I have been negligent in updating about the bees. Which is not a good thing, considering this blog is supposed to be my on-line bee journal! Last I posted, we'd discovered one of our hives didn't have a queen. We went back in a week later, and still didn't see any eggs. Nor did we see any queen cells. My mentor suggested waiting another week to combine the Nuc back into the hive, because a) the weather hadn't been good so there might have been a queen but she couldn't take her mating flight, and b) the reason they weren't making queen cells was because there WAS a queen (see reason a!).
So, we put another frame of eggs in just to be safe, giving them another opportunity to raise a queen if they needed one. Then we closed everything up and decided to wait another week.
This past Monday, we checked the hives again. The Nuc had lots of eggs and still had room to grow, so we didn't have to worry about doing anything there. They haven't been taking a lot of the sugar water, either. Our original hive was going gangbusters... lots of activity and eggs and larvae.
And, in the 'queenless' hive... I knew something was different as soon as we opened it up. Instead of the typical roar we'd been hearing, we heard the peaceful buzz of bees who didn't care we were there (this has ALWAYS been our docile hive, except for the past month!) And sure enough, we had a whole frame of eggs! No larvae, so the queen had just started laying. We are optimistic that it was a queen and not a laying worker for three reasons: 1) the buzzing. In most queen-right hives, especially this one, the bees just go about their business... unless there is no queen, and then the work themselves into a tizzy when you open up the hive. 2) There was only a single egg in every cell, and 3) the pattern was perfect, meaning they weren't laid helter-skelter. Laying workers are notorious for popping multiple eggs in each cell, and bouncing around the frame. Needless to say, I was greatly relieved!
We will go back in next week to confirm that they aren't drone cells (ie, laying worker) and also because the Inspector will be here. Assuming he doesn't find anything out of the ordinary, we will be able to sell our Nuc to a new beekeeper in the Guild and get them started up. We were hoping to be able to make a second Nuc from the other hive, but after a month of no eggs, the numbers are really down and it's just not strong enough at this point to make another Nuc. But after a year of costing us money, it'll be nice to recoup a very small portion of our expenses!
This morning I was able to attend a workshop where we made swarm buckets and also got some pieces to make a bee vac using a Nuc box body. I am hoping they will come in very handy (not that we've gotten any swarm calls this year... but I'm into beekeeping for the long haul!)