Tag Archives: laying worker

June 1st, 2013 – Part Two – OMG, someone else messed up. Or, the Red Queen is Dead.

1 Jun

Ok, moving along from the utter embarrassment and shame of ME messing up….

I keep bees at two farms, and on one the farmer decided (prior to the arrangement with me) to get a pair of packages and try keeping bees on her own.  She ignored them and they died out…that was last year.  This year, I’m keeping bees (Queen Cleo’s hive) up on her farm and she decided again that she wanted to get a pair of packages and she’s ignoring them…again.  In conversation she mentioned that she thought the queen had maybe died in one, it wasn’t doing well…could I look in.  I don’t keep a langstroth hive, but I know well enough what goes on, that I felt ok doing it.

I observed the entrances for a bit and determined that indeed, one hive was looking a lot sluggish.  They’ve been there for about 2 months and the empty package boxes were still at the entrance….which should have prepared me for what I found inside.

In the sluggish hive, I found a dead queen in a cage, spotty brood on one frame (laying worker) and bees starving to death head first in honeycomb.  Terrible.  Also the empty feed can in a deep super….still.

20130601-223328.jpgThe red queen is dead.

I closed them back up and then opened the second hive.

Same empty feed can in a deep super…an aluminum mixing bowl of dead bees…???!!??

20130601-223341.jpgWhat the what?

And then this:

20130601-223359.jpgShe’d clearly left too much room between a pair of frames and they went au natural…attached to nothing.  And they’re on three frames.  After two months…which makes me think that they’re probably honey bound.  Oy gevalt.

So I did the only thing I could think to do, which was stack the boxes with paper between them (a dsw bag, actually…because I’d been shoe shopping this morning…).  Slide the complete hive into the middle of where the two had been and hope for the best…?  Also, all of her inner covers have entrances in them….so there’s now a lower entrance (fully open), a middle entrance that will only go into the bottom box, and an upper entrance that will only go into the top box.

What a freaking nightmare.  I wonder if I should move the front frame to somewhere else in the hive?  Or if this is going to fix the problem…I can’t have made it worse.  I really, really, really want her to stop trying to keep bees, though…I’m hoping I can convince her of this.

I know she doesn’t want to actually “keep” bees, she just wants them on her property.  Anything I can do for this hive better or differently to hopefully get them to survive?  Other than steal them away in the night?

 

Do I have a laying worker and no queen? Part 1 – the Question.

21 Jun

I went out to look at my hive as soon as we got back from honeymoon expecting to see some building in the lower box on the hive.  It’s been nearly 3 months and there had been some action that looked like the beginnings of a bulge down there just before we left for the wedding:

The upper left is view into the bottom box that I thought was being worked on, the rest is upper box, some honey, some capped brood (although on second look, I think that’s all drone brood)….things looking really hopeful.  This was memorial day.

Three weeks later, still no action in the bottom box and combs that look almost…empty…in the upper box….no capped brood visible, no real major honey stores, and lots and lots of drones….or to my eye lots.  I took a video of the hive entrance – toward the middle you can start to see drones being pushed out or coming out, one after another after another.

You can also see one of the girls fanning her Nasanov glands.  I wonder that they should still be doing that after 3 months, but I don’t know enough to know.

If I have a laying worker – which all this could be a symptom of – the queen didn’t take after all and a hormonal gal just started filling in for her – unfortunately she’s only built to lay drone eggs, so lots of lazy dudes, no new industrious girls and a hive that’s doomed to failure unless I can appropriately intervene…..it’s a lot of pressure.

I contacted my teacher about my fears and he wants me to suit up, smoke ’em up, and open ’em up to see what I can see from the inside of the hive.  This will be my first time opening the hive, my first time lighting the smoker, and some real inexperience on the part of me in doing all this….so obviously, I’m going to try to make a video or at least take a bunch of pictures.   I’m not going to be able to get out there to do it until Saturday, so Part 2 will have to wait until then.

As far as I can tell, though, the best inervention method for this situation …if it is a situation… might mean getting a little creative.  I don’t have another hive from which I can “borrow” capped brood and some open eggs – which I’d need…and in a frameless hive, it’s not like I can stick in a lang frame with which to repair this – they won’t fit in my box – not so plug and play over here in warre land!  I think I’ll have to find someone willing to give or sell me some chunks of comb with brood on them and then attach them to the top bars in my warre box with a little creativity and some floral wire and hope that the bees accept them and then rear themselves a new queen.  If this sounds crazy to you….well…it is.

The one positive thing I can say from what I’ve observed is that they had a big Flight School day the other day -aka orientation flights.  I was out in the yard with the dogs and all of the sudden the hive got LOUD and when I looked up there were a TON of bees just flitting about around the hive.  Eventually they settled down and all went back in.  I thought they were swarming or worse! absconding! but I watched as they stayed quite close to the hive and did the characteristic circling motions and then seemed to all return to the hive – no dark beeline in the sky – just a happy little flying lesson.

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