Thursday, May 9, 2013

My First Marked Queen...

The weather has been getting warmer finally, and while at first I had noticed my bees taking the opportunity to get out and stretch their wings, the last week or so, there seemed to be fewer and fewer bees leaving the hive.  I had been checking in with and feeding my bees on Saturdays for quite awhile, and there seemed to be plenty of bees in the hive when I opened it.  So I started to get nervous when as the weather got warmer, I wasn't seeing more and more bees leaving the hive.  The field bees that were coming and going were bringing in pollen, a good sign, but the traffic still seemed light.    

Last weekend we had beautiful weather, a great time to find out what's really going on in there. I'll be honest, I was nervous to do a full inspection of my hive, afraid to confirm I might be losing it.  So, I called on my support system, fellow HCBA members, Mike Feeney to help with the inspection and Sean Martin (also known as my husband) to take photos and have his shoulder ready just in case I needed to cry on it.  

Mike's first suggestion for me was to reverse the position of my inner cover.  I usually keep the notch on the inner cover facing the back of the hive so I have a rear entrance.  Well when all the bees are using the back door, it's much harder to tell how many are coming and going.  With both entrances facing the front of the hive, it's much easier for me to see who is coming and going without having to go into the beeyard.  I agreed to changing the position of my inner cover, and we went out to open my hive. 
At first glance, things did not look good.  As I feared, the number of bees in the hive appeared to be much fewer than the week before when I last fed them.  Determined to find out what was going on, we pulled out each frame and meticulously looked them over.  There were a lot of empty cells (too many if you ask me) but there were also plenty of pollen and syrup stores, one whole frame up top was almost completely full of syrup.  Unfortunately, there were no signs of brood... Until one of the last frames out of the top box!  Mike spotted some eggs in the lower cells and my spirits were lifted!  What a relief to see those eggs!  When we opened the bottom brood chamber, we found all the signs pointing toward "Queen Right"!  More eggs, and larvae, and then, her majesty herself!  Thank goodness.  Mike is like a beekeeping boy scout and is always prepared, so when we saw the queen, he was already to trap and mark her.  

I have never marked a queen in the past.  My beekeeping philosophy is that if I can see all the queen right signs, I don't look too hard for her because I fear I may do something while searching to compromise her well being.  But... there she was!  And we were prepared!  How often does that happen?  

 Ladies and gentlemen... Queen Daryl Palumbo

So we put everything back together, keeping all the brood in the center, and rearranging some frames so that some of the empty celled frames were closest to where she was laying.   

Switching the inner cover really seemed to help too.  Now I can see all the bees coming and going, and it already looks like more traffic than I originally thought.  

Plus, I know I'm queen right, so I can relax... until next week! 

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