Friday, May 4, 2012

She's not dynamite with a laser beam ...

... but my colony seems to like her well enough.  Yes, I'm using lyrics of a Queen song to refer to my queen bee Catherine the (not so) Great.  Yesterday we had a break in the cold and rainy weather, so I was able to get out to my hive and inspect for brood again.

The good news is that a few nurse bees were actively tending to larva and there was some capped brood present.

The bad news is that my colony still remains small, and my queen's laying pattern looks a lot like this Jackson Pollock painting.

That is to say, my queen is practicing interpretative laying.  Rather than a neat pattern of brood cells evenly laid across a frame, there are a few cells on the front, a few cells on the back, a few cells in the middle, and seemingly for good measure, a cell or two waaaaaay far away from any of the other cells.  As far as I can tell, the colony is not building supersedure queen cells, but I'm beginning to worry that Catherine the Great may be a drone laying queen.  In simple terms, a drone laying queen is one that due to the bad weather (or other factors) was unable to take the normal "mating flights" in which she gathers drone sperm to fertilize her eggs (and thus produce female worker bees).

I hope I'm wrong though.  I've read where new queens in new hives can sometimes be very random in their laying pattern (or lay drones only) for the first month or so.  The capped brood was in its early stage, and no tell tale "puffiness" of a drone cell was present yet. Since our forecast calls for more storms over the weekend, it will be several days before I can get out to check the frames again.  Perhaps Mother Nature will be nice and only give us a very brief shower.  While a drone laying queen may be a potential obstacle, to their credit, the colony is drawing out some really nice wax comb.

One final item of interest from my inspection is that the sugar-water feeder that I moved into the hive a few days ago was EMPTY.  I'm talking picked-up-their-plate-and-licked-it-clean empty.  Apparently an inside feeder is the way to go.  Perhaps this will encourage the girls to be more active.  Assuredly, I noticed several worker bees returning with lots of pollen on their legs!

Two bees "dancing" to communicate the location of a good pollen source.
Just hanging out in the morning sun.
Worker bees returning with two types of pollen.
First, the center bee returns with a lighter colored pollen.
Next, another bee returns with darker pollen.

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