Sunday, June 15, 2014

More NooBees Are Here

Yes, they arrived last week… the Moody Blues, Pistachios, and the White Outs. These are our first nuc hives – they are made of cells started in other hives, where the Queen is established. The frames are transferred into the new hive, complete with queen, to set up a new colony. This is supposed to be a faster way to establish a colony, so it will be interesting to see how they do in comparison to the other two already here. These bees have many generations of being bred locally and are supposed to be well adapted to our environment.

The bees in the new hives seem… different. We wouldn’t say they are more aggressive, but perhaps a bit easier to excite. They certainly let you know that they don’t really appreciate you peeking into their hives. They were set up with protein pads and juice, and we’ll see how they do. As happened with the first two hives, there is one that seems stronger (The White Outs) and one that seems to be lagging (Pistachios), but as we’ve learned from Mellow Yellow and Team Tangerine, they tend to do things their own way in each hive, at least a little bit, so we count no one out yet, even if they seem a bit slower coming out of the gates.

When we checked on Team Tangerine, we found an interesting (and perhaps concerning and perplexing at the time) discovery. There were some ‘new’ cells at the bottom of a middle frame, longer and much bigger than the other larvae cells. There were three of them, which removed any doubt about what they were – new Queen cells. Team Tangerine wanted, or needed, a new Queen, so they set to work and created one. By the time we found them, all three were opened. When the hive does this, it’s because there is a problem with the Queen – she is too old, she is sick, she isn’t able to lay eggs… so the hive, knowing that the Queen is vital to survival, takes matters into their own hands. The new Queen, when she hatches, will eat her way out of the cell. She then goes to the other two Queen cells, rips them open and kills the Queens in them. She then has to go on a ‘mating flight’ outside the hive… she finds drones from another hive to mate with. This is the only time she will leave the hive. Once she returns, she will spend the rest of her life laying eggs.

While all this has been happening, we noticed that there was no egg production in the hive (since there wasn’t a laying Queen for about two weeks). Instead, because bees are nothing if not busy, they have put all their energy into creating honey. Though they were lagging behind The Mellow Yellows in bee production, they are leaving MY in the dust when it comes to filling their comb with sweet wonderful honey. Some of the frames, when lifted, are nearing 20 pounds in weight with bees and honey.

The discovery of the Queen cells was disconcerting because it can be an indicator that the hive is about to swarm, leaving here and finding new digs to call home. All evidence though indicates that this was because they needed a new Queen, and it was done with typical bee-ish textbook proficiency.

As for the Mellow Yellows, they grew into a third box. Yes, we have our first honey super, three boxes high, with the top box waiting to be filled with nothing but honey, just in time for peak honey production season. 

Here is the Queen cell. You can see how she chewed a flap open so she could get out. She then ripped open the other two so she could kill the Queens developing in them

LOTS of bees now in this hive!

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