I now had two queenless hives from the removal. Basically, I had a bunch of bees from two hives. Without a queen, the bees have no way of making more worker bees. Sometimes a worker bee will lay eggs but they are only capable of laying unfertilized eggs which produce only drones.
Drones are male bees. Still useful in the bee world but a hive full of drones will soon perish. Drones aren’t capable of doing regular bee work like collecting nectar, pollen and making comb. They do not have stingers and have huge eyes to spot queens on their maiden flight.
The good news is that workers can make queens! They need freshly laid eggs from the queen herself or another queen. The key here is bee eggs and it doesn’t matter where or what queen laid them.
Once the bees are given eggs they will feed the newly hatched larva royal jelly -the food of queens- and care for her until she is safely sealed in a peanut-sized queen cell. We made sure we had a few combs of freshly laid eggs. Which look like rice grains but are very small and almost impossible to see.
Once the bees were on my farm, I announced to bees and people alike that these bees were now Kumu Aina bees and they would now be peaceful, calm bees. We left off our bee clothes, gloves and veils and not one of us was stung.
We placed the bee box from the hive we had recovered including the dying queen on a stand and removed the seal to let air into the hive and the bees out. The field bees flew on an orientation flight around the hive box to familiarize themselves to their new hive position. It was late, so I did not think they were going anywhere soon.
The bees, the second team gave us, we placed into an emtpy top bar hive along with just one brood comb from another hive. I took it from my small nuc hive which I recently had requeened.
A nuc hive is usually a smaller hive and there are various uses for them. For me, it was a small hive that I was nurturing to become a regular-sized hive. I took it from there because I knew I could just open the top and take it without much effort or bees on the comb. The nuk hive was small and weak but was on its way to recovery. By giving the new hive at least one comb from the nuk with brood was somewhat of a guarantee that they would stay put for a while until I could give them more comb.
I laugh about it now because in the morning all the bees except for a few guarding the brood comb left and joined the nuc box. The pheromones from the stolen comb led them to leave that top bar and join the nuc! There were so many bees stuffed into this nuc box the next day. Since it had a queen it had everything they wanted except room. I removed all the bees including the queen and all the combs into the larger top bar hive and emptied the nuc. They are currently doing fabulous and have halfway filled up the box with new comb.
When we went into the other hive, and found that the queen had perished. I removed her from the cage and gave her to the bees to continue their mourning. We checked through the hive, emptied out some debris and cleaned the bottom board. Withing the next few days the bees were busy making queens from the eggs of the now dead queen. They made a 15-20 queen cells in a matter of days.
I texted my friend, Jen, of the second bee hive removal team, and she advised me to remove all but 3 queen cells and put on a queen excluder for a few days to prevent a new queen from leaving with a bunch of bees. The excluder is a little grate that is placed over the entrance. It prevents the queen from leaving because the grate will not accommodate her passage but the workers can come and go as they please.
When I went inside the hive to remove some of the queen cells, I found less than half still existed. I think I heard a queen piping too. A newly hatched queen will pipe a sound that other queens will answer back. The queen will then go and kill the newly hatched queen before she is strong enough to do battle. I found one queen cell that a worker bee was chewing the cap off. When I assisted, I found it was empty. At this point, I felt if I removed queen cells, I might be removing ones with queens in them and leaving blanks, so I didn’t remove one and closed up the hive.
If these bees don’t produce a queen or if the queen is lost during her maiden flight or is mortally wounded in battle. I will have to provide it with more eggs. I have faith that this will not be the case. If everything goes as I believe it will, the new virgin queen will leave the hive box to mate with a drone congregation and return ready to lay eggs. I will know the success of this in 2-3 weeks. If I find the queen in the hive and not yet gone on her maiden flight, I may relocate this Langstroth hive to a top bar.
That is one of the things I enjoy most about beekeeping and that is making logical decisions to help increase their numbers, give them a happy, healthy home and maybe most of all enjoy delicious real honey without chemicals. I feel honey is the only true sweetener and that it is what our ancestors used. Our bodies can digest it properly and maintain our health unlike refined sugars.
I don’t recommend all things labeled honey. Some fast food chains give honey with their food in packets that only contain 10% or less honey using HFCS (high frutose corn syrup) for the 90%. Some grocery store honey is from bees fed HFCS instead of flower nectar. The most reliable honey comes from local, beekeepers. Talk to your local farmers and buy the real raw honey using natural beekeeping methods, without chemicals and essential oil free.
Sometimes the best test of all is just the taste. Real honey from nectar taste amazing. Eat more honey and support your local farmer and beekeepers! Yay! Everyone wins. Aloha!