Checking in With Hive #8

by Julie Tennis on August 30, 2012

The latest hive I’ve checked is number 8. It is one of my three weak hives that didn’t have any worker brood during my mid-August inspections. I was checking to see if the frames of brood I’d taken from hive 10 had resulted in any queen cells – I’m not sure. There was a deformed-looking queen cell that may have just been a pile of wax. I did discover a very sporadic pattern of laying in two of the frames in the top box. There were some eggs and some very young larvae (VYL) scattered around the frame – a pattern I’d expect from an old queen, not one who’d just been hatched this year! Perhaps I had laying workers?

After checking every frame in the top box I pulled it aside, setting it askew on top of the outer cover. And there crawling around on top of the frames of the bottom box was the queen! I took some video of her, from which I extracted the above photo.

There were no eggs or larvae in the bottom box, only some pollen. Interestingly, I let the queen go on the next frame I was about to pull. Even though I went through every frame in the bottom box, and even though there were hardly any bees down there, I never saw the queen again.

My questions from this session were “Why was the queen all by herself on empty frames?” and “Why is her laying pattern so awful?”

A possible answer to the first question is that it appeared that hive 8 was being robbed.

When I first began my inspection there were bees flying all around the hive and going in through the propped cover. I’d seen this in hive six a couple of weeks ago so I immediately put an entrance reducer in the front. When I was finished with my inspection I dropped the lid so that bees couldn’t go in through the top. Within minutes the agitated buzzing and extra bees flying around tapered off.

I wondered if the queen was hiding out on empty frames to avoid being murdered by maurading bees. I don’t know. Another reason for her to be off by herself is that she’s just awful and the workers don’t like her. She was huge, I can’t imagine she didn’t get bred. Ah, to be able to communicate in Apis. 🙂

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