Oxford Bees

Queenless? An inauspicious start for Colony 13

Submitted by will on Fri, 08/06/2018 - 21:52

This afternoon I returned to the box within a box which contained Colony 13.

It was placed with it's opening almost directly in front of Hive H. How could they not be delighted with the hive and march straight in. Perhaps the bees had other things going on. I decided to act.

I brought a large white board up to the mouth of the hive and bridged it with white paper card. I then carefully removed the inner box and shook it onto the board. To my dismay the bees started going over the edge of the board but not into the mouth of the hive.

I took the bee brush and brushed some towards the hive mouth. All of a sudden the march into the hive  began. A stream of bees walked in, leaving some behind to fan the signal where they were. Hived!

Hived? There was a striking bee corpse on the white board. It was a Queen. She was larger than the others and had the distinctive rounded thorax (middle part of her body) and longer abdomen. Some bees clustered around her.

I moved her body onto a piece of white paper on top of the hive. Then I went away to eat. The bees were  gathering on the paper and flying wildly around. I went back to the hive and put the corpse and the paper into the body of the hive. Within a few minutes almost all flying had ceased.

My bee group says that it's not uncommon for a cast to have more than one virgin Queen. Prime swarms are led by the old Queen and are very unlikely to have any other Queens with them. Virgin Queens will fight, so perhaps this Queen was killed by a rival. She didn't appear to be damaged, but the double box arrangement was not a good idea.

Later the same evening I put a hive strap on to the hive and took it down to central Oxford. It'll take a few days to find out whether this swarm will survive. I don't have much expectation if it's a small-ish cast swarm in June.