A Search for the Queen

We met Jim at Amazing Heart Farm on Sunday,  with the intent to split Elizabeth’s hive. Splitting can help to get more hives, and thusly increase production, to requeen, or to prevent swarms.

Jim opens the hive after calming them with smoke

Jim opens the hive after calming them with smoke

We first had to go through the hive to see if we could find the queen and if, within the brood, we could spot any queen cells. If we did, we could split the hive. The first couple boxes of frames were mostly just laden with honey.. we may be able to extract once more this season while allowing the bees to have enough honey to live on through the winter.

Pollen is stored in the honeycomb

Pollen is stored in the honeycomb

As we made our way down the hive, we saw some swarm cells as well as a few queen cups. In order to separate the brooding bees from the drones building up comb and harvestable honey, a screen is placed down to keep the queen in the bottom of the hive.

The queen divider screen

The queen divider screen

When conditions are good for swarming, the queen bee will lay eggs in the queen cups, from which virgin queens will hatch. The new queen bees will gain their nutrition from royal jelly, and this difference in diet will ultimately make the bee a sexually mature female, unlike the worker bees.

Swarm cells

Swarm cells

We did not, however, successfully find the queen in the first hive. However in the second hive, and more recent one to Elizebeth’s farm, we did find the queen.

The queen! Can you spot her?

The queen! Can you spot her?

-Jasmine

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