On Friday I took a road trip to The Kelley Bee Company, to pick up a new Italian queen been. After taking a peek at my hives, a few days ago, I noticed that one seemed not quite right. I couldn't find the queen, but that is not so unusual. However, there were no eggs, no larvae, and no capped brood.
I felt a little panicky at that point because some bees were suspiciously flying around in our garage. I should say there were a lot of bees flying around and landing in small clumps. It really wasn't swarming behavior, but obviously something was wrong.
Here we have the new queen in her cage. Not a very good shot, but she is the one on the left with the white dot on her back. Often times locating the queen, while doing a hive inspection, can get tricky. There are so many bees and they will also try to hide/protect her. Thus, marking her helps me tremendously. On the left is the candy, "food", for her and the, "attendants", in this small cage. They take car of all her needs, as her only role in life is to lay eggs in the hive.
I removed the small cork, at the end of the wooden cage, and replaced it with a marshmallow. This gives the worker bees a chance to, "get to know her", before she flies out into the hive. The workers will eat away the marshmallow and thus welcome her into the hive. In this photo you can barely make out the marshmallow topped queen cage at the rear bottom of the frames. I moved the frames together to make the queen cage stable during her release.
This photo shows the beginning of a queen cup. Bees will create this cup like structure to rear a new queen for their hive. In order for this to work viable eggs must be present in the comb, and I didn't see any of this. If an egg can be used, the cup is closed and a new queen can be reared in this way. However, bees will sometimes make theses structures in the frames. One piece of literature I read described these cups as, "furniture", in the hive.
Lastly I noticed that the bees were still creating new comb on the frames. Making me feel like they totally haven't given up on their hive home.
Hopefully this new queen will be healthy and keep her royal subjects in line :)
I will check on her in a couple more days.