The plan A few weeks ago we purchased four hives from Wainui and transported them in the dead of night to Hororata. A check of the hives ...


By | Monday, December 13, 2010 Leave a Comment

The plan

A few weeks ago we purchased four hives from Wainui and transported them in the dead of night to Hororata. A check of the hives found them all to be healthy but one was queen-less. The option of letting the bees breed a new queen was discussed but it was concluded that it was a safer bet to introduce a new package (purchased) queen.

The enclosure containing the queen
is small plastic box with gaps to let
air through and allow her scent to
permeate the hive.
This was duly done. Queens purchased for re-queening come in little containers with a few bees to keep them company. The plastic enclosure has a door for egress which is blocked off with food in sufficient quantity that it would take the bees a few days to eat through. This container is attached to a frame within the hive and during the time it takes for the bees to eat their way through, the queen's scent permeates the hive so that they accept her as their queen when she is free (and don't kill her instead). It should take no more than about five days for this to happen.

The result

The hive looked populous and doesn't
appear to have suffered badly from
time without a queen.

Evidence of new brood within a healthy
On Monday we decided to use the warm evening temperatures to open up the hive and see how the introduced queen was doing. We found a happy hive and an empty enclosure. There was evidence of fresh brood so our new queen had been prodigious since her escape. Having evidence that the hive was now breeding we decided not to take out each frame to find the queen.

And other stuff...

Bees cooling outside the hive.
Whilst we were there we completed some work on the hives. One of the hives had become very hot and looked as if it was about to run out of spare frames in which to store honey. The bees to combat this had started cooling honey by attaching themselves to the outside of the hive. We decided to place an additional box on the top of the hive to allow them space to grow and introduced a scalloped lid which not only allows a  second egress point, it also allows venting and moisture to escape... a good idea since we don't want mold to develop in the hive.

We also introduced an 3/4 box on the top of the hive with the new queen as the it was fairly productive.
The final configuration: the furthest
hive is down to one brood box whilst
two of the ex-Wainui hives have
inherited its boxes.

At the other end of the scale one of the less-established hives was struggling. We found brood but didn't spot the queen. The brood didn't look overly healthy and the theory is that both the location and the two top boxes were making it hard for the low number of bees to maintain the correct temperature within the hive. It is from this particular hive that we removed the two boxes added to the healthier hives.
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