A shortage of eggs

For weeks now both my hives have had no eggs or brood. So I’ve been reading about queenlessness and asking the advice of other beekeepers recently.

People said things like ‘Be patient. Bees won’t deliberately make themselves queenless’. So, rather than ordering a new queen in the post I managed to get a frame of eggs from a kind local beekeeper. A frame of eggs is a test of whether a hive is queenless – if it is, they should make queen cells. The bees did nothing with it. Did they have a queen, or were the eggs somehow damaged by being away from their colony and transported in the car without workers to care for them?

Still, I waited and hoped. And then finally last weekend one of the hives had the long looked-for eggs. One per cell, at the bottom of the cell. The sign of a queen! The bees seemed in a better mood. There were about three frames with eggs so I took one to the other colony which miraculously has no laying workers yet no eggs or brood either. It will be interesting to see what they do.

While I was waiting for eggs, some bees came to me. Unfortunately, they came to my chimney. Just as the old colony up there had started to dwindle and die out, a new swarm dramatically moved in, filling the air with bees. A procession of thoughtful neighbours knocked on the door to inform us… one said:  “If you go to the British Beekeepers’ website, you can find a local beekeeper”. When they discovered that I happen to be a beekeeper, I loved their confidence that I could sort it out… if only.

At the moment I am reading ‘Interviews with Beekeepers‘ by Steve Donohoe. There’s a lot to it and I am slowly moving through in the small bits and pieces of free time I get, taking in the advice and humour. It arrived quickly soon after ordering.

Below are a few photos of flowers out in Cornwall at the moment and cake that I’ve been eating.

Mexican fleabane

Mexican fleabane – this grows everywhere along the Cornish walls

Hawthorn

Hawthorn – the queen of May

Foxgloves

Foxglove – good for bumble bees

Victoria sponge cake

Victoria sponge cake and a cookie I won as part of my runner-up prize in our street’s VE day art contest

 

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper who has recently moved from London to windswept, wet Cornwall. I first started keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary in 2008, when I created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully! - future successes.
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16 Responses to A shortage of eggs

  1. At last! Cake photos!!! 😀
    So glad to hear your bees may be sorting things out. And congratulations (?) on the new chimney swarm.

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  2. beatingthebounds says:

    That’s quite funny – your neighbours advising you to get hold of a beekeeper. We had a swarm years ago – its very dramatic isn’t it? In our garden the honeybees seem to be ignoring the more obvious flowers and swarming all over a cotoneaster. You have foxgloves! I don’t think we’ll have those for a while yet.

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  3. hencorner says:

    Lovely to hear your news Emily 🙂
    It’s interesting to hear about your colonies with no eggs or brood – I had exactly the same this year with one of mine!
    I couldn’t see any signs of a queen mid March, when I was planning to shook swarm, I gave test frames from other hives twice, but nothing happened, then I thought I saw eggs, but assumed it was a trick of the light…
    I found a charged queen cell last weekend – how on earth did they make that?
    Then I found and marked a new queen!
    I’m sure I saw eggs and young larvae, the next inspection should confirm, and hopefully they are workers not drones….

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  4. Such an interesting story! The more you know about bees, the more you know you don’t know. I did not know a colony would stay without a queen. What was the queen doing? Was she on a well-deserved holiday? All our hives swarmed in the spring so we had no spring honey of our own. We have got them settled down now (we think :)) and they are very busy with an exceptionally warm and sunny spring over here. Amelia

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    • Emily Scott says:

      I wish I knew! Maybe early supercedure if they were unhappy with the queen? But seems an odd time of year to do it. Or a lack of forage stopping her laying perhaps. Glad you are back on track now 🙂

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  5. Mexican fleabane colonises many walls around here too but the big star at present is red valerian

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  6. karcuri13 says:

    Fingers crossed on no laying workers. I have one hive where I may be in that situation and it is no fun.

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  7. Bill Freeman says:

    “Be patient. Bees won’t deliberately make themselves queenless”. Just be patient and everything will be alright.

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