Yesterday, five weeks to the day since she guided us in splitting our surviving colony, Beatrix, Dr. Meghan Milbrath returned at our worried request to inspect the two resulting colonies.
We had obeyed her charge to not disturb the queenless bees for at least three weeks and indeed waited until four weeks had elapsed to inspect, whereupon we saw a hive still full of bees but neither brood nor queen nor even queen cell. How long could this go on before Beatrix would be infested with laying workers?
With the season’s nucs coming ready, Dr. Milbrath took advantage of her house call to deliver the one we had ordered. So we began by installing it into the long-empty Dorcas. The white-marked queen is in the picture at left. While beekeepers should value in their bees temperament, productivity, and other good practical qualities over the vanity of cosmetic appearance, damn, she looks cool or wicked or whatever is the current adjective of admiration among the young. Purest black with racing stripes. Of course, she is also showing a lovely laying pattern.
Next we inspected Clarissa, who had received the queen in the split, and found that comb construction and egg laying had continued steadily. The amount of sealed brood promises a population jump in a few weeks. Not surprising but good to see.
Finally with trepidation we came to Beatrix, which we had rendered queenless. Although the queen eluded us all her presence was indicated by several frames of capped brood that were not present a week ago. We both remembered those frames quite clearly. A queen has been hard at work. Dr. Milbrath even pointed out the cell from which she had likely emerged. It was smaller than we would have expected and under a carpet of bees. Easy for old eyes squinting after brood to miss.
In conclusion, we once again have the satisfaction of a full beeyard. Our split was successful. We can return to our regularly scheduled worries of varroa, weather, and the rest. For all the reassurances we request from our guardian angel Dr. Milbrath, we are actually feeling like real beekeepers.