This month we found our new hive was queenless. We started this hive with a swarm that we captured in our pasture. It was a small swarm, but we had great hopes for it to grow much larger since we captured it in early May. Something happened to the queen, though and so what we found inside the hive was a laying worker. The worker was laying several drone cells. We knew they were drones by the size of the cell, they protrude out, making a dome shape on the bee board. Regular eggs are almost flush with the board.
Even though this hive was queenless, they were storing away a lot of honey and we didn't want to lose these hard workers. A queenless hive will die off with in weeks, because no new workers are produced and the average worker life span is about 35 days. We decided to see if we could combine these bees into our other thriving hive with an active queen.
We took out the boards of the queenless hive and brushed the bees of the boards. Then we put the honey box on the active hive. We are hoping the workers will return to their honey boards and continue packing it away for winter. The laying worker may return to the new hive, but if she does it is expected that the bees will kill her and allow the queen to continue her reign.
In the vimeo video, you will see us poking the drone cells to kill them. After we put the honey boards on the active hive, the housekeeper bees worked over the boards and removed the dead drone larva from the hive. Picture below!
Double click on the photo above to get a good look at the bee skeletons.
Check it out on our vimeo site:
The vimeo address is: https://vimeo.com/44588329
I will update you on how everything turns out in a few weeks. For now, we don't want to disturb the ladies.