Late Autumn here on the top of the divide in Southern NSW.
Having my “founding member flow hive” delivered in March I was champing at the bit to find some bees before winter. I joined the local bee keepers club, and they organised to remove all the bees from a chimney that was to be demolished, and offered the bees to me after fully explaining the risk of not finding the queen, and not knowing the health of the hive.
The hive was enormous, and went down beyond our reach below the roof line. Having found no problems with disease, I took a lot of boxes of comb away, and a lot of bees that we sucked up using a vacuum system. Once home, I cut the brood that I could id and attached it to some frames. I included as much comb with capped honey, and pollen, as was still intact, which was in retrospect very little, then shook the bees in.
No sign of the queen!
That was in early April.
So the hive has been active since then, with bees coming and going bringing back honey, and more recently pollen.
I made some horrendous rookie errors, especially with all the wax and open honey comb lying around, and a weakened hive. Once I realized the hazard and sealed the comb in airtight boxes we (the bees and I) had a semblance of control of the massive robbing that seemed to be occurring. I also closed up the entrance to be very small to give the guards a chance of controlling who came in.
I have since read that smoke can encourage robbing for the same reasons as it stops the bees attacking the keeper.
Also if there are eggs younger than three days old and no Queen, there is the opportunity for the bees to make a new queen.
Mid April and they are still alive collecting Honey and Pollen.
So… questions. I haven’t found a queen as yet, but have found an open used queen cell. I don,t think I should open the hive anymore to search for her as we have had a frost in the valley country last week, and enclose the last photos I took.
- How long can a hive live without a Queen. From reading, a worker can last between 5 to 12 weeks depending on work load and weather, So if the brood hatched that we transferred to the new hive after 21 days, plus the 12 weeks they live for, that means that the workers should be all gone 15 weeks after the transfer. Does that sound right?
- I have given them access to white sugar. They haven’t touched it as yet (in the roof). Does that mean they don’t need it yet, or that they don’t have the energy to process it.
- There are some of the original transferred brood that have eaten out of the entrance and died at the exit. Once again I have read that this indicates starvation, but when: before pupating, or immediately at hatching? Could that be that the were on the outer frames and just didn’t have the support after hatching.
- Does the change in the collecting to pollen indicate a queen may be present (to feed brood)?
I have really appreciated the forum as a way to learn more about the incredible insects. Thanks