Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Checking on my Queen

At the end of last week I finally had a chance to go back to my hive. I wanted to go back and remove the queen cage that I had bound to a frame. I removed my inner cover and noticed the rubber band was missing that I had used to secure the queen cage with ... I was a little scared that it broke and the cage had dropped. I did notice, before I began removing frames, some of the worker bees were sticking there tail ends in the air and beating there wings. They were fanning out pheromones signaling  their sisters to come to them.

A Lady Fanning Her Pheromones 

I slowly began removing frames and was checking thoroughly for my queen. With the first frame removed I was able to see the queen cage and it was empty (thank goodness). I knew the queen had been released but was she laying? As I started turning over the frame in my hand I noticed a queen cell. This was just my luck to  install a new hive and have the queen already replaced. I didn't know how this had already happened and what it meant for my colony. Set the frame down and gave my mentor a quick call (would highly recommend attending a bee meeting and make some friends).  As to what was going on: 

When a colony is first installed into the hive, the queen is still in her cage and will not be laying for a couple of days. During this time that she is caged, the colony has interpreted her as being weak, therefore the begin to develop queen cells. When she is finally released and begins to lay she will go through and kill off the queen cells that were produced. I was told not to worry, scrap off the queen cells and go through my frames and check for eggs and larva. I was also told that as a newbie I was to remove the queen cell and taste the royal jelly that it held..."It is a delicacy and is the initiation into beekeeping". Lets just say I'm a beekeeper.

He also mentioned that if the queen hadn't been released and I was still seeing queen cells, the package that I had received had a queen already in it. In this case I had many different options.

I removed the queen cell from the frame and began looking for eggs. While looking over the frame I noticed that the bees were already storing food and out of the glimpse of my eye, I saw her!

My Queen Bee
I was really excited to be able to spot my queen and see that she was doing great. I checked some other frames and noticed patches of laid eggs and larva. I concluded that the bees must have chewed through the rubber band and everything was okay. 

My hive was looking great, the colony strong and I was happy.

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