I decided it was time to give the bees a sugar hit in case their stores were low. I put a block of fondant icing on. Initially I could not see any bees from the hole on the crown board but I peeked after the fondant has been on for about 30secs. I could see at least one bee!!
Now to leave them for a couple of months.
1kg of granulated sugar to 630ml hot water and leave to dissolve.
We did a brief check today – the queen was still in her cage. They had started to eat away at the end but ;limited progress. We decided to poke a hole in the candy at the end so the queen can get out as well as the bees eat some of the candy.
Once she is out we will need to start feeding the colony as the queen needs lots of food.
A look next weekend to see if we are through the worst!?
Roy came round tonight with a queen in a cage and we briefly inserted into the colony in between 2 middle frames. Roy also added 3 frames that had some eggs as well as some brood and stores. We took the 3 worst frames out to dispose of.
He said to leave her 3-4 days and see if the bees have helped her to escape the cage. If they have then leave her and hopefully the bees will accept her.
You can then leave the colony for a week and then check to see the state of the frames and brood and hopefully there will be no more drone brood and then the colony can recover.
If this doesn’t work then there is very little to do – they have some eggs that they can covert into a queen cell and this gives the colony some hope.
The sad thing is that we had to dispose of our 3 frames that we took out. Adrian burnt them in the garden waste incinerator.
Tonight Roy came round and agreed to try and help with the hive.
Firstly we looked for the queen so we could remove her as the eggs and pattern was indicative with a drone laying queen. No such luck – no queen to be found.
The next try was to shake the bees out of the hive so the idea that the queen (or drone laying worker) can be removed from the colony. We threw them out by the chicken cage and then put the hive back. We removed 2 of frames that were heavily full of drone brood and little stores and added some empty new frames.
Roy agreed to try and get me a queen and to then try adding the queen to the hive and see if the bees will accept her.
They were not a very happy set of bees – could be an indicator of no queen but also it was after 7pm at night by the end!!
Today we did our first inspection since my inspection with Peter – we left is 3 weeks to allow the new queen to hatch, mate and start laying eggs.
Well to our surprise we have a hive full of only drone brood – really not good and not what was expected.
There are few queen cells – one capped and some with larvae.
Anyway, we closed up the hive and sought advice from peter as well as Roy Cross (another local beekepper). Both confirmed that this was not good – the question was whether it was a drone laying queen or a worker that is laying. What is also confusing is that it takes 24 days for a drone eggs to develop from an egg to being ready to come out. Does raise a question if the previous queen was not laying well rather than the new queen.
Peter joined me today after our concerns from last week. He confirmed what we thought – we have no queen. He was unsure why we have last the new queen and why there was only queen cell. One of the indicators of being queenless is the amount of nectar being stored. His advice was to leave the colony for 3 weeks and then do an inspection- hopefully the queen will hatch and then mate with drones and start laying. If there is still no sign the we need either a frame of eggs or a frame with a queen cell.
He commented how they were a calm colony of bees especially given they have no active queen.
He also said we could take the honey off soon as they are unlikely to add much to the super given time of the season and the lower number of bees.
I aldo asked some advice about moving the dark brood frames – we moved 2 to the edge and hopefully on the next inspection there will be no brood and then I can put 2 new ones in.