Friday, June 27, 2014

Schrodinger's Bees?

The Dregs, sitting and chilling on their front porch.

It's been five days, and we just couldn't wait. Bees were coming, bees were going, which was good, but not enough to satisfy our curiosity. We needed to know what was going on inside The Dregs. This is the one problem with bees and beehives -- you can't see inside them without lifting the lid. Like the famous cat of Schrodinger fame, they could be alive or dead, but without looking in the box, we would never really know.

Lots of capped brood and Queen cells at the bottom.
Once everyone was suited up, that was exactly what we did -- and we could not beelieve what we saw! We were hoping that by taking uncapped brood from other hives, the new hive would be able to create some Queen cells so they would have the required egg-layer to keep the hive alive. Alive? That would be an understatement! They did create a Queen cell... then another... then another. Actually, we counted 27 Queen cells on the middle four frames, and they have been working on every frame in the hive. They also went through all their juice; it was bone dry. The Queen cells are distinctive because of their long shape and bigger size. Usually the brood cells are capped flush with the frame. Only one Queen will go on to rule the hive. When she comes out of her cell, she will chew through the other Queen cells and kill the growing Queens inside. The Queen in this hive will spend a lot of time chewing those other cells!

Textbook Queen cell on the bottom right end... the really long one!
So, now comes the new dilemma. Do we try to split it again, taking the three frames with Queen cells and putting them into a hive each, robbing some brood and eggs from the other hives, or do we not get greedy in the creation of new hives? We were more than content to end the year with 5, especially considering that we had only planned on 3 when we started out. We already are up one -- a bonus hive. Do we push our luck and see if we can take this year to establish the hives, then let them do their honey thing in full force next year? Looking out the window and seeing the rain, I can't imagine the bees will want to be doing much of anything in this cold, so perhaps letting them make a new hive or two might not be a bad idea after all.
More hired help. They will eventually get paid... in honey.
More Queen cells, these all over the frame. The bees will pick any cell that has an egg that is the right age when they don't have a Queen. 

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