Saturday, 19 May 2012

Crisis averted?

After all the anxiety of last weekend I was rather surprised at just how calm I felt today as I strolled down the garden to inspect the hive.  This was possibly because I was having a crisis on another front but more of that later........
They'd been building wax so well last week that I'd already decided that I would add more frames to the hive so that if there had been the vaguest chance of the Queen having got out to mate she would soon have more space to lay eggs...... so I took four down the garden with me.
Just as well that I did as soon as I opened the hive and saw all the syrup gone I knew they'd need them - look they are already walking over the fifth frame and starting to draw out the wax there...


But what I really wanted to see was proof that the Queen had got out and mated during the few warm days we'd had last week.  All the books I've read seemed to be in agreement that she really needed a warm sunny day, blue skies, minimum of 18'c, and not much wind.  Personally, I was hoping she wasn't such a fussy little minx and had done the deed round the back of the compost heap with the first nice drone she's met. (clearly I'll be giving my own son's very different guidance when the time comes) 
And then I saw them..... you've really got to look carefully...... peer really far into the cell...... can you see them too?

Tiny little eggs... they look like tiny little snips of thread right at the base of the cell.  I'm not going to worry that a few cells have more than one in, she's young and she'll make a few mistakes - hopefully the workers might move them so they each get a cell of their own.
As I kept on looking and watching what they were doing I could see they were busy feeding 3 day old grubs...


The grubs hatch at three days old and look like a lovely milky white "C" in the bottom of the cell.  The sight of so many lovely fat white healthy looking grubs made my heart soar.  The workers will feed and tend them for 5 days before packing the cell with "brood food" - a combination of "bee milk" the nursing bees secrete from glands in their heads (hence all the heads poked down into the cells and high protein pollen.  The ones on the left are probably younger than those on the left which are fatter and appear to be floating in the brood food - probably ready to be sealed in.  Because on day 8 (after laying) the grub is sealed into its' wax cell with its final packed lunch of pollen and bee milk and left for a further 13 days to moult and pupate into a new bee...

So it would be really encouraging to find some actual capped cells ....there were only a few but Ta-dah!! 

This is such a good sign -to see there flattish capped cells.....the chances are these are worker bees and therefore she is fully mated and able to keep this colony flourishing, if they were domed cells they would be drone and therefore she wouldn't yet be mated and a colony of boy bees wont last long in this world.

And the girl that's the star of all this excitement..would I get to see her? would she have changed since she strolled up the green cloth and into the hive just three weeks ago?
Oh yes.....isn't she lovely....

No wonder they all turn to face her as she walks past.  She is noticeably longer... not so much bigger, but longer than her workers, particularly her abdomen.  Isn't she lovely?

Happy happy bee keeper - even 'im indoors came and quickly peaked over my shoulder to see her....

So now its all about keeping her happy ..her workers will keep her fed and tended and she will lay eggs - up to 3,000 a day in the height of the season, for the rest of her life.
I added all four frames I brought down the garden, removed the syrup feeder, put the roof back on and walked back to the house with a stupidly big grin on my face.

Those more in the know than me have taken a good look at the picture of "my queen" above, laughed quietly and told me SHE is in fact a drone i.e. a HE.  All I can say is "oooops I'm a beginner" and look at the really good drag costume he is wearing - those 5 workers to his right are clearly convinced by his act and have turned to face him.
This Sunday's inspection means I will be looking a whole lot harder for the real queen

1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness Helen - how amazing - has your wonderful queen been offically named yet .... I very much look forward to a post about the naming process!!! Will keep my fingers crossed for much more warm and sunny weather, and of course many more baby bees!!


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