Saturday, March 8, 2014
Winter Deadout Inspection part II
Typical March weather gave me a chance to get out there and finish tearing apart and cleaning up the dead out hive I had started Thursday since today was cooler and back in the low 40's and the girls weren't flying.
The girls from the Garden Hives had managed to rob it completely of all the remaining honey Thursday afternoon and Friday which was a good thing and why I didn't interfere. There was a few pounds of honey left on about three brood frames with a nice pattern and I didn't want it to go to waste.
The remaining honey however made me curious as to why this hive died out. There should have been plenty of stored left for them to finish off Winter. This hive also had been a pretty large swarm I captured back in early June and had built up pretty well over the Summer. It really surprised me when I found it dead last month.
Inside I found comb like you see above and below here.
The second pic here is a frame the grls had just started building comb on to the bare plastic. Can you see the problem?
There are literally queen cups everywhere. There are eight full ones and another two partially built just in the two pictures above. All of them are open but look at the next picture.
The queen cup you see here was sealed and inside was a tiny dead half formed queen. I pretty much squished her into goo trying to get it open but this cup was on what would be called a perfect brood frame that had honey all around the edges, some pollen stored on the bottom and the remains of larva/eggs in the center.
Another thing interesting about all these queen cups is they are in the middle part of the frames which means they were more than likely emergency cups created over eggs that had already been laid after the death of a queen. Swarm cells are usually at the bottom of the frames and replacement cells are usually at the top so this colony going queenless was not a planned thing.
So for one reason or another the Queen died in this hive and they did not manage to get a new one up in time. I wonder if maybe one did hatch but was unable to take a mating flight or even have any drones available to mate with. Had it been Summer I could have easily either transferred some eggs from another hive or ordered a new replacement queen for them.
All in all I counted some 15 queen cups on about five frames they had managed to build up so I would say this dead out was a fluke or accident and had nothing to do with food stores or maybe even the cold directly.
At least I have five full or partially built up brood frames for this year's swarms to start on and about half gallon of burr comb to melt down and use.
Honestly the built up frames and surplus burr comb are worth their weight in gold they are so useful. I use bees wax for everything from candles to reloading and in a grid down situation it would be a major product from the hives for trade. Why I already have people stopping by wanting to buy bees wax as a matter of fact.
So it wasn't a total loss I should be able to replace the bees with a new swarm this season and bee back in business with these frames and boxes within the next month or so.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!