Inspection after queen introduction

It’s been 13 days since I installed the new queen. I took a peek at the cage three days after the install and the queen was still there; three days later it was gone, so it could be up in the hive doing its thing for a maximum of nine days.

Queen cage six days after installation Only some curious workers remain, probably attracted by the pheromones of the now-departed queen.

Future worker-bee larvae are capped about nine days after the eggs are laid (drone cells are capped at day 10).  If we look inside today, we should see some eggs and larvae, but probably not many capped cells, and no capped cells on the drone frame.

One of the brood frames. Plenty of larvae here.

A close-up of the brood frame; most of the larvae are capped.

The drone frame. Plenty of capped brood here, too; almost 1,000 larvae, from as many eggs as a good queen can lay in a day.

Looks like I wasted my money buying a new queen – there was already one at work in the hive.  Perhaps I should have taken one last look in the hive before installing the queen.  If I had found eggs, I could have transferred a couple of frames and the purchased queen to a “nuc box” (short for nucleus box; it’s pronounced “nuke box”), a small box often used to establish a new hive.  I even have one of those boxes lying around, made from scrap lumber on a rainy day.

My nuc box (on right).

In case you are wondering, I never did find the queen in this hive.  Once I start manipulating the brood box, the bees come boiling out, mostly looking for a place to sting (my office staff seems to enjoy counting sting marks on my arms).  It’s a bit of a challenge to concentrate when your head is surrounded by a cloud of angry bees.  Applying smoke to a hive is an ancient technique to subdue bees, but it has minimal effect on this hive once I start pulling out the brood frames.  I will leave that adventure to another day, but my guess is that the queen we find will not have a green dot.

Hive just after inspection.

The hive 10 minutes after the inspection, still in a defensive posture.

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