Another day, another swarm…
Yesterday’s swarm (the second of the year if we don’t count the four times we housed our first swarm) is still in its two boxes. It ought to be in one box but the swarm decided for reasons best known to itself to split. By a process of elimination we worked out that it was most likely to be a cast from the original swarm of two weeks ago. So this morning we went in to have a look. We opened one of the hives that contained what was left behind when the swarm set off for pastures new (after a brief spell at the top of a tree). It ought to have had a mated queen and some bees busying themselves drawing out foundation. We didn’t find a queen and there was no sign of eggs or brood so this may well be queenless.
So we opened the other half which split off from this swarm. And found chaos. Lots of bees and lots of queen cells. It was clearly on the point of swarming. We started tearing down the queen cells hoping that would change the bees’ mind. And then to our horror saw virgin queens starting to emerge from the torn down cells. We chased and caught two, killed one, and saw a fourth scurry back into the hive. So what’s going on in there now is anyone’s guess. What this means is that a single colony has flown the coop taking most of the honey with it, and the remnants are now taking up four separate and wholly unproductive hives on the lawn. Unproductive in terms of honey, that is.
At this point I summoned Patrick. After a look round and listening to a lengthy summary of the comedy to date he decided the best thing to do was just leave everything well alone and have another look in a week’s time. His guess was that we’d stopped them swarming and they ought to settle down. If things go according to plan we should be able to make up three or four nuclei with a 2011 queen which could then be sold. Very impressive he said.
Which doesn’t explain why it feels as if we’re being given the run-around, doubtless as revenge for the honey we extracted last year. At the moment the bees are clearly winning.