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.