I wrote earlier that I hived a new queen bee on August 7 and released her a few days later, after the hive and she got acquainted. She took a little time to settle in but by August 23 she appeared to be laying eggs, which was confirmed five days later. There was a good age (size) range of larvae in the brood cells which means the queen was laying regularly. A large number of brood cells were already capped which happens about a week after the eggs are laid. It was a good start for the new queen and improves chances that the hive will be large enough to survive the winter. While the hive was queenless for about 6 weeks, the bees produced lots of honey in honey cells as well as in what had been brood cells.
I returned to check the hive on Wednesday, September 11. It was the first time that Tobias Heller (8 yrs old) – a garden member with his mother Barbara – handled the bees and frames. He now has his own bee jacket with veiled hood, and is a natural. We weren’t surprised since he’s been researching bees, listening closely to my explanations for months and explaining a lot about the hive and bees to garden members who came around during hive inspections. Even when the bees were climbing around on his gloved hands, he was calm and collected.
We checked 2 of the 3 hive boxes, and discovered that the first brood from the new queen had ‘hatched’, that there is still capped brood that will produce more bees, but that there were no larvae of any age. That means the queen stopped laying at least a week ago, and maybe longer. We don’t know why, and we’re not sure if she is still in the hive. We tried to think like a bee and thought maybe she was not laying because she was not happy with the existing honeycomb. So we added a new 4th box of frames, and sprinkled some pollen in to encourage the bees to come up and pull out the embossed wax to make honeycomb cells for eggs. We’ll return next week to see what’s happened, with hopes that our guess was right and that the bees are working the wax and the queen is laying again.