Taking a sneek peak into two of my 6 spring nuc starts off queen cell splits, I was greeted by this: beautiful single eggs in the bottoms of cells. I couldn't find the newly mated and now laying beautifully spring queen. She's still plumping up. It was SO HARD to see the eggs, since they were just laid and don't have any royal jelly surrounding them (yet). But the nurses are working on that.
This nuc was also drawing out 3 new frames beautifully. Can you tell the honey flow is on? They're drawing, filling and capping with fresh spring honey as they go! This is another thing that makes me smile ear to ear.
I had to be sure I was seeing the eggs clearly, so in for a closer look I went. Yes, my eyes cried mercy as they were able to see the eggs but not spot the new queen. The irony. Bees always have the last laugh.
The second nuc I peeked into, which I started with a frame of food and a frame of brood with queen cells just as the other one, greeted me with a glorious new comb packed with capped honey, nectar and a little bit of pollen as the wax bees work en masse.
This is the flip-side of that same frame. They've started in the middle, working down and out (except for a start at the right, which must've been a bee that didn't get the memo that day on the preferred location to draw this frame).
The second nuc was not as calm as the first. A little nervous, not at all defensive, quiet, but ... JITTERY. Waggle dances were going on all over the place. And EGGS, yes, I spotted SINGLE EGGS, and some larvae floating in jelly. So this queen had mated a day or two earlier than the first nuc I peeked into. More success! Out of 6 attempted spring starts in my second round, at least a third are successful. But ... wait a minute, what's that on the right-hand side of the frame, just underneath the honey stores?
Yep, a new supercedure queen cell underway. I didn't have to look inside it to know there was a larvae, since I could see nurses actively working it on all sides, packing it with royal jelly and spinning out the wax.
And yes, another supercedure cell being created on the other end of the frame as well, just underneath the honey stores. Why would the bees be trying to create a new queen when a new one just successfully hatched, oriented, mated and returned already laying? Well, they just know that she is not well mated or somehow else not up to their standards. I didn't see this second new queen, either, and part of me knew it was because my eyes were trying to find her. Learning to spot queens is tricky. You have to NOT LOOK in order to SEE. It takes practice, but your eyes learn the trick. When the mind takes over, though, and is actively talking to you trying to find her it's nigh impossible. But no matter, single eggs in a tight pattern, new comb being drawn out mightly, and two new queen cells. This start will take more time than the other to get up to full speed, but no matter. I wrote down in my notes, "Trust the bees!" They know, and so have started a third round of spring queens without my even trying or being involved. Well done, girls! Hopefully in another month they'll have another new queen to their liking. And I'll just let them. Trust the bees. Boy how they make me smile.
Tom Davidson is the owner and beekeeper at T's Bees.
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