It’s not a zip code, it’s the number of queen bees living in my hive at various times between May and October 2013. The first queen (1) went into the new hive in May; five weeks later, a second queen was spotted in the hive but I didn’t know where she came from (12). I gave this second one to a fellow beekeeper and a week later, my remaining queen was also gone (120). My last report was about the new queen purchased (1201). This new queen, hived in early September, laid eggs for only two weeks and then stopped for unknown reasons. The honeybee farm that provided her (Johnston’s Honey Bee Farm in upstate NY) graciously replaced her at no cost, and that new queen was active immediately. In early October, Tobias Heller (garden member and new beekeeper) and I discovered some very interesting and good news about the hive when we did a complete hive inspection with Barbara Heller’s help.
1) a queen was laying regularly as evidenced by larvae of different ages visible in the honeycomb
2) we did not see the new marked queen from Johnston’s (with a pink dot for identification) but saw evidence of queen activity (larvae)
3) there was a large amount of capped brood – meaning that eggs had been laid in these cells at least a week earlier
4) there was lots of honey to feed the bees over the winter
5) a good amount of pollen was stored in the hive; pollen is needed to ‘build bees’ so the bees were preparing food for the new population
6) the bee population was noticeably higher than before, another good sign the hive would overwinter successfully; we guesstimated about 15,000 bees – about 10,000 is a minimum winter population needed to keep the hive warm enough
7) there was an empty queen cell attached to one of the frames in the middle hive box, indicating that the hive had raised their own queen from one of the worker larvae and that she had successfully emerged from the cell
8) we DID find another queen (12012), just by her very large size, that was most likely the one produced by the hive and that emerged from the queen cell; there is some chance she was fertilized on a nuptial flight in the neighborhood but we don’t know.
9) we have repeatedly found no diseases or parasites of any kind in the hive although other beekeepers on the upper west side have had such problems.
We hope the hive continues to thrive for the remainder of the fall and through the winter. Minimal inspection will be done from now until March or April and that only to see if the bees need additional food and are healthy