Expansion has been full-on this spring and four stings later, we now have 11 hives at the Ranch. Progress inside the hives has been nothing short of dynamic. Our aggressive little buddies have been combing out the frames and the queens are laying prolifically. All thanks to the Bee Whisperer for his careful selection of queens that are mite resistant and, good honey producers (Italian cross Californian bloodlines).
New hive colour scheme… assembly in process!
Worth was executioner of the queen in the original hive when we noticed a drop in egg production and the appearance of queen cells. Queens can last up to two years but most commercial beekeepers replace the queen yearly. Observing the fatigued queen and the response of the hive was a good opportunity to further understand the life-cycle of bees and the role of the queen. Most importantly, we learned that a new queen should never be released directly into the hive. Because this queen is unfamiliar to the workers, they will cluster around her to form a tight ball and make it so hot that she will suffocate. Observe the procedure below…
In about three days the workers will eat away at the candy that blocks the entrance to free the new queen. By this time, she will have released strong pheromones to enslave her new subjects (oh la la).
Replacing our first New Zealand queen was admittedly disconcerting… we will be forever grateful for her tolerance of our initial inexperience and awkward handling of the hive and, for making it through the harsh Canadian winter to produce a strong flush for spring.