By Beekeeper Mel Gadd
Learning Garden Hive
Since our spring update, several people noticed that the activity at the Learning Garden hive has dropped considerably. Initial inspection indicated that the bees might have abandoned this hive, as the normal busyness we are use to seeing this time of year is not happening.
So I performed a full inspection—opened the hive, pulled out bars with comb, checked the comb—to figure out the status of the hive. This is what I found:
- Number of bees drastically reduced (just a handful left).
- Very little stored honey, but a large amount of stored pollen.
- No brood (egg, larval, or pupal cells) in the hive.
- A number of open queen cells in the middle of the honeycomb. (Workers create these “supersedure cells” when they need to replace the queen. On the other hand, if the workers create “swarm cells”—queen cells at the bottom of the honeycomb—the hive is overcrowded and getting ready to swarm. This hive has no such cells.)
All of this indicates that the queen died or disappeared and the workers were not successful at raising a replacement before she was gone.
Within the next couple of weeks, I will add bees from one of the Skinny Field hives and buy and install a new queen. Both Skinny Field Hives (5 and 6, if you’re looking at the map in the spring update) are doing extremely well, which would allow me to split the bees in one of them. I will then merge these bees with those in the Learning Garden hive and introduce the new queen.
Feel free to visit the Learning Garden hive and open the windows and see if you notice the change in activity.
Questions? Contact Mel.