April 23, 2009

Day 13: Comb Repaired and Then Some!

Larvae and Capped Brood

This is the comb the queen cage was supposed to hang from. The right side of it was cut off during the honey harvest, which made it the perfect bar for attaching the cage. We accidentally direct-released the queen, so the girls were able to get right to work in reparation. The new comb is white and the old is yellow but they match up seamlessly!

Another upside to our mistake is that direct-releasing the Queen enabled her to begin laying immediately. These brood cells were probably capped 3-4 days ago, so new bees may emerge as soon as the first of May!

The brood on the comb shown below is much younger, none capped. The girls that are growing here are less than 8 days old and probably won't emerge until May 5 or 6.

Second comb, brand new this year, has a nice tight laying pattern on both sides.
Close-up of Larvae

Lesson Learned: 80° is too warm to inspect comb that is only a few days old.

The plan had been to inspect each and every comb, and to photograph both sides. But when we pulled out the first comb — and it was completely wobbly and fragile — the plan went out the door. We skipped past bars 8, 7 and 6. We knew these were primarily honey that we'd given them (but forgot that we wanted to see how much they'd eaten) and instead moved on to the 5th bar. I can't remember what we found on the 4th bar, but I know we didn't pull it out either (or there'd be photographs). The 3rd bar was the Queen Includer and, a little panicked by the heat, we moved it without photographing it or first checking for brood. Whoops. Turns out there is capped brood there!

We shall see what ramifications splitting the brood nest has on the colony. For all we know, there's brood on all those combs we skipped past, and the nest isn't really split. The girls have been maintaining the hive at about 90°F, so the larvae should be fine. But we'll pull that comb for sure, during our second inspection (in another 10 days or so), just to confirm. With any luck, we'll see new bees emerging.


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