Case of the Missing Eggs

June 8, 2009

I’m still having trouble getting my second hive to take. As previously described, back in April (Queens Aplenty and Supercedure) I installed two hives. One did great, the other barely had any brood, just four queen cells. I decided to let the hive replace their defective queen themselves through supercedure, and hoped to see brood after the new queen had had a chance to emerge and mate (about 24 days from the time she was laid, which would have been in mid-April).

However, when I went in in mid-May, there were still no eggs being laid. To beef up the hive, I swapped over some frames of brood from the stronger hive, including, I thought, some frames of unemerged eggs (on the theory that if, for some reason, I hadn’t gotten a good queen, the bees would make one out of my eggs).

I’ve been in once since then and then again today, and I still am not sure I have a good laying queen. There was maturing brood, but I’m pretty sure it’s just the brood I carried over from the strong hive: there are only 2 – 3 frames of them, and they’re all fairly advanced. No eggs at all that I could find.

I decided to give transplanting frames of eggs over and from the strong hive and letting the weak hive create their own queen one more try, but, amazingly, I couldn’t find any eggs in the strong hive either! There’s definitely a good, strong queen in there, but I swear I went through all 18 frames in the two brood chambers and found each one either full of developing larvae, capped cells or honey / pollen, but not a single egg that I could see. Now, I know, they’re tiny and easy to miss, but I must have been in there for an hour, carrying each frame out into the sun to get a good gander at it, and I’ll be darned if I couldn’t find a single one.

At this point, I’m fighting the inclination to throw up my hands and give up on the weak hive. My plan at this point is to do some poking to see if I can find a mail-order queen (which is probably what I should have done a month ago) and see if she can save the day.

On the bright side, the strong hive of Carniolans is going like gangbusters. The first honey super is pretty close to full and the second, that I put on last weekend, is filling up nicely (but still less than 1/4 full, I’d say, very little capping so far).

Also, my light sculpture is making slow progress. Last year, I strung some battery-powered LED christmas lights into an empty frame, in the hopes that the bees would build comb around it, creating an organic sculpture (Sculpture Kick-Off). I got the frame into the hives too late, however (they stop building new comb by July). This year, I included the frame in the first honey super I put on about a month ago, and they’re making slow, but meaningful progress filling it out:


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