I may have mentioned in the verbose chronicle that was my previous posting that I performed a walk-away split on one of my topbar hives. For those still learning this involved removing 3 combs of young brood (including eggs) and shaking in the same amount of combs of bees (to account for returning foragers). This is referred to as a walk-away split as there were no queen cells pre-split. The bees in the now queenless nuc hive go into emergency mode and try to raise a queen as soon as possible. For this, they use the young brood that is 3-4 days old. This cuts their queen production time down to 12 days for emergence.
Below is a picture taken four days post split. This is about a day prior to capping of the queen cells (4-day larva + 4 days = 8 days). You can clearly see 6 emergency cells on the comb. The close up shows the larva in the cell helpfully pointed out by a bee antennae.
Although we handle most brood in a fairly casual manner as beekeepers it is best to take extra care with queen cells. Even once capped queen cells can be easily damaged by inversion or chilling until after the prepupal stages. ie leave them alone until day 13 (9 days after a walk-away split). The new queen then emerges on day 16 (12 days after a walk away split). Don’t be in too much hurry to check on her though. New queens are flighty and can fly out of the hive and will not easily find their way back.
Why the split? Well, I am glad you asked that question as it is essential for the continuity of this post. It also shows a healthy curiosity on your part so well done you!
As you may remember from a previous post I have been asked to run some beekeeping courses. I am starting off with a one-day course for beginners and converters but have plans for full weekend residential courses, and hive building weekends. I have the first date sorted and the content already organised thanks to all the foundation work I had from all the other presentations and training sessions I have hosted. In fact, I ready to go except for one thing I don’t have a hive at the site. This new queen is destined to take on that task. Since she is the daughter of Wonderwoman I needed another female comic hero. I wanted to go with Jean Grey (or X-Men fame) my wife vetoed, and said simply….
Yes, She-Ra the alter-ego of Princess Adora of Eternia, who as a baby was taken to Etheria and ultimately charged with battling the forces of evil. Transformed thanks to her magic sword and with the aid of her winged unicorn she fights for justice. The parallels are obvious and I really don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.
Anyhow, she is going to need a
kingdom hive. Luckily, I found some old scaffold boards a while back. They are mostly rotten, worm-eaten, and covered in splits and cracks, sounds perfect right! For some reason, I feel the need to try and make things from wood others wouldn’t even burn.
The hive body has now been glued and sanded (on the outiside and ends) and has had many coats of oil and shellac. The entire hive will also be sealed with an oil and wax finish. The legs and roof frame have had to be made with new wood (booooo hisss) but I have used a wood stain/preserver to get to that lived in colour.
Onwards and upwards… wish me luck for the 13th August.