It seems likely that our thriving colony (hive 1) has a young Queen. Chatting with Bob Spruce earlier in the week he said it is often young Queens that land in a hive and then swarm out again almost immediately. We also found 2 eggs in one cell yesterday, which, according to our experienced bee-keeper, could also suggest immaturity.
For some reason the Queen Excluder that came with the hive doesn’t fit so we have had to manage without for the moment. This means the Queen could have been anywhere in the hive – brood box or super – and we didn’t manage to find her. What we did find, however, were eggs, larvae, sealed brood, NO QUEEN CUPS, nectar, pollen and capped honey. There were different coloured pollens on the frames, ranging from orange to almost black (beans?), which bodes well for the bees ‘5-a-day’.
So it looks as if the bees have sorted themselves out and have got down to raising more bees and creating honey stores, rather than trying to supercede our very handsome Queen.
Hive 2 in contrast had done very little in the way of drawing out comb or creating food stores and there was little evidence of eggs. We found one in a Queen cup that didn’t appear to be at the bottom, so it is possible that a worker has been laying (her abdomen is shorter and doesn’t reach as far). Also no evidence of drones, so is it a Queenless hive, or has she just not got going yet?
To see a slide show of our afternoon visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUtT1FEAB9o