Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Egg Donation

I was planning to do this tomorrow, but work commitments meant that I had to do it today.  Actually, being a day early won't hurt.

Still, it has been raining persistently in Bath for a few days now, and I had to wait until around 4:30 before there was a break.  I headed over to the hives, and had another check through hive #2 - I figured, with the weather being so bad, there was no chance any queens would be out mating today.  Definitely no sign, so I am going to assume that the new queen did indeed swarm.  Ah well...

I left a gap between the two busiest frames, and then left hive #2 open, ready to receive a frame which I'd decided to donate from Miriam's hive.  The idea is that, given some eggs, the bees in hive #2 will make some of them into new queens, and this will return the hive to normal productivity.

I next opened up Miriam's hive.  the first task was to find Miriam herself - as I'm going to be moving a frame from her hive to #2, I want to make sure she's not on the frame.  If I accidentally move Miriam into the other hive, the bees in #2 will kill her - and I really want to avoid that!

I got 4 frames in, and spotted a frame with mixed brood (capped) and eggs.  This will be ideal.  I also noticed that there were two partially constructed queen cells - one small but empty, the other bigger (but still open at the bottom), and possibly with an egg inside.  If there is an egg in there (which I couldn't tell for sure, as it was very overcast and the light was poor) then that would be ideal, as the workers in #2 will immediately grow it into a new queen.  So long as Miriam isn't on this frame, this is going to be easy...

Of course, I then saw Miriam walking straight past the queen cells!  This made life a touch more difficult, as I now needed to move her off the frame and back inside the hive.  To do this I had to pick her up by her wings, taking care not to damage her.  I managed to get her on the third attempt, though she then managed to wriggle free and started walking round my hand.  I twisted around and gave her a clear path back to the top of the frames, which she followed.  It was a relief to see her disappear into the comforting semi-darkness of the hive.

Now that Miriam was safe, I could finish the task.  I brushed as many bees as I could off the frame (it's best to remove them if possible, as they may fight with the bees in #2), and then lowered the frame into the gap I'd left in hive #2.  Then, push the frames together, close up both hives, and the job is done.

My next inspection is on Tuesday - I'm hoping to see at least a couple of occupied queen cells in hive #2 when I next open up, and this will ensure the bees will be able to get back going again later in the summer.

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