I was going to blog about having brought the apidea back from Mother’s house into the garden; but first thing this morning we found the bees weren’t too happy in there and had decided to take matters into their own
hands wings. So there’s more to write about now!
The apidea is a micro-hive typically used during queen-rearing. It’s just like a normal hive, with room for some removeable combs, space for some food, and adjustable entrance. We’d populated it a couple of weeks ago with a friend’s queen that had been injured and was thought to be on her last legs. Put in the apidea with some young worker bees from one of our garden hives, we thought we’d give her a chance and see if she would survive. Since some of the workers would simply leave the apidea and return to their “home” hive if left in the garden, the apidea was taken the few miles to mother’s house where the bees would not know where they were, and would have only the apidea to return to.
Last Monday, when the workers had had long enough to permanently forget their original home, it was time to bring the apidea back and see how they were getting on. Sealed up for the short journey home, they sounded lively and not a little cross, and we gave them a day or two to settle in the garden before disturbing them. On inspection there was no evidence of the queen at all; she must have perished and been ejected from the apidea by the workers. The next plan, then, was to find some queen cells from another hive and implant them to the apidea, letting the workers raise a brand new queen for themselves. But in the interim, with only a tiny amount of comb in the micro-sized hive, they needed some additional food. We put in some candy yesterday and were surprised and very pleased to find the queen had not perished, but was indeed fighting fit and laying eggs.
Which brings us to this morning’s sight – the contents of the apidea all over the front of the little hive, clearly trying to swarm; but with the queen’s wings clipped she wasn’t going anywhere and the workers weren’t going to leave without her. She’s clearly such a strong layer that she’s used up all the space in the comb with eggs and needs a larger home. So later today the tiny colony will be moved into a “nuc” box (still smaller than a normal hive, but with 5 full-sized brood frames). Her three apidea combs will be transplanted too and, with her hopefully now faithful workers, she should be able to build up a decent colony. We’ll let you know how she gets on.