Many of you may tire of my chatter about the bees. Honestly, I get tired myself from my own lack of experience and watching YouTube about bees. Granted, they are fascinating creatures, but I’m beginning to think they are like putting children through college. Every week there’s a new expense.
If you read my post last week, you know that I THOUGHT the hives were queenless. Evidently, they were just taking a rest. When I opened them up a few days later, there were eggs, larvae, and capped brood. I was mixed with happiness and indecision because I had already ordered their replacements. After all, my second opinion had said, “Your bees will be dead in 6 weeks.” I had $100 of shipping and new bees on their way. Like I told my fellow bee association member, we beekeepers can be our own worst enemy.
Thanks to Wolf Creek Bees here in middle Tennessee, Queen Liz and Queen Victoria arrived on Friday with lovely red marks on their heads (I’m hoping the red will help these old eyeballs). I placed them on the kitchen counter, covered them with a dishcloth, and wondered what to do. I wasn’t positive the original queens were in there, but eggs didn’t get there by themselves. If they were still in there, I now had too many queens.
Despite the 90-degree weather, I suited up and went into the lower hive on Friday. This being the hive that I had never located the queen. After examining several frames, I spotted her. Matter of fact, she seemed to run straight at me while I unsuccessfully attempted to wrangle her. I’m guessing she was a bit perturbed because I kept taking the roof off her house. Next thing I know she’s out of the hive on the ground. In that moment, I had to decide. I ended her life then and there. After all, Queen Vic was sitting on the cabinet waiting for her colony. It was still sad.
I started with the next hive. No luck queen hunting. Chances are she heard about the neighbor. I called dehydration and went to the house. Saturday morning, I convinced David to go with me. Four eyeballs must be better than two. The day before I smoked the hive a lot and put a queen excluder in between the two brood boxes. I thought I might narrow the search to the bottom box.
Suddenly, there she was. Like the first queen, she was making her escape to any dark corner available. Running out of the box and down the side, we lost her in the crowd. Persistence paid off. David spotted her hiding under the box handle. I caught her and held her in my glove. David asked what now. I just couldn’t bear to end her life.
I put her in a nuc box and closed it tight. I came back to the house, called another bee association member, watched Dave at Barnyard Bees split a hive (I hear Dave’s intro in my head at night…this is Dave with Barnyard Bees) and went back and did exactly what he said. David wasn’t thrilled about catching the queen again, but he did, and we put the original queen back in her hive. I mean, she did nothing wrong. Queen Liz went into the new split and now I have three hives.
There’s many reasons it may fail. The hive is a new one. It’s late in the year and I’ll have to feed them like male teenagers. The bees may all go back to the original hive. Right now, the nuc is sitting on my front porch among the potted plants. They seem to like their new red spotted queen just fine and working their way through the candy glob on the end. Same for Queen Victoria in the other hive.
As I heard David telling our son, it was a stressful week for these beekeepers. Most of it coming from the inexperience and lack of knowledge about beekeeping. Believe me when I say, there’s more to this beekeeping thing than you can imagine. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret starting, but maybe I should have given sheep or chickens more consideration.