It’s been a pretty hectic start to spring in Perth with four swarms coming our way over the last few weeks, all of which have decided to stay, but which so far have behaved very differently. I think one of them has a real problem:
We collected two large swarms on the 4th and 5th October. Today we did our first full inspection of them, as there has been good activity outside we have wanted to leave them to settle in. The first hive we collected is going great guns. 5 frames full of brood, plenty of honey and very chilled bees :). We didn’t see the queen but did see young large (I’m useless at spotting eggs), but all was happy.
The second swarm had no capped brood, and about 3 drawn frames full of nectar and pollen. As said, I am bad with eggs, but I did see 3 cells in the middle of one frame that I’m guessing were emergency queen cells, or play cups (as they were quite shallow and open). Clearly something strange has happened here! The bees were calm and happy, and there were quite a few workers fanning on the frame with the queen cells (as they did when we captured the swarms), so I am hoping there is a queen somewhere around. There is no doubt that we caught the queen with the swarm (all workers followed into the box). The swarm was large so I thought it was a primary, but I guess there could have been a virgin queen. That said, wouldn’t the presence of queen cells indicate that there was a laying queen there at some point?
We decided the best thing to do with this hive was to leave it for a week or two and recheck. If there is still no brood then we’ll give them a frame with eggs (if I can identify them) from another hive in the hope they’ll sort it out themselves. We have a tiny nuc swarm with a queen that we could combine, but I wouldn’t want to do that unless I was absolutely sure they were queen less, which I am not.
Does this sound like a good plan? I don’t really like smoking them weekly, but I guess we need to get a grip on the situation here. Is the bees fanning in the hive a sign of a queen being present or not? Any advice would be much appreciated.