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They are getting going early! Go check your hives!

It was a nice warm afternoon yesterday, Friday April 4th and I wanted to give my hives a check through.  I had given them a very quick check on March 16th and they were building up nicely then.

The first hive was still doing well, although I didn’t see the queen, there were lots of eggs and brood at all stages, they had plenty of stores and there were drones in the hive.  I put a super on this hive and felt, that finally, I might know what I was doing with these interesting little creatures.

On checking the second hive, this smug feeling quickly changed!  Again I didn’t see the queen, when I had checked these hives nearly 3 weeks ago I saw both queens, but I also found that in the second hive there were no eggs or open brood at all, only sealed brood.  I also found 3 sealed queen cells! Queen cells! How did that happen!  It’s April 4th!

My queens are clipped and the hive was still very full of bees, so I suspected they had swarmed, the queen had fallen to the ground due to having a clipped wing, and the swarm had returned to the hive. I checked through a second time to see if I could see her ( no sign) and, when I had shut the hive up, I checked all around the hive to see if I could see either the queen on the floor or a cluster of bees that might be still with her outside the hive. There was no sign of either!

I am part of the queen rearing group that is currently running and Phil Clemente has offered to advise us on the subject, so I very quickly got on the phone to him, lucky for me he was available, and got his advice on what to do.

I prepared a mating hive and put one of the queen cells in there with a cup of bees. Thanks to Phil’s tip of shaking bees into a washing up bowl, spraying them with water and then picking them up in a cup and putting them in the hive, this was surprisingly easy to do! I left 1 queen cell in the original hive.

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Queen cell on the frame ready to go in the mating hive.

So now I wait and see firstly if the little mating hive will settle down, nurture and raise a new queen and secondly to see if the main hive can successfully raise and mate their new queen.  I just hope other peoples hives are producing the drones I will need!!

So it wasn’t quite the there quarters of an hour to an hour of beekeeping I was planning, it took most of the afternoon! But, as always with my bees, I learnt so much.

I also wanted to pass this on, as it might be worth you checking your hives too!

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