So, yesterday was an exciting bee day for me and I must tell you about it.
Today we are departing on our family vacation in beautiful Mexico. (Incidentally, dont’ believe anything that would lead you to believe that the resort areas of Mexico are anything but a wonderful and lovely.) But, back to the bees.
Yesterday was filled with activities to prepare my various agricultural concerns for me to be gone for just over a week. This included adding syrup to my hive and installing a pollen patty. Whenever I open a box I can’t help but look at a few frames because I find the whole bee process so fascinating. I pulled out the first hive. LOTS of honey. No brood or eggs. Hmmmmm. Pulled the next frame. No brood or eggs. That’s strange. Next frame, the same thing. I went all the way through the top box. No brood. Lots of honey. I started through the bottom box. I got about halfway through when the thought finally sunk in. I have a problem. I may not have a queen. I’m leaving tomorrow. When I get back, this hive will be all but kaput.
I immediately messaged the mom of one of my employees who is a more experienced beekeper than I am. She agreed that I have some kind of a problem and that if I didn’t want to lose the hive, that I needed to rectify it before leaving.
I called Texas Bee Supply as soon as they opened to ask if they had any queens available. They didn’t, but they gave me the name of someone not too far from me who did have queens recently. I contacted him and explained my situation. He said he couldn’t sell me a queen by itself, but that he did have nucs or hives available. We discussed it and decided that the best course of action would be to go with a hive since I don’t have any extra woodenware laying around.
He even decided that it would be better if he met me at my pasture since his bee yard isn’t that far from me and I drive a Honda CR-V so he would have had to prepare the hive to be inside an enclosed vehicle. At 3:30pm we met at my pasture, new queen and hive in tow.
I asked him if, since he was there, if he would mind taking a look at my hive to give me his opinion about what was happening. He graciously agreed. We fired up the smoker and opened up the hive.
Believe it or not, he found the queen!
It looks like what happened is that my hive was what they call “Honey Bound”. It’s when the bees use much of the available space to store honey and the poor queen isn’t left any room in which to lay her eggs. So, she was hanging around with no where to do her job.
In order to remedy the problem, here’s what we did. Let’s call my original two box hive, “Hive A”. We took the top box off of Hive A and put it on top of the newly purchase “Hive B”. We put a sheet of newspaper between the two hives with slits, which is supposed to help the two populations of bees have a more gentle introduction to each other. Then, I took the only woodenware I could quickly get my hands on (a shallow 10 frame honey super) and put it on type of the original Hive A.
With any luck, the workers in Hive A will build out the frames in the new honey super which would give that queen space to lay some eggs. I’m not supposed to check on them for a least a week, which is handy since I’m not going to be in the country anyway.
When I get back, I’m supposed to get ahold of two deep boxes. I’ll put one deep box between the top and bottom box of each hive. This will give each hive room to grow. We also dumped out the whole 2.5 gallon feeder of syrup so that the bees would have to eat some of what they have stored in the hives.
So, time will tell. Will the queen in Hive A start laying again? How will the bees in the new Hive B get along? Stay tuned.