22 Days to Swarming? Wow! That doesn’t seem good…

I hived a good sized package of bees on Friday May 20th in a Gold Star Top Bar Hive here in the Gold Star Apiary…

Yesterday, June 11th I did an inspection. This makes the hive 22 days old.

While I was pleased to see several bars of capped honey – which is a little surprising in a three week old hive, I was surprised as well that I found several torn open queen cells – on the edges of the comb. This edge of comb placement would indicate that they were “swarm” cells, not “supercedure” cells, and there was very little brood in the comb, another indication of a “queen replacement event” – since there is a “break” in the brood cycle when a colony swarms or supercedes their queen.

But 22 days seems very early for a colony to swarm, and since it’s difficult to say whether the population of the hive has dropped – we are mulling over whether they might have swarmed despite our disbelief, or superceded with a cell built closer to the edge than one would expect.

The other nagging concern that this brings up is the concern about just what are we doing to bees by selling packages and shipping them from hot southern climates to colder places such as New England? The bees in the package we hived came from Georgia – and had been foraging for months in that climate. Not much information is available about the effects of the shock of being shipped and having to start over again in an area where temperatures and forage are just getting started in May. We have heard a lot of stories of queen failures this season, so it is worrisome.

But at any rate – they’re building wax and filling it with stores and we’ll look again in a week or so and see whether we are seeing the laying pattern of a new and healthy queen, or whether some catastrophe has occurred and they are now queenless altogether!

That will bring up new and different stuff to talk about!

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