The Queen is Dead? Long Live the Queen!

A little over two weeks ago we obtained our first colony of bees via a route I hadn’t quite planned on. Armed with a saw, crowbars and various other pieces of equipment we extracted from the wall of a house. When we were done we were not sure whether we had gotten the queen or not. Since installing them in a Langstroth hive the bees have been coming and going, bringing in pollen which is an encouraging sign.

Yesterday we finally opened the hive for the first time to see what was really going on in there. The anticipation was killing me. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but considering how it was established, we weren’t surprised. One of the two boxes of frames had only empty cells and capped brood we presumed was dead since the bees weren’t on that comb to speak of at all. In the other box we did find nectar and honey stores, lots of workers, lots of drones, and no eggs or larvae. We also found queen cells!

The queen cells we saw were opened on the side like these two. This is the result when the first queen emerges and then goes around destroying her rivals. It means that there may be a virgin queen wandering around in the hive. The weather here has been cool and overcast for a while now. If she’s in there, Mary, or perhaps we should say Mary II should come out on a mating flight some sunny day and then eventually start laying eggs. This would be the ideal outcome of this situation since that would perpetuate the genes from the queen that had a hive survive through the winter. I’m crossing my fingers and hope to report good news before the end of May.

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4 thoughts on “The Queen is Dead? Long Live the Queen!

  1. Next time you open the hive, be real attentive to the sound the bees make. Avoid smoke and operate as smoothly as possible, and listen. If they are queenless you will hear it. (maybe you know already – its been a couple weeks) But don’t let them go much longer if you don’t know for sure there is a queen or you will have laying workers, and that’s lots harder to fix! Most likely all is well!

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