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Queenless Split Mad & Hungry

This morning, I made my way over to the garden to see if any of the veggies were showing signs of stress due to the dry period that I’ve been in (Richmond, Va has received some rain, but I have literally been without any rain at all for several weeks – which is really tough on the plants when you have scorching days in the 90’s). Before I even got to within 30 feet of the splits, I had angry bees coming at me. This is a first for me. Every hive that I have, up until yesterday, would let me get within inches of the landing board and take pictures, without getting mad. I am fairly certain these two wenches would have stuck their little surprise into me had I not hit the road.

For most of the morning, I have been trying to figure out what to do next. I need to look at the Berkeley Hive, but I will have to get suited up to do so, primarily thanks to the queenless split off of the Westover Hive. Bees are still in the air, mainly buzzing around where their old landing board was, but also buzzing all over the Queenless split. The real concern (I can get suited up, that’s no big deal) is that these bees might start robbing the young Berkeley Hive when I do an inspection. For some time, I kept saying that I would do it tomorrow, but I finally threw in the towel and went to have a look.

Fully suited, I was able to look at both splits again, both on the landing board and inside their feeders (I definitely did not want to open either right now.) Bees were all over me, definitely upset, before I came within 15 feet or so. But, none put a little stinger in me, primarily because of the bee suit and long pants. Both hives were eating, but the queenless hive had eaten the entire gallon in less then a day. I’m not sure what to make of this, but part of it is probably due to the dry weather. This is probably another ‘do not split your hives when’ rule that I have broken, but I am fine with feeding them copious amounts of sugar for several months, if no rain comes. I might even take Doug’s suggestion of mixing in some mega-bee, although (per my response to his comment) I have never been able to successfully do that before.

In fact, due to the amount of feeding that I might be doing this Summer, I am seriously considering taking Tom Fifer’s strategy of mixing .5 parts sugar to 1 part water. I am going to have to mix a ton of it and, according to Tom, that mixture is closer to nectar’s ratio then 1:1. We’ll see. For now, I am sticking to 1:1 with a tad of Honey Bee Healthy.

The other item of note (maybe of concern?) is that there is still next to no activity on the landing board of the queen-right hive. The queenless hive is covered with bees, but there is not a single one on the queenless hive. Since I could see them eating the syrup, I knew they were in there, but otherwise the hive looks dead. It isn’t, of course, but this is a good tidbit to remember for later splits.

But, onto the task at hand. The Berkeley Hive had nearly 7 frames of bees. 2 of them were only being worked on, but the rest were fully drawn and being used for one thing or another. I only looked at 1 of the frames that was being worked, as the bees from the Westover Hive were still harassing me. I saw one run into the frame that I was looking (she was mainly trying to find a way into my veil, but wasn’t watching to the aft and banged right into some bees on the frame of the Berkeley Hive. Man did they get angry. Up until that moment, not a single bee from that hive had acted upset. When that Westover Bee banged into their hard work, about 10 came off and went for that bee. They never seemed to go for me, but they didn’t have any time for that country trash messing with their stores.

At any rate, it was a good inspection. I removed the feeder that had smelled a bit a few days ago for cleaning and placed a brand new feeder with new syrup on them. I’ve been having a problem finding the right spacers to put on the back of the top feeder to provide a bit of ventilation. Yesterday, I picked up some washers for a trap out that I am going to start in July (or whenever we finally get a good rain) and used two of them on each corner. Stacked two high, it provides ventilation, but bees cannot come and go (and rob.) I’m sure the daggone Small Hive Beetle will use it to their heart’s content, but this hive is mostly clean of them.

That last bit does remind me of note that I want to make about the Westover Hive and forgot to yesterday. I did not see one single Small Hive Beetle when I did that split (and I was looking for them – especially the larva.) Again, it is a mean hive, but maybe that’s what it takes to deal with the problems of the world… On the other hand, stings really do not bother me. But, harassing me while I am in the garden is another thing. They better settle down once they get a queen cell started or I will take other measures. I cannot wait for a queen to hatch to get into my garden. Period.

2 comments to Queenless Split Mad & Hungry

  • Doug Ladd

    Which hive sits in the orginal location? The split or the parent queenright hive?

    Which ever hive recieved the foragers during the split will be the active one. The other one that lost the foragers may not forage for about 2 weeks or more depending on the age of the bees, how many, and the age of the capped brood…remember it takes about 24 days or so from hatching out before a worker is ready to forage and this is only after the hive has enough to take care of the brood…

    My sugesstion to, is to think about re-queening those mean hives. I have two really mean ones right now i havnt gone into since May 15th… because they are so mean, but both are building like crazy so i may wait till next spring… but dont progate that mean gene youl pay for it in the long run. Remeber those queens you are making will breed with some of those mean hive’s drones… Who knows really. The ole mean bees make more honey and winter better is balony as well like most myths in beekeeping is based off shear speculation and no real evidence. Lookat the carnolians who overwinter very well and are one of the most gentle bees known!!!

  • The Queenless hive appears to have received the foragers. Neither hive is in the original location – both are about 3′ back from the original location.

    But, the Queenless hive also received the bottom board and bottom brood chamber from the original parent hive. Both of these were covered with bees during the split. It probably carried the most familiar scent as well.

    Are there queens available now?

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