Hopelessly Queenless

Hive 2

Finally a beautiful day for bee inspections. We are gaining in confidence and competence with handling skills, not nearly so many bees inadvertently squashed! However, lighting the smoker is not our forte and was beyond us nearly all afternoon, in fact the only time it going we didn’t need to smoke the bees and it was just drifting steadily into my lungs from the sidelines.

Hive 1 is thriving, no sighting of the Queen today but lots of recent eggs! We have given up on separating the original super from the brood box as there are eggs and honey (never mind shed loads of brace comb) everywhere. Instead, we popped a Queen Excluder on top and a new super on top of that, so now they have lots of room. The pollen was very varied and some was amazingly coloured, I saw one bee with bright cerise pollen in it’s leg pouches.

On opening Hive 2 where we had previously seen what looked like worker laid eggs, the 3 occupied frames were heavily populated by drone brood. Drones are the male bees, with little known purpose except to fertilize queens, they are maintained by worker bees and so are usually very much in the minority.

However, a colony raises drones (from unfertilised eggs) if it has an unfertilsed Queen (Drone laying Queen) or is Queenless. In the latter case the restrictions on workers (unfertilised female bees) laying are removed and in a last attempt to pass some genes on, drones are raised so they can mate with a Queen from another colony. This is termed Hopelessly Queenless. We may have to abandon the idea of this second colony and try to look after the remaining bees with Hive 1 somehow………

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