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Monster Drones & Preparing for a Rainy Day

If I had a dime for each time I went into a hive and found what I expected to find, I would not have a single dime. As my Pop likes to say, if you do the same thing again and again, expecting different results, it is a definition of insanity. Per my post this past weekend, today was the day to go in and find the capped queen cell and create my first ‘split’. As I should have expected, that did not happen.

Hive 1 – Geronimo Hive
Queen: No sign of the little wench
Brood: 6 to 7 frames of brood, although a lot has hatched out
Eggs or Larvae: Lots of Larvae
Population: Monster drones!
Misc: Found 3 Queen cups. Changed entrance reducer to the larger entrance.

There is no activity in the new honey super, but I am not too surprised. It did get a bit chilly the last few days, so the bees are probably not getting too crazy yet. The top deep continues to fill up with honey and nectar (curing).There really were not a ton of bees on these frames, but it could be that most were out and about today.

Now, the business end of this thing was in the bottom deep, or so I figured.The first thing that I noticed were some monstrous drones! I have seen drones before (both earlier this month and last year), but these things looked HUGE. I actually thought one was a bumble bee for a moment. It was probably my state of mind, but I swear these things were bigger then I had seen before. I should have grabbed one to practice for grabbing the queen, but my mind was on ‘split making’.

After checking the first couple of frames, I came to the one with the queen cell that I found last weekend. The way I figured it, this thing would be capped by now (and emerging within the week.) But, nothing. The cell (really a cup, see later) was in the exact same state that it was before. This time, I had some sunlight and was able to look into it. Nada. It was bone dry. One of my warriors sort of mocked me by crawling by and looking into it as well, as if to say ‘what are you looking at? nothing in there, bub.’

I had been doing a lot of reading on the internet and had come across the term ‘Queen Cup’, referring to partial cups that the bees create to ‘prepare for a rainy day’. By that, I mean, ‘ready to make a queen at a moment’s notice if that moron that keeps opening our box every few days accidentally kills our current Lady!’ As I went through the hive, I actually found 2 more of these things. Empty little coffee mugs, hanging from the bottom of the comb, aimed straight down. I am now coming to believe that there was no cause for alarm. I lost my original queen last Fall, or sometime after July when I last saw the green-spotted Lady (I do wonder where she is today – in another beekeeper’s hive (caught the swarm that I cast) or in some tree out there…)

At any rate, I think the Geromino Hive is doing fine. They never went to the top deep, but there are tons of bees and lots more on the way. When I check in a couple of weeks (right before I get my 2 new Nuc’s from Tom Fifer!), I expect them to be up in the honey super (I might peak in, without breaking frames, between now and then to be sure.)

Hive 2 – Albo Hive
Queen: No sign. She is like a Ninja Queen. Hiding everywhere.
Brood: 6 frames of brood, although a lot has hatched out
Eggs or Larvae: Lots of Larvae
Population: Several drones
Misc: Found 2 Supercedure cells.

It’s been 11 days since I last checked this hive and I just wanted to see how they were doing. I did find two Supercedure Cells (or cups), but neither had been drawn out. I could only see into one of them and it was empty. As I said last Fall, I wanted them to overthrow this queen, so this is all good by me. No queen cups on the bottom of any of these frames, but the bees appear to be thriving.

I did swap out their bottom board for one of the nicer screened bottom boards. I have painted this one and it has a removable plastic tray that will let me do some mite counts this year.

The other irritating thing about this hive is that they had once again built up a ton of burr comb between the top and bottom deeps. I actually saved the stuff this time. Maybe I’ll make a candle or some chap stick. I put the honey super on this one and let her be.

One final note regards the honey super and Brushy Mountain. I purchased a ‘spacer’ from Dadant last year, under the assumption that I would go with 9 frames in my honey supers. Fortunately, my bees were never strong enough to draw out these supers. It turns out that you can end up with a real disaster using these spacers on foundation (something that Brushy Mountain makes clear in their catalog and Dadant fails to mention.)

It is not my intent to do another major investigation (breaking apart all frames in the hive) for at least another 2 to 4 weeks on either of these hives. I think I have bothered them enough for now. Plus, I have two new hives coming (and a third that Pop is going to start up) at the end of April, so my hands will be full at that point.

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