I went down there with the plan to do an inspection, swap out some ratty old equipment for new stuff, place a grease patty and hopefully add a honey super.
They'd been a little quiet lately, not much activity visible from outside the hive. A couple thumps on the side would produce a reassuring hum, so I tried not to worry about it too much. On days that I can't get anyone to watch Ava, all I can do is thump 'em!
We've had so much rain this spring. Maybe 10 decent days out of the past 2 months or so. They say not to work your bees after a thunderstorm because they'll be mean, but reflecting on that now, I wish I'd taken my chances. The last inspection I got to do was 6 weeks ago. Far too long to leave them alone.
I knew that they had tons of honey left over from winter, so I didn't worry about feeding them through those long weeks when they weren't able to fly. They missed the dandelions, the apple and peach blossoms, half of the blackberry blossoms and sadly all of the black locust and most other tree flowerings. It finally quit raining long enough for them to hit the nearby tulip poplars. Most of the pollen I found inside looked to be tulip poplar.
|Lots of yellow pollen, lots of stored nectar. Old supercedure cell on the left center.|
I expected there to be a very poor brood build up.
However, I did not expect there to be NO QUEEN. No sign of her anywhere! No tiny eggs, no capped or open larvae. Nothing! No evidence of laying workers either though...
|Lots of empty cells. No brood!|
So, I looked everything over very well. I don't believe there is any scary disease in the hive. I saw just a couple of ants on the lid, no hive beetles, one propolis entombed wax moth... The workers looked pretty good. No K-wing to indicate a heavy mite load, although I'll do a count now too. Being that there is no brood, that should mess up the life cycle of the mites anyway.
She's just gone. I did find a couple empty supercedure cells and two swarm cells that had been there awhile. They superceded last year anyway, but I removed those. These were in the other deep and they were very old (and empty.)
The bottom deep was completely empty and I took advantage of that to remove it and get rid of some very messy and wild comb. The upper deep was packed full of pollen and nectar, the two end frames being completely full of last year's honey and all other frames having varying amounts of old honey all contained in the back third of the frame. When I do get a queen in there, they'll be ready for her.
|Typical of all 10 frames, lots of stored food, no evidence of the queen.|
Since there aren't any laying workers, I am going to give them a couple days and inspect again, just in case they have a virgin queen and she hasn't gotten started yet. If still queenless, I will have to call a lady from my bee association and see if I can buy a queen from her pronto.
Between the rain, and now this, it isn't looking like I'll get to harvest any honey this year. :( I really need a second hive to work with. If I could borrow some brood, I could have them back up and running very soon.