Worst outcome but there is a silver lining

At the end of my last post I said that the worst possible outcome would be if the colony on the left of the Beehaus didn't take to their new buckfast queen and if the colony on the right swarmed with a virgin queen. Well, that did happen. But the silver lining is that the swarm was collected so now I have four colonies. But any prospect of honey is dwindling as the days of summer pass by.

I was on a work trip in Boston this week and on Wednesday morning I get the above text from my neighbour two doors down. My heart just sank. But between my husband and Madeleine they got a local swarm collector Steven Sidaway who climbed the fence, boxed up the bees and put them in my garden. What a fantastic guy - he put them in a special nuc box and placed five frames of foundation inside.

The swarm in nuc box on top of the national hive

I've left the swarm for the time being while I think of what to do (some of these thoughts below).

At noon today I decided to check how the buckfast queen was getting on and whether the bees had accepted her.

No bees with pollen were coming into the hive

I sat looking at the entrance for awhile. If she was laying, the bees would be coming into the hive with heavy pollen sacs because pollen is protein for baby bees. So, it was a bad sign already as there was no pollen coming into the hive, or very little.

Queen cage at the top

I opened up the roof and you can see where the queen cage was placed in the hive. They would have eaten through the fondant plug in two days and really the new queen should have been roaming around the hive by now laying eggs.

I went through the hive three times and I spotted no queen and no eggs. A curious thing - if they killed her, where do they dispose of her body? I guess they just chuck it out the hive. I'm gutted because I would love to have found a happy bee family and also it's a waste of £40 for the queen purchase :(

Anyway, so now I have four colonies and need advice from beeks as to what to do:

  1. The right side of the Beehaus, which swarmed, there is one queen cell that I've left in there.
  2. The left side of the Beehaus with no buckfast queen 
  3. The bees in the national hive, which was a tiny cast in April (the 'tree bees') and is building up but only over about 7 or 8 frames. The queen is laying well although never actually spotted her
  4. The swarm in the nuc with a virgin queen
Some thoughts on what I was thinking of doing:
  • Unite both sides of the Beehaus to make one colony and have the entrance on the left. Try requeen again but perhaps not a buckfast this time. 
  • Having done the above then slowly move the swarm in the nuc box over to the right side of the Beehaus over a few days and get them in there. That is the hive they swarmed from but if I do it a week after they swarmed and there are no other bees in there, perhaps they'd be ok.
  • Or, instead of putting them into the Beehaus I unite them with the colony in the national hive.  But this will be tricky because really you only want one queen but the queen in the national is unmarked (I've actually never seen her) and the one in the nuc is a virgin so very slimmed down. I guess if this is the best option (for the bees and to possibly maximise honey production) I'll need to find the queen in the national hive and dispose of her before uniting. It will take some looking but perhaps that is the best route. 
I really need some advice with this so please let me know your thoughts. What would you do in my position?


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