A few weeks ago, in the midst of the spring nectar flow, with queen cells popping up everywhere, BeeMan decided to split a hive using some of the unwanted queen cells. The three other hives, with more room to grow and no longer honey-bound, resumed laying eggs and all is well.

Honey-bound is when the bees are so busy bringing nectar and pollen to the hive that there is no room for baby bees. The solution for the bees is to swarm. BeeMan averted the swarm by adding more boxes with frames and by providing empty frames in the queen box for the queen to lay eggs.. Having no longer a need to swarm, the queen would kill off any pretenders to the throne. And then, she would resume laying.

And that is what happened. The three original hives are busily filling the frames with brood and honey.

The split, however, never managed to produce a queen. BeeMan surmises that the queen cells he gave them were not viable. The queen from the original hive may have stung them before he created new hive. Why does he think this? He had taken a couple of queen cells back to the house and opened them. They were not alive.

Today’s mission in the bee yard was two-fold: recombine the split with its original hive and check to see if honey is ready to be harvested.

Combining the hives was pretty simple. Put the queen-less box on top of the original hive. Ah, but not that simple. The new bees in the original hive will not recognize the bees that had left. To make for a happy transition, a layer of newspaper goes between the two boxes. The bees will get used to their smells as they eat through the paper and become one big family.

And what about the bees who were out foraging when the hives were combined? They come back home to discover that home is not where they left it!

BeeMan says they hopefully will smell their group and find their way to the right hive. I certainly hope so!

As for the honey harvest, one large honey box on the third hive is ready to go! The other two hives have filled out frames but have not capped all the honey cells yet. We plan to go back into the third hive later this week for the first box of honey.

What’s the rush? Usually we wait until the end of July, but with a bear lurking in the area, we want to be sure the honey ends up in our tummies, not his!

Bear print on our property. Photo by Rich DeMarco.

2 thoughts on “Oops, No Queen: Recombining a Hive

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