Hive Combination & a New Queen

Just wanted to give a quick update of our weekend inspection.  A few weeks ago I posted about a queenless hive and a round queen cell.  Well, we have a new queen!  We didn’t see her, but we did find new eggs and very young brood, positive signs that there is a queen. 🙂 We’ll try to find her and mark her during our next inspection.

Then we had a hive that was not doing so great these past weeks.  It happens.  The population was dwindling and the queen was not laying,  so we had to make a decision.  We killed the old queen and combined the weak hive with one of our strong hives.  We decided not to requeen because the population was small and could not support a new queen at this time.  Soon we’ll split the strong hive, thus creating a new hive and give the bees a chance to produce a new queen.

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Well fed bees

Two weeks ago we added a second floor to our strong hives and they are doing very well. Here is a frame we pulled from the top chamber.  You can tell right away that these are well fed bees.  The brood (baby bees) are clustered together and capped in the center. Very nice laying pattern, meaning the queen is good.  Lots of capped and uncapped honey surrounding the brood, meaning they have plenty of food for the adults and to feed the larvae.

well-fed-bees

Round queen cell

In the 2 years we have been keeping bees, I have never seen a round queen cell.  Most queen cells are elongated, but this one is a round ball.  A week ago this hive was doing fine and had a queen, then while inspecting them we noticed they were a little aggressive.  My poor husband got stung 4 times and finally put on his gloves. We looked and did not see any new eggs and searched for the queen, but did not find her.  There were 3 other queen cells in the hive too.  Maybe the queen died from natural causes? Maybe she was rejected from the hive for some reason?  Who knows for sure.  The queen cells look like emergency cells, so we left them as is and will check this hive in 2 weeks.

A round queen cell.

A round queen cell.

Close up of round queen cell.

Close up of round queen cell.

Time for a second floor

We check our bees once a week and when we arrived we found one of our hives bearded up.

Bearded hive

Bearded hive

We initially thought the bees were just hot because we have been having record heat for late February.  It was 87°F (31°C)!  But after we opened up the hive to really see what was going on they were full and needed a second floor.  The bee population within a week literally exploded in this strong hive.

Full hive

Full hive

We will likely split this hive very soon to prevent the queen from swarming.

Yanni with his hive.

Yanni giving the all good thumbs up.

So before we said goodbye we added a second deep with both built and unbuilt frames to give our bees some more room.

Spanish Needle

Spanish Needle (Bidens alba) is a wildflower that blooms year round in South Florida. It is a source of both pollen and nectar for bees.  Many people consider it a weed because it can spread very quickly and has seeds that are hard to remove from clothing and pet’s fur.  I used to consider it a weed too until I started beekeeping and realized it is a great wildflower for them.

Bee on Spanish Needle flower

Bee on Spanish Needle flower

2 bees on Spanish Needle flowers

2 bees on Spanish Needle flowers (The second one is close to the bottom of the photo.)

Spanish Needle growing in my backyard

Spanish Needle growing in my backyard

There is an area in my backyard full of it, but I resist cutting it because I see my bees and many other native foragers enjoying the pollen and nectar this plant provides.

Yummy Nectar

Our front yard has a collection of succulents and cacti.  Many of these flower throughout the year providing a nice source of nectar for our bees.

We have a large Kalanchoe marnieriana plant that produces pink-orange flowers full of nectar.

Kalanchoe-marnieriana

Kalanchoe-flower-nectar

We also have several aloe vera plants that bloom. These have longer pink flowers which also provide a source of nectar.  Here are two bees foraging.

Foraging-on-aloe

Nothing beats the joy of seeing your bees finding food right from your own yard.