There’s a reason I don’t clip the wings of my queens. Yes, I rarely find the queens which makes wing-clipping a moot point, but the main reason I don’t do it is that my queens need everything to be in their favour to survive my ineptitude. Even though my capacity for muppetry is exceedingly high, I astounded even myself yesterday.
I went to check on the bees. Hive five was a hive that was created last spring from a botched attempt at an artificial swarm without locating the queen. I stole a frame of brood with a sealed queen cell on it from another hive and miraculously it became queen-right. It was always a small hive and I wondered whether it would make it through the winter.
Well it did – and it is buzzing with bees.
As the hive didn’t have a stand, I decided to give it one of the new stands I bought and painted. I am in the middle of painting my hives in bright colours – I thought it looked cool – this will be my undoing.
Having moved the hive and put the new stand in place, I realised the brood box was unpainted wood – squeak, I thought, I could put the frames in another green brood box that I had and then paint this one. So without a care in the world I started to move the frames over – if you are an experienced beekeeper you can see where this might be going.
I decided to check out the frames as I moved them – they were chock full of brood and – uh oh queen cups and a sealed queen cell. No worries I thought as I deftly sliced off the queen cell, I will add on a super and hopefully they won’t swarm – there were so many bees that I didn’t think they had already swarmed.
So that only left the old brood box – this was full of bees too, so I banged it over the hive and then I may have banged it on the floor to dislodge the bees.
It was right about then I realised with a sickening thought that I didn’t know where the queen was – I hadn’t seen her. Maybe I had squished her in my mucking around with the boxes. Worse I had just destroyed a sealed queen cell and I couldn’t remember if I had actually seen eggs or just brood.
So it is quite possible that my meddling has resulted in the accidental death of a queen and her designated successor from a hive that was, to all intents and purposes, flourishing very well without me …. so much for promises to be a better bee keeper.
I added supers onto three hives, then made up more frames for two more. I will add these on to number 1 hive and evil hive tomorrow.
Fingers crossed for hive 5.
N.B. Despite the writing stress I am going to try and post more frequently as lots is happening round here … as usual.