It seems that we have left an August story unfinished. Perhaps, because the ending is sad it was particularly easy to avoid writing and let ourselves be carried along by the flow of quotidian demands until unusual events quickened the current and turned it to white water at year’s end, leaving August far behind. By the time we successfully navigated the metaphor to arrive in calmer waters again, we had quite forgotten that we had left our readers with a bit of a cliffhanger. In brief, the Angharad Experiment failed and Dorcas died. With no particular timeline (can not be bothered to check notes) the ordered events, including a recap, are:

  • Dorcas had a queen in June. We even saw her!
  • We could not find her in August but did find three queen cells on two frames.
  • We made a nuc, wee Angharad, including the frame with two cells and left the other in Dorcas. Splitting just like real beekeepers!
  • The queen cell in Dorcas opened at bottom indicating that a queen emerged but we never found any new brood in Dorcas.
  • The queen cells in Angharad remained unchanged. We emptied Angharad by putting all comb back into Dorcas.
  • One queen cell ripped open from the side indicated a queen killing competition. The other queen cell was unchanged and the only capped brood seen were drones.
  • Time goes by and with only drone comb seen, we feared laying workers so we dumped, brushed, and blew bees off each comb in Dorcas and installed it in Clarissa. Then we moved the Dorcas hive far away.

And so we entered the winter with only two hives, Beatrix and Clarissa, both of which have survived into mid-May. We have removed their winter insulation in spite of the occasional snow flurry.

Beatrix is booming as always and with a few queen cells under construction. She will surely swarm if we do not split her but we were ill prepared to do so during the inspection and now weather has turned cold again.

Clarissa is confusing. The follower board position reminds us that she had expanded nearly as much as Beatrix. But only the first half of the hive seems to hold a busy colony. The latter half is empty moldy comb, which we are assured the bees will clean up.

Dorcas is yet empty but in position and open for occupancy. She does hold one frame of comb among the empty bars and we put a drop or two of lemony-smelling supplement into her entrance. We have since seen bees take a serious, continued interest in her. If we can not find occasion to actively split Beatrix her cast may migrate to Dorcas on their own.

Frankie is likewise empty and waiting. She has been spontaneously occupied before. It would be much to expect that lightning again even as we hope it will strike Dorcas.

We have also inherited the hive stand we made for our now-moved-away niece. It needed a little attention and is now next to Frankie, ready to receive any nucs we may be able to make this season. It is unlike us to be so optimistic but better to be ready in case of good luck than scrambling to repair and deploy equipment.