April to May – finding the new queens

After an exciting introduction to my first ‘stand-alone’ beekeeping year I was keen to see if my new colonies would be successful.

Both had new queens but neither had emerged (hatched) at the time of the last hive inspection. Now is the time to leave bees to their own devices, they have managed for millions of years without my assitance, I am sure they could manage a few weeks longer.

It’s quite hard to resist the urge to stick your head into their little world to see what is going on but it would be worse to damage or spook the new queen. Once she has emerged she feeds but is infertile. The drones drive her put of the hive and she makes a number of mating flights, mating with several drones (who then die!) before returning to the hive with enough sperm to last her a lifetime of egg laying (1500 – 2000 eggs per day at peak season).

When the dates and weather looked about right I approached the hives to check and see if I had a queen in each, if she was fertile and if she had started laying. The first hive was a success with comb full of eggs, the second hive was pretty much the same – fantastic they had both survived this little part of their life cycle and were fast building up strong colonies!

The queens were found and trapped in a ‘ring of thornes’ whilst I placed a white mark on  their backs – this will make it easier to find them in the future!


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