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  • Writer's pictureLinda

Swarm preparations

2024 Cliffe Castle Bee Blog #7

Mike and I found charged, but damaged, queen cells on the bottom of one frame and some cells on other frames of the Observation Hive this morning. This is a clear message that the bees are preparing to swarm. “Charged” queen cells have a small larva lying in a pool of white royal jelly at the bottom of a long wax cell that the house bees make to raise a new queen.

To deal with this we had had to do a quick 'split', in other words move our red Queen Ruby out of the hive and into a nucleus box to travel to our association apiary. This is a simple way to prevent the bees swarming.

We put Ruby on the frame where we found her in the smaller box. We added two frames of sealed brood, two frames of food and a frame of comb. We shook the bees from another frame into the box, to make sure Ruby would have enough bees with her to keep this small colony in working order.

Mike and I will need to go back on Sunday to check for emergency queen cells in the Observation Hive. This will be just in time to choose the best open cell and knock back any spares, completing the process needed to prevent a swarm. We then leave the Observation Hive colony alone for 3-4 weeks to produce a new queen, fingers crossed!

So, until at least 2 June (possibly a week later) there will be no adult queen in the Observation Hive. This means that the colony will stop growing, with no new eggs being laid. When we do find a queen in residence and signs that she is laying eggs, we will catch and mark her with a green spot, to show that she is a new queen born in 2024.

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