My hesitance to post about my bees was simply due to the fact that I didn’t want to jinx the girls before they had a chance. (My poor Chickens….) While I have not done an inspection since my split, I feel fairly safe in saying that the split indeed was successful, and I again have three hives!
A split is simply where you take a strong, healthy bee hive, and turn it into two hives. After a little internet research and a couple conversations with some fellow beekeepers, I was certain I had the process down pat. The only problem was finding the Queen. With 30,000 + bees in the hive coming out of winter, actually locating the Queen is like finding a needle in the haystack!
Two weeks ago today, I opened up Hive 1 (H1) to see if the Queen had started laying eggs again. Over the winter, the hive’s only job is to stay alive. The worker bees cluster around the Queen, eating stored honey, their bodies shivering. The shivering creates heat and thus, keeps the hive and Queen warm during the cold days.
Around February, the Queen will start laying eggs again, increasing in number through March. When I opened the hive on Saturday the 21st of March, not only did I see full frames of brood (baby bees) in their various stages, but I located the Queen! The hive looked excellent, at least from my amateur point of view.
Mama Bee was on the third frame in, and since her entourage started getting a bit pissy, I had to act fast. I carefully placed her frame, and the surrounding five frames full of brood and nurse bees, into the empty H2. Because I had dropped her highness’s hive down to only a few frames of bees, I put the entrance reducer in, with the smallest opening available, and fed them about two gallons of my special sugar-water blend. The sugar water will help the girls draw out more honeycomb for their brood and pollen/honey stores.
As far as my Queenless H1… IF there was brood that was less than three days old, and I am certain that there was due to the full brood frames and various stages of bees, then the remaining bees will raise several Queens out of these brood, in elongated peanut-looking cells. The first Queen to emerge will kill the rest of her sisters, and then set to work mating with a drone and laying eggs. It takes 21 days for a Queen to hatch, so I will stay away from H1 on my next inspection, to give them time to do their thing. I also fed them my sugar-water mixture to help with the requeening process, although not as much as H2 due to most all of their frames pulled out.
And last, but not least, H3 looked excellent during its inspection. Full frames of brood in all stages of development and I spotted the Queen in this hive as well! I decided not to do a split with this hive because it wasn’t as strong as H1, but I should have bought a lottery ticket that afternoon! Two Queen spottings in the same day! I swapped the top and bottom brood boxes, to help draw her highness to the other brood box to help with her laying.
** Bee Trivia… Did you know that worker bees forage up to FOUR MILES for pollen? That is quite a distance for such a little body! **