local-honey-bee-suppliesRJ Honey Farm

Bees swarm? Patience!

Had a fellow call me and wanted to know if I wanted to buy four queens. Here's the story.

His hives had swarmed. Upon inspecting them he could find no new queen. No eggs or open brood. Only capped brood. The bees were filling the brood nest with honey. Conclusion: they were queenless. After a week he looked again. There didn't seem to be any change. Same conclusion.

After a few days he found someone locally who had bred queens. He paid some good coin and went to install the queens in the hives. Uh, oh. There were eggs in there. This must mean there was a queen in there. Now he had $200 worth of queens and no where to use them. And neither did we. Sorry.

I smiled when I got off the phone. Richard and I did the same thing in the past. Someone told us you need to learn bee math.

Say the bees are in swarm mode. They make queen cells. About day 10 the queen gets capped off. There's variability here but for the sake of this illustration the bees swarm. It is going to be another 6 days until queens hatch out. After they have their cat fights and one is left it is going to be 7 days before she leaves on her mating flight. When she returns it will be another 7 days till she really ramps up and starts laying well.

Here's the math: 6+7+7=20

It could take about three weeks or better until you see that the hive is queen right.

That takes a lot of patience.