Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Her Highness arrives!

July 7 was the day for the queen to arrive via UPS overnight delivery from Glenn Apiaries. In the morning I arose and moved the new nuc to its permanent location about 100 feet away from the mother colony. The day proved to be cold, dim, and moist, rather like being smothered by a grounded cloud. The queen box was put into the truck and shipped out about 8 in the morning. Had I known it would take until after 5 pm I would have picked it up at the distribution point myself.

Instead, I watched the old foragers jump ship and fly home. At the alarming rate of about one every 15 seconds, I wondered if there would be anybody left when I put the queen in. There were a couple frames of about to emerge brood, but even they need to have some warmth to be assured of getting out!  So one every 15 seconds is 4  per minute, 240 per hour…I figured about a pound a day at that rate so nothing to worry about, but things were going to look different than last night.

When UPS arrived I noticed the box was cold. They drive with the doors open no matter the temperature, it seems. I will definitely pick up the next shipment myself! Still, the old bees had left and the rest had established where the activity would be centered so it would be easy to place the new girl.
The queen and her attendants were alive and well in a flat-top, three-hole, Benton-style introduction cage. I prefer the concave top Benton, so I decided to use a push in cage instead. I put the queen on a business card and covered her with the cage, tacked it on with blue tape and headed out to the grafting yard.
I placed the cage over the center of where the bees would cluster, slipped out the card, pushed in the cage and that was that. When placing an introduction cage on about-to-emerge brood it’s ok to have some young bees emerge directly into the queen cage, but not too many, because it can get crowded fast! Emerging brood will be able to “cover” twice the area they emerged from. Bees were emerging while I found a place that was mostly empty, yet still in the middle.

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