A queen is born

From the start, our second hive struggled. We found its queen still in her cage two days after installation (the bees need to eat through the candy plug to free her). We interceded and, once released, the queen began to lay eggs—but never in great quantity. Then we couldn’t find her. The diminishing brood cells indicated she had gone, died, or stopped laying. We did find some queen cells though, which we left in hopes the hive would successfully make their own queen.

In the other, stronger hive, over-population became a concern—we didn’t want them to split off in a swarm. So after a couple weeks with no signs of a queen in the second hive, we pulled frames laden with capped brood and honey from the strong hive and placed them in the weaker one. Then we crossed our fingers that, with this minor intervention, the hive would solve its own problem.

And it did! We checked a week ago and Cherisse spied a new queen busily at work (we know she isn’t the original because she has no identifying dot). This past weekend we checked again, and the new queen has been laying eggs. Thanks to a combined effort, we may have averted disaster in both hives—avoiding a swarm and buying the other hive enough time (with stolen brood) to hatch their own queen. The next couple of months will be a critical time for both hives, as they work to build a strong, steady stream of brood and put away enough honey to see them through the winter. We’ll watch their progress.

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