A backyard that once housed honeybees seems and sounds so bleak without them. Every glance at an empty hive sinks the heart and, should a honeybee be sighted in the yard, delight is smothered with sorrow from the absolute knowledge that this is a stranger. From a few houses down or a few miles away, in either case she is not one of ours.

But for now we are again joyful, even welcoming the return of that eternal worry that dwells in the thoughts of the amateur beekeeper. Thanks to a dear friend we were able to obtain three, five-frame nucleus hives late this past Saturday and hived them on Sunday, giving each a jar of syrup and an empty bar in front of the follower.

We checked on them Tuesday afternoon, hoping to find the marked queens we did not spot on Sunday.

Beatrix: We did not find the queen. She has been draining the syrup hard enough that we may need to refill tomorrow but there is no new comb on the empty top bar. Is she storing the syrup? We moved the existing empty bar to go between the last brood comb and first food comb and added no new ones.

Clarissa: Nor did we find this queen. She was bursting with shirty bees when we hived her but now seemed much less populous. Foragers out and about? Surely she would not have swarmed already? The syrup was hardly touched. A wee bit of fresh comb was under construction on the empty bar. We added another empty bar at the food/brood boundary.

Dorcas: We did find the queen moving at a dignified pace across the comb. And many more bees than we recalled. Could they have drifted from Clarissa? The syrup jar was still mostly full but the empty bar had comb under construction in several places along it. Again we added another empty bar at the food/brood boundary.

And thus we are content. Our backyard is whole once more.