Friday, June 22, 2007

God Save the Queen

The theme of this entry is 'God Save the Queen', no I don't mean the Queen of England, or even Freddy Mercury, let me fill you in...

Well after my experiences with my Bee's building comb between the top of their frames to the bottom of the crown board, I consulted the Bee Keeper who sold me my hive.

I was informed that Bee's like to build their nests in an upward progression and this was probably a sign they had filled their bottom brood chamber and wanted to move up. I responded to this by installing a second Brood chamber.

I observed my hive for a week or so and I began to notice a lull in the number of Bee's entering or exiting the hive; this brought certain concerns to me.

I did a quick inspections and I noted the Bee's were not moving up into the new brood chamber at all, but the lower brood chamber still seems to have plenty of working bee's in it.

Just this week I had a suprise inspection notice from our State Bee Inspector on my front door. I am familiar with the gentleman who does the inspections from hearing him talk at Bee School and I was pleased to get an expert oppinion on the status of my Bee's.

The inspection report said, weak colony, Varoa, needs requeening and 'call me...', with a number.

I had suspicions of the need to requeen, especially my colony being slow to expand in the new hive, but the number of work bee's visible had curtailed my fears for a while.

Perhaps my colony has a failing queen instead of no queen at all - this would explain the continued presence of workers.

To cut a long story short, I called the inspector back and he confirmed the notes in his report, giving some advice on the plan of action for each. My Varoa issue was a general one, which will need treating at the end of the season.

I was advised to requeen my colony immediately as there was a good chance the colony might otherwise fail. I was also pleased to learn that there was a Bee Keeper just around the corner from my house who reered Queens and also had one available, naturally I took his number.

I called the man up and took a 2 minute ride over to his house. I was suprised to learn I knew him; I'd often stopped to talk to the man whilst out walking my dog on many past occasions. I knew he kept a couple of hives, but I had not imagined the extent of his involvment.

The Beekeeper was kind enough to give me a young Italian Queen then and there, for a small donation to the local beekeeping society and I was naturally happy to oblige.

I took the Queen home in a small cylindrical plastic cage with instructions on how to deploy her in the colony.

I was to take out one of the central frames in the lower brood chamber of the hive and gently embed the queen cage into the wax on the frame - just enough to stick her to the frame. She was then to remain there for a period of 3-4 days; to ensure the Bees in the colony would get a chance to get used to her presence ( presumably the presence of her pheramones). I was told the surrounding workers bee's could not attack her through the cage and would even begin to feed her over the four day period.

Once the time was up; I was instructed to take a frame with just a few bee's on it and to let the new queen out onto this. If the Bee's were to attack her, I was told to recage her for a couple more days, otherwise if they was social with her, I could let her go into the Colony.

Well it was dark when I got home that night so I kept the queen cage in my house overnight in a warm spot. I was told she had been fed up until that morning so she would last overnight without any issues.

I put on my Bee suite first thing next morning before going to work and placed the new queen into the hive. Given the time constraints of working a large quantity of Bee's before going to work in the morning. I didnt push her cage into a frame, but pushed it into some wax comb on top the frame instead, which held her quite firm.

I immediately noticed bee's begin to surround and brush antennae with her, which was definately heart warming to watch. I put a couple of frames in contact with the cage to assist the bee's in reaching to feed her.

Well its been three days since I closed up the hive now. I hope to go in there tommorow and let you know how it goes!

Until then... Long live the queen!


Melanie Rimmer said...

Good luck with your new queen. Bee inspectors really are worth their weight in gold, aren't they?

Bee Dummy said...

Yes - are State has been pushing back the budget on our inspector year after year - we really could not live without him!