Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cranky Bees

Hive 1 doesn't have a queen, as far as we can tell.

On Labor Day, we checked Hives 1 & 6 to see if the queens were released. Hive 6 had an empty queen condo, and the bees seemed content.

Hive 1, on the other hand, was Unhappy. The queen had not been released. Mark had been advised that 3 days was enough, and we'd waited 5, but the bees still hadn't eaten through the "candy" to release her. Mark moved the condo to see if he could find another queen in there, and in retrospect we should have followed the bees' cues. The workers mobbed the queen cage -- it was covered up to the point it wasn't visible. If we'd reviewed The Backyard Beekeeper beforehand, we would have known they were too aggressive . . . but we didn't, and we released her.

"There's a bee fight," Mark said, as soon as she got into the hive. They killed her. The suspicion is that they grew their own queen and therefore killed the intruder. So we closed up the hive with the air full of agitated bees, drove off still suited up in our veils, and figured we'd give them a week to calm down.

We went out this morning, and they're still cranky. This could mean that they don't have a queen at all, that the one they grew is still a virgin and isn't laying which is a problem, or that she's defective in some way. We noticed they've got supersedure cells again, some drone brood, and lots of big drone bees hanging around. They're clearing out honey, putting up pollen for the winter, and the brood that had been in there is hatching -- but no eggs. Hive 1 has a lot of bees, and they were stinging Mark's gloves and dive-bombing our veils. Again we drove off still suited due to some persistent followers keen on exacting vengeance.

Mark has called Harry Fulton, who just retired from MSU and is the president of the Mississippi Beekeepers Association. Hopefully he'll call us back with advice.

In the other hives, all appears to be well. Hives 4 & 5 have empty feeders, so we'll make them some more food. I tell myself that someday we'll know what we're doing, but right now ignorance is *not* bliss. I feel like a bad beekeeper, leaving carnage in my wake!

1 comment:

  1. You're an excellent Bee Blogger though. Blame the carnage on somebody else.