As I have discussed in my post of April 22nd I installed five packages of bees into hives on April 15th. See the April 22nd post for progress of the new hives up until that point. I looked at them this past Saturday, April 30th, and had also made observations the previous weekend, on April 23rd, which I had not written about. You also may wish to see my post of April 13th – “What to look for in your new hive”.
I will give general observations about their progress, comments are representative for most of the hives, except one, and I will comment on that hive in detail at the end of the post. A week after the installations I was seeing multiple frames with drawn comb, lots of nectar in the new cells, as well as eggs and larvae. Fresh pollen was also present in the cells. On April 29nd, two weeks after the packages were installed, there was capped brood in four of the hives, and these hives are all approaching the “seven frames drawn” point at which I add another box of frames containing foundation. I have prepared the frames, and likely on Sunday, May 8th, I will add another box to these four hives. When to add the box is not extremely critical, I just do not wish to see the first box to get completely full of bees, and brood, without adding the second box. So Sunday will be fine. It would require a great number of new bees to emerge from brood for this to occur, and that will not happen for some time.
I am also about to cease feeding them, at least for the time being. The four have at a minimum of two frames full of stored nectar, or sugar syrup, and I do not wish to see them place food in all the new comb, I wish to encourage them to rear brood in the new cells. My goal for the hives is to get them full of bees, by the end of June, and to do this means lots of new bees, and that requires brood rearing, as much as possible. Though I will continue to monitor their food, and feed more if needed later.
I am quite happy with the progress of these new hives.
Now to the problem hive. One of these hives appears to have lost it’s queen. When I initially looked in this hive on April 19th (package installed on April 15th), she was out of the queen cage. I did not look further at the frames at that time. On April 22nd, I saw eggs on two frames, but did not see the queen. I was looking for her, because I wanted to mark her. However, I was not too concerned, I thought it possible that I had just missed her. Though I did not see fresh eggs, so I made note of that in my hive log. I wrote “lost queen?”, and moved on. I went back three days later, the colony was making multiple queen cells, still no sign of the queen or eggs. I declared the hive queen-less, and destroyed the queen cells. I did this for two reason, the first was that I was unsure of the age of the larvae from which the colony was attempting to raise a new queen from, no way to know this. If the larvae is too old, the queen that is produced will be of poor quality. The second reason was that aid was on the way. I had previously ordered queens, and the producer had called me to say that he was about to ship them. I preferred to re-queen the hive with a quality mated queen. To allow them to rear a queen from these queen cells which looked to be several days old, and for her to start laying eggs, would have taken over three more weeks, too long. I would not allow the new hive to go that long without a laying queen. I am lucky, I had queens ordered. If I had not had the queens on the way, I would have been on the phone to purchase a queen, one that I could get in hand as soon as possible. I installed a new queen this past Sunday. Today the bees have eaten the candy plug almost all the way, she should be out by tomorrow.
I am obviously not making updates on these new hives every few days. I will try for once a week.