A Tale of Three Hives
Due to the loss of a hive in March, I was down to one hive, and that one headed by a swarm queen at least two years old. I was planning to requeen and do a split as well, so I would be back to two hives. But procrastination left the call to the queen suppliers a bit late, and there weren’t any queens readily available.
I did notice that the hive (Hive 1) wintered very well, and in late August was showing serious signs of wanting to swarm. But without a new queen I didn’t see any easy way of preventing it, and so just daily looked for a swarm. The swarm took flight mid September and I captured it easily enough about 10 metres from the home hive. We’ll call this “Hive 2”.
Late September I noticed that Hive 1 was showing signs of wanting to swarm again, so I continued to check daily. On the 2nd of October, sure enough I caught a second swarm from the same spot the first swarm landed. I checked the hives a week later and fed my newly captured Hive 3.
Now the neat thing about beekeeping is the amazing things you discover or perhaps just appreciate in watching the processes. Late in October I had a good look through all the hives, and discovered all three in very different states, but all three totally healthy and vibrant as they worked through their conditions. Hive 1 had the youngest queen. A virgin queen. She was seen, but there was absolutely no brood, a good number of bees but a very high percentage of drones inhabiting the hive. Hive 2 had the first swarm queen and hence the old queen. In this hive there was very little brood, and what was there was all capped and 50% drone brood. A seriously failing queen, but low and behold a beautiful peanut sized supersedure cell in the middle of the hive. The bees were busy and active. The old queen was going to be put out. Hive 3 had the second swarm queen and she had been out some six weeks now. She was laying furiously. Three frames of solid packed brood, with one frame of uncapped eggs and larvae.
So I now had three good working hives, from a precarious position of one hive with an old queen. From zero to hero by leaving it to nature.
Just as a follow-up, with my check this weekend gone, the supersedure proceeded smoothly and the Hive 2 new queen is laying well in a nice tight pattern and the Hive 1 queen is also laying well with five good frames of brood. Hive 3 is growing quickly and I added a box of drawn frames to give the new queen lots of room to lay. Ain’t it great!