Yesterday, as I closed down the pollen trap on Briar to collect a sample for the Harvard Study, I decided to take a peek into Willow. In my last post, I was unsure that the queen was there. As I entered the hive, my worst thoughts were suspected. The population has dwindled. Most of the bees are remaining in the lower deep and there is only a very small amount of capped brood. I did not see any eggs or larvae. On the 5th frame in the upper deep I did find a lone capped queen cell.
I now believe that this hive is truly queenless. Something happened to the queen between late winter and early spring. The hive could not have survived the harsh winter without her and the early initial inspection of the hive had revealed a very strong colony initially. In fact, I was even considering the need to split this hive! Now, this is not an option. It is even possible that I could have squished her, in an earlier inspection.
I need to make some decisions now as the population will continue to decrease:
1. If there is a queen in the queen cup, it will be at least 20 or so days until she hatches, flies out and mates and begins to lay eggs. Should I wait it out and see? One queen cup makes me nervous. Time is crucial for bees to build up their population on Cape Cod due to the short seasons of warm weather. This hive is almost starting over.
2. Do I crush the queen cup and order a new already mated queen? This ensure that I have a successful queen. She will not leave the hive to mate, as sometimes queens fail to return and the hive needs to make another new queen. I can have a laying queen in the hive within a week.
3. Do I forgo the split of my other hive, Briar, and take some brood and nurse bees from this colony and have Willow use this brood to make another queen? I would like to see just more than 1 queen cup as I found earlier.
Decisions, decisions…..I think it is time to call my mentor.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest