|In need of royalty
||[May. 5th, 2011|12:20 pm]
Today is sunny and calm, so we opened the hive for the first time and pulled the frames.
Which means lifting bee-covered frames out of the hive box and getting up close and personal with the bees. To say that I was a bit nervous about it is severe understatement. But it turns out that the actual handling of the frames went off without incident. You can watch me do this on Ferrett's journal. You can also be amused by Ferrett, standing back with the camera, admonishing me to "just go ahead and take out the next one," nevermind the bees where I want to lift it. And then admire that, showing great self-restraint, I didn't sock him with the hive tool. The good news is that it all went very smoothly.
The bad news is that we may have a queen problem. When we bought our bees, the shop owner offered to substitute out a superior, Cordovan, queen for the one with which the bees would arrive. Only when we picked up our bees, there didn't appear to be a queen cage at all. The shop keeper said that there might be a queen cage in amongst all those roiling bees, but he wasn't looking for it. He provided us with a new queen and cage and said that if we found the old one, we should just do away with it.
Well, when Ferrett dumped the bees, he reported not seeing a queen cage. And when we checked the hive Tuesday, the Cordovan queen had made her escape. But today, when I moved one of the frames, a queen cage fell into the bottom of the hive, and sure enough, a live queen was still in that cage. She was alone in the cage (no attendants), but surrounded by other bees. We couldn't tell what they were trying to do: attend or attack?
We went through the rest of the frames and never found our other queen, so I suspect they never accepted her and killed her once she got out. So we decided to dump the other queen out of her cage and figured that either she was the accepted queen and would begin to function in the hive or the other queen actually was there and the bees would kill this one. Only Ferrett inadvertently dumped her into the bottom of the cage, which is a no-no because she's not supposed to be able to get back up from there. Only I looked down and saw her reach up and start climbing onto a frame, and then couldn't see her anymore but then thought I saw her walking toward the cluster of bees. So I think she's our queen and I think she's okay.
But I'm really not sure. There was certainly no brood and only a hint of any drawn comb, but it's early in the season. We have to give them a few more days and then we'll get back in there again.
The other interesting thing was that our trash collector came along while we were veiled and asked us what we were doing, so we took him to the back yard and introduced him to the bees - and explained to him that the ground nest he'd stepped on as a kid was not honeybees. He was aware of the bee shortage problems and after his initial fears were allayed said "This will be great for the flowers around here. Maybe everyone should be doing it." So I feel like we did a little bit of community service and public relations there.