supported so you have be more careful when you manipulate the comb.
I have never used clipped queens but I seem to remember reading that you might have to put her back several times. Maybe some one with experience with clipped queens can comment.
good luck
 

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I have never used clipped queens but I seem to remember reading that you might have to put her back several times. Maybe some one with experience with clipped queens can comment.
good luck
Hmm -- I had not heard that. Good to know!
 

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Pretty sure I heard that too. I heard if they superscede a clipped queen she has to just crawl away. I had a friend catch a swarm in the grass 10 ft in front of his hive. he gave it to me, I caught her out twice, close to the hive and then lost her the third time. she wasnt clipped but obviosly couldnt fly. Good Luck. G
 
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