Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen


Finally had the opportunity to check the hive thoroughly today and found what I was afraid of. Hive A is thriving and has many capped cells meaning the queen is laying well and in a couple of weeks there should be thousands of bee babies. Yeah. Hive B on the other hand has no capped cells,the bees seem listless and are only storing nectar and pollen in the cells. This means there is no queen in Hive B to lay and nobody in the hive knows what they should be doing. What to do?
I have two options: A. get a new queen or B. combine the hives. Getting a new queen would be ideal but will cost about $25 and with the package bee's lifespans getting toward the end there may not be enough time to raise a brood before the adults die off. Combining the hives will cost 3 sheets of newspaper and maybe a couple thousand bees.
I opted for option B. and here is how I did it. Since two different hives cannot be merely dumped together, a way is needed to acclimate the bees and allow the pheromones present in each hive to equalize. This is accomplished by separating the hives with 3 layers of newspaper that has been perforated in several places with a pin or needle.
Step by step: I removed the lid from Hive A(the hive with the queen) and placed three sheet of newspaper over the top to act as the lid. I randomly perforated the paper and then placed the body of Hive B(no queen) atop of the paper on top of Hive A. Placing a lid on top of it all means that there is no exit from the top of the hive. Theoretically it should take the bees about 3 to 4 days to eat through the paper and get to one another. By that time the pheromones in both colonies should be equalized and the queenless bees will be the happy subjects of Hive A.
The loss of a couple of thousand bees, what's up with that? Well, since I performed the operation in the afternoon many bees are out in the field and when they come home, it won't be there. Here's what I did to minimize the loss.
I placed a new hive body on top of the old Hive B base and put 4 empty frames in it. I want to see if I can get returning bees to take up residence and transfer them to the new combined hive tomorrow. We'll see.
In honour of this occasion I will post the following song.


  1. How did the acclimation work out? Did they, in the end, all work together?

  2. Also, this is Ciara! And here is a link to an artsy, French-y interpretation of a bee hive surrounded by a sculpture called the dance of the bees: