Posts Tagged ‘making a divide’

Here Les showed us  how the bee colony develops in the spring as pollen and nectar begins to appear.

Learning how the hive develops

A healthy queen can lay up to 2000 eggs a day and if conditions are right, the beehive will begin to get full!   Soon the bees will realize that it’s getting too crowded and a large group of workers will swarm…. take the queen and fly off  to look for a new home.  This can be in the form of a hollow tree , log or an attic space or inside the walls of a house (not good)   The swarm will temporarily nest in branches , bushes, or under the eaves of a house while workers scout for suitable permanent sites. A queen will take about a third of the bees with her. You will lose your queen ( also not good)  So what should the beekeeper do?  Answer:  Split the hive before this happens. Let’s check out the hive and see how it’s doing.

Checking the hive

The first signs of a potential swarm is the formation of lots of drone cells.  The only function of drones is to mate with a virgin queen, so having  a large number of them indicates that the workers are planning to rear some new queens to replace the one that might be leaving the crowded hive.  You can identify drone comb by the fact that they bulge out more on the top than worker cells.

Can you see all the drone cells?

Mmmm…lots of drone cells. The next thing to do is to see if there are any queen cell cups around.  These are easily recognizable due to their large size….they look like a large peanut.  Look in the cell to see if there is an egg or larva in it. It takes 16 days for a queen to develop from egg to adult. Here is a part of the hive with a queen cup on it.

Queen cup on the comb

Making a divide

We ended up finding a number of queen cups in various stages of development, so…it looked like the bees were getting ready to swarm.  We took out a number of comb containing the queen cells and drone cells and put it in an empty hive along with a number of workers. A new queen will hatch out soon    ( the first queen to emerge will immediately go around and kill off the other developing queens… there’s only room for one queen , honey! ) and the colony will have room to grow without swarming.  Now you have two hives and will soon have double the number of bees.

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