Monday, 15 May 2017

Caroline's New Home

I mentioned in last week's post that our local councillor, Ian, has been helping me at the apiary so that he can improve his beekeeping skills.  Well, after Caroline was moved into the nucleus last week, she was looking for a new owner.  And Ian has been wanting to get some bees of his own.  So, after a little bit of match-making on my part, Ian is now the owner of Caroline and her bees!

We met at dusk on Friday for Ian to make the pickup.  Which sounds dramatic (maybe?) but really is just practicality - moving a nucleus during daylight hours is not a good idea, because all the foraging bees will still be outside collecting nectar and pollen.  Bees stop flying when the sun sets, so dusk is the perfect time to move a nuc (or hive) to make sure that all the bees are at home.

There isn't a lot to moving a nuc or hive, actually - you need to put a ratchet strap round under the floor and over the roof to hold everything together.  And the entrance block has to be rotated to the "closed" position, and held in place with gaffer tape.  Once that's done, everything is bee-proof and ready to go.

We took the nuc to Ian's garden, and placed it on the spot where his hive will be.  I removed the gaffer tape, but left the entrance block closed, and then left Ian to wait for an hour while the bees settled down from their journey.  Ian then turned the entrance block to the "open" position, so that in the morning the bees would be able to get out and about.

We left the bees alone on Saturday, and then I went back to Ian's garden on Sunday to help move the bees into the new hive that Ian has built.  We moved the bees frame-by-frame, did a quick check to see if Caroline was still present (yes) and laying (yes), and then put the roof on.  Job done, and here's Caroline's new home in Ian's garden:

A brief update on my hives:  Miriam's bees are doing well, and I added another box of honey frames to the hive on Saturday.  I found one queen cup with an egg in it, and cut it off the comb.  I will need to let the colony re-queen (i.e. replace Miriam) at some point this year, but ideally I'd prefer to wait until I have a laying queen in the other hive.

Looking into the queenless hive (formerly the Kingdom of Caroline), I located the queen cup which had an egg in it last week.  The bees have done a great job and grown a lovely big queen cell - one of the best I've seen!  There was another one on the adjacent frame, and no doubt there are more in the brood box, but I decided not to disturb the bees too much this week.  Next week I will need to go through and remove the other queen cells, leaving just the big one.


  1. What makes it one of the best queen cells you've ever seen? Is it just the size, or are there aspects of its design and/or structure that make certain cells superior?

    1. Hi Sophie,

      It's size and structure. Basically, what you want in an ideal queen cell is long and straight - and this one is both.

      I did a couple of posts last year about queen bee development - this one looks at larval development, while this one has some info in the phenotypical differentiation between workers and queens.

      What I haven't covered (yet) is the different circumstances in which queen cells are produced, and how they affect the size and shape. That's one for the next post, I think!