Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Birth of a Queen?

So it has been a couple of weeks since I suspect that my one hive has swarmed...and nearly as long since I first noticed supercedure cells.  The need for supercedure (replacing an ill, ineffecient or in this case missing queen) came about becuase I destroyed all the swarm cells before realizing that the old queen had already left the hive.  My theory (or perhaps it is just hope) is that the worker bees immediately began creating supercedure cells and transferred a very young egg to this special cell.

Anyhow, I went back into this hive this evening and took it apart right down to the bottom level.  You can see that there are still quite a few bees which is a good sign...there were even worker bees still emerging from their cells that the old queen had laid before taking off.

I removed the regular bottom board to increase ventilation which will hopefully keep them from wanting to swarm again anytime soon.  I then went through all of the brood box frames to see if I could find any evidence of a laying worker - a common ailment in queenless hives.  I did not find any evidence thankfully!  Hopefully this means they are waiting patiently for a queen to be born.  I finally found a supercedure cell on a was fully closed so hopefully that means there is a queen developing inside and will hatch soon.  Here is a photo:

In the second/top brood box, I found even better news:
That is definitely a supercedure cell and it appears to be hatching.  I am not entirely sure if it was a queen that emerged or not as I did not keep it out long enough - wasn't sure if I'd cause it too much stress or if the bees would accept her with so much commotion.

Later on I did see another supercedure cell burst open before my very eyes and found a couple others with their bottom caps already missing.  I am really curious as to what will happen now that there appears to be multiple virgin queens within this hive.  From researching online, it sounds like they will either fight it out amongst themselves or the workers will eventually accept only one and will either drive off, starve or kill the rest.  In either case, it takes 3 days or so for the virgin queens to develop enough to take their one flight away from the hive...during which they'll mate with a whole swarm of drones from neighboring hives, collect enough sperm to last 5 years of laying 1000 eggs each day and then return to the hive to begin laying. 

This will all hopefully take place this next week while I am away on vacation.  I'll be checking the hive again real close when we get back from Michigan.  Hopefully I will find eggs and this hive will be back on track!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow... Brian and I are sitting here reading your blog and not believing it! Last week I was telling my co-workers that honey is bee vomit! This is fascinating!! -Tom