I arrive back at the apiary 3 weeks after i left each hive with a queen cell ready to hatch within days. The weather has been mixed over the past few weeks. Some days have been sunny and dry with temperatures of over 20ºC, ideal for queens to mate others whilst others have rarely made it into double figures with torrential rain. Not the ideal weather for queens to mate and i hoped not a disaster.
Walking around the corner the bees were flying busily out of the hives, in fact i have never seen so much activity outside the hives with the bees flying in and out with purpose. Of the 6 colonies i could see that 3 had bees returning with pollen. The pollen was a mix of colours yellow, orange, reddish brown and black. I think the black pollen may be coming from the bright red poppies that are bringing colour back into the once golden fields of rape. These colonies should be have laying queens in them.
After going through each colony i discovered that 4 of the 6 had laying queens, i only saw 1 of the 4 queens with eggs and or brood in the other 3. Maybe my eye was not tuned into finding them, or was it because i wanted to get into each hive as quickly as possible, check they were queenright by finding eggs and moving onto the next. One of the colonies, No.5 turned out to be incredible, 9 frames were already laid with sealed brood and eggs. The laying pattern was also the best i have ever seen, nearly every cell is laid evenly except for the ‘W’ pattern where the wires run through the wax.
Ii decided to unit the 2 hives that were not queen right with 2 of the queenright colonies. To join them i placed newspaper with a few slits in it over the bottom brood box and placed the queenless brood box on top.
So overall i have 4 colonies with laying queens. I feel that this has been worth it even after not having as many colonies that i would have liked. Further thoughts have left me wondering if i should have continued to feed all the colonies after they were split? It so happens the 4 that have queens either had a super with stores or a feeder with syrup. I also wonder if i have been to hasty joining the colonies that appeared to be queenless, was this really the case or had the queen not begun laying?