After what felt like an eternity (it was really only a few weeks) the new queens arrived on Tuesday!
They’re supposed to be a very strong line of Cordovan Italian and they really were a lovely rust color. I decided that I’d work on the hives at home first and so I got my supplies together and headed out to do the splits.
I opened hive #4 and got to work. I just started using a frame perch (it’s a little stand that hooks on the side of the hive that you can rest frames on to make more room on the box to work without setting them on the ground) and set that out and pulled a couple of frames.
Going through I found plenty of honey and pollen but the frames of brood were mostly hatched with no eggs. I finally found a cluster of queen cells on the center of a frame and realized I was very likely queenless.
Further inspection confirmed the suspicion as I only found a few larva that were near ready for capping. I hesitated here not sure if I should split this hive or carve out the queen cells and put one of the new queens in that hive. In the end, with the number of sizeable capped queen cells they already had, I opted to proceed with the split while making a note to monitor the population and check up on them and augment with frames of brood if needed.
I took a frame of brood, a frame of honey, and a frame of pollen and shook a few frames of bees into the neighboring hive #3 and added their new queen in her cage. I added some extra protein supplement on the top bars and added a top feeder with some 1-1 sugar syrup with an essential oil infusion. I gave some drawn comb back to hive #4 and closed both hives and moved onto hive #2.
Now this hive was packed with brood. I found the queen on the sixth frame I pulled and set her aside. She was huge. I took two frames of brood from this hive (they had six frames front and back of capped brood) a frame of honey and a frame of pollen from this hive to do the second split into hive #1. I finished this split up the same as the last one and packed up my gear and headed to my second yard over in Vernon.
This yard has my strongest hive. Hive #5 produced well for me last year and I was a little hesitant to split it up but it had plenty of bees and brood to spare. I took 3 frames of brood, pollen, and honey from hive #5 and split into hives #6, 7, and 8.
I was stung through my ultra breeze suit for the first time! I was bending over and my chin was pressed up against the mesh of the veil and one bee took advantage. I couldn’t even be mad.
The brood pattern in hive #5 was beginning to look a little shaky. The queen has been solid but this will be her third year. Unfortunately it may be time to requeen her. So it is in the bee yard! I’ll be following up on Friday or Saturday to ensure that all of the queens have been released from their cages and accepted by the colonies. If any are rejected I can probably cut some of the queen cells out of hive #1 and introduce those to the splits to keep them going.