Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today's Adventure

. . . installing a new queen into our hive . . .

Yes, our beehive ended up queenless.

The hive had been doing very well and was increasing rapidly in size and was storing away lots of pollen and honey. Things were looking great until about a month ago . . . .

Then we began noticing swarm cells (which is an indicator that the hive might swar
m; meaning that a bunch of the bees, including the queen, would up and fly the coop - or hive, I should say. :) We took measures to hopefully prevent them from swarming (which we had been trying to do all along with our limited knowledge and experience.)

But . . . it looks like it didn't work as a few weeks later, there were no eggs and only some brood in the hive. Still lots of bees, but no sign of a queen anywhere. It could be that she had simply cu
t back on her laying due to the dearth and the high heat, but it could also be that the hive had swarmed. If they had swarmed, then possibly the remaining bees had raised a new queen and if so, she would begin laying in a few weeks if all went well.

Yesterday, though, we did a hive inspection and found no eggs, no larvae, no capped brood - no sign of a queen anywhere. Not good.

Dad placed an order for a queen after we got back inside from doing the hive inspection, and she came in this afternoon - a queen and her five attendants all together in a little cage . . . .

According to what we have read, installing a queen into a hive that is likely queenless can be a bit tricky as the bees will need to accept her and there are many factors that can prevent them from doing so. One, is having attendants (which are worker bees) in the cage with the queen as they may see those bees as intruders. So after doing a bit of reading online, Dad and I went into our bathroom, turned on the light, shut the door and began the work of releasing one worker bee at a time while attempting to leave the queen in the cage. That was a little interesting! Sadly, once the worker bees were out they had to meet their demise with the fly swatter.

The queen made it through the procedure safely, and we headed out to the hive to put her in. All went well there and after putting her in, I didn't see any signs of aggression by the bees towards her. Here's hoping that they will accept her and that the hive will begin functioning as it should! Time will tell . . . about 5 days to a week in fact. We'll be opening it back up then to see if she was released and to see if we see any eggs . . . hopefully we will!


  1. I hope your other bees accept the new queen! It sounds like you're learning so much about bees. If I ever get to have some I'll have to ask you what books to read and all that. :)

  2. That sounds pretty complicated, Sarah. I do hope the queen settles well and is accepted by the other bees.

  3. I hope this goes well too. I never knew that about queen bees. I would love to have a hive but this is one of my allergic things. I look forward to the updates.

  4. What a fascinating account, Sarah! And what a neat opportunity to learn even more about beekeeping, even as you're meeting the misfortune of losing the queen.

    I'm wondering...why did the new queen come with her own attendants? It seems pointless to ship those together, if the workers will simply have to be eliminated

    ~ Betsy

  5. I hope the new queen settles nicely. I never knew that the bees would swarm after establishing like that.So sorry to hear that part of your brood left.
    Here is a neat book about beekeeping though I know you have a great deal of info already. :)

  6. I hope so, too, Joy! I sure am curious what is going on in the hive right now . . . and I am looking forward to when we can take a look next week. We are indeed learning a lot about bees this year! This hive hasn't 'followed' the books at all so it has been an interesting learning curve for us. If you do ever decide to get bees, I'll be happy to share book titles with you and whatever knowledge we may have gleaned by then as well!

  7. It is turning out to be a bit more complicated than what I had anticipated, Elizabeth, but it's been quite interesting, too. And we're enjoying it. :) Hopefully the queen has been accepted now . . . we should know next week!

  8. Thank you, Suze! Keeping bees is a lot of fun, but not so much if you were allergic to them. I am sorry to hear that you are! I look forward to sharing updates on the bees . . . and hopefully they will have good news in them!

  9. It is fascinating, Betsy, and we’re enjoying learning along the way. Granted it would be nice if everything ‘went by the book’, but since it’s not, we’re trying to learn and glean as much from the experience as we can. And hopefully we’ll be more prepared for next year!

    The queen comes with attendants to feed her. From what I understand, the queen does not eat on her own, but is fed be attending bees. So that is why they are included!

  10. I hope so too, Ellen! We shall see at the beginning of next week . . . I am looking forward that! Yes, bees can swarm after being established in a hive (and each year that goes by it becomes more and more likely to take place) so many beekeepers are always doing swarm control and prevention measures. It is unusual, though, for a hive to swarm the first year. So we were a little surprised about that!

    Thank you for sharing about the book. That is one that I haven’t read yet, but I think our library may have just recently gotten it. I’ll have to check and see!

  11. So sorry to hear about the bees! I hope that things have turned out well! I will keep reading to find out if you have posted more about it ;o)


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)