The bee-heading hasn't gone to plan
On Monday afternoon I went to the Beehaus to see whether the two colonies were mingling and how they were taking to Queen Priscilla (that's the name my husband christened the new queen). The sight that met my eyes wasn't a very encouraging one and I've actually felt pretty upset about it.
When I opened up on the side where I'd put the new colony, I was initially struck at how few bees there were. They were a mini mini nuc when I got them last week but they seem to have decreased in size. I did spot the queen as you can see in the pic above. There is brood but only on two frames and just a very small amount.
Another thing that struck me is that they aren't eating any of the syrup from the feeder. I have no idea why. It's 1:1 syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water) and they should be taking it especially as the weather hasn't been that great. I also noticed that the newspaper I'd put in to divide the two colonies hadn't been nibbled through at all, which did not bode well because where are those bees that were left after I bee-headed Queen Freddie?
I knew the answer, as soon as I opened the other side of the Beehaus - all dead! There wasn't a single bee alive in there and there was a depressing sight on one of the frames. When bees hatch out of their little cells, they nibble through the exterior and then they get themselves out with help from the nurse bees. But obviously, with the workers having died these bees died too because they couldn't get themselves out on their own. So, they literally died straight after they were born :(
So, that colony I've had for a year and built up from a small nuc is no longer. I remember when I first tweeted about my drone laying queen and one of the beekeepers told me that if I didn't act quickly, I'll lose that colony. He wasn't wrong - in two weeks they are all gone. I did shed a few tears.
It's also doubly depressing because I don't think the new colony is going to make it either - there is just too few of them. There aren't enough of them (I don't think - but then I'm no authority on bee behaviour) to forage for pollen, collect nectar, nurse, guard, feed the queen etc. I think my only solution is to buy another nuc and try to unite the colonies (another queen death) or wait for a swarm, by which time the colony will surely be dead.
This Sunday a friend and fellow beekeeper Nicky (who's featured in this blog and lives nearby in Radford Semele) has invited me on a mini Bee Safari between my hive and hers. We'll make a verdict together on my hive and then I can see her new swarm - her old colonies unfortunately didn't make it through the winter.
I'll report back.....