Unlucky queen

The weather was just gorgeous this weekend and really, all week. I did a thorough inspection of both hives on Saturday. I was able to get down to the bottom deep in Demeter and after seeing a few empty frames, see several frames loaded with eggs, open brood and capped brood. I did not spot the queen and I’m wondering if she’s still the 2011 Queen Penelope or a new one? Demeter’s set-up consisted of 2 deeps and 2 mediums. The very bottom deep had brood, the top deep was honey, pollen and empty frames. The two mediums were quite loaded with uncapped honey, only one frame was capped. I had hoped to harvest a few frames to appease my neighbors, but no luck. I did move the 2 supers above an empty hive body, with solid inner covers over the top and bottom to make it even more of a separate space and convince them to rob out those frames. I would like them to move that honey down into the deeps and get the remainder capped so I can harvest it.

Top of Demeter. Lots ‘o bees.
The bottom deeps have some empty frames. By separating the honey supers (the smaller purple hive bodies) from the rest of the hive, I hope to convince the bees to rob out the honey supers and move it down into the brood nest. So the teal colored body is the empty one; I put both supers over that (including the one that’s to the side in the picture). On either side of the supers I have a solid inner cover to encourage that “separate” feeling. I may check them in the next couple of days to see if it’s working. I hope to be able to pull some capped honey soon!

Melissa is looking good, they still have some unworked frames that I really want them to work on but with the season slowly winding down, I don’t think that’s going to happen! I have 2 frames that are mostly drawn out but a bit moldy, I may give it to them to clean up and fill. I’m home one day this week for chick delivery so I may do it then.

I have the freeman beetle trap under Demeter and after leaving the tray out all summer to allow ventilation, I decided to put it back in for some beetle control. When I dry-fitted the tray, some bees came out from underneath and I brushed off what I thought was most of them. If you’ve ever worked with screened bottom boards, you know that bees are often flying around under the hive. I put in the tray with oil. A few days later I checked it and found a good number of dead bees, lets say…60 or so? I was a little irritated but I knew Demeter could spare the bees. I was assuming the bees were from Demeter.

Fast-forward to Saturday and the thorough hive inspections. After the inspections (spotting Queen Vivienne in Melissa and eggs in Demeter) I pulled out the oil tray and was looking at the variety of debris when all of sudden, I saw something very odd. In addition to the bees that were still there, I saw a very large bee. I looked at it and thought “It can’t be, can it?” Can you see where this is going? Yes, it was a queen. Even worse, I spotted a tiny, tiny yellow spot of paint. So this was someone’s 2012 queen. But whose? I only had two queens with yellow on them, Queen Vivienne who is happily installed in Melissa and the queen that was in the nuc, but that hive…died…out [light bulb goes on over my head]. Oh no…the queen that was in the nuc. I could not even think how she ended up in the oil tray, but after a few minutes of racking my brain I think I figured it out: when the nuc was besieged by the hornets, the bees must have absconded. The queen, who was a laying queen, must have headed back to the hives she had oriented to on her mating flights. She would not have been allowed to enter either hive as they are each queenright and her entourage would not have abandoned her. So they must have taken refuge under the purple hive (it does have more space under it than Melissa). They were so small in number that they would never have survived without help.

And then I came along with the tray for the trap; filled it with oil and slid it under Demeter not knowing who was under there. And that was the end of the nuc.


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