Bee inspection day today. Lovely and sunny and warm and only the lightest of breeze, so ideal. Both hives were kitted out with queen excluder and a single super. Loads of honey in the supers (almost full) and a good amount in the brood chamber too.
It was clear that the original hive (which I’d removed the queen from) was the stronger of the two, and though I couldn’t find a new queen or any grubs (but a worrying number of drones) it could just be that it is late in the year and after a spell of bad weather the queen (if indeed there is one) is simply not laying just now.
At the new hive, into which I moved queen AGM2 (who has been very productive all summer) back in late August, I also could not find either queen or grub or any larvae. And there certainly were a lot of drones. Again, it could well be that the queen has simply stopped laying eggs for now – perhaps for the winter?
I’ve been noticing over the past few days two or three workers grab hold of a drone and push and push it out of the hive, often falling with the drone to the ground. This is I think the annual eviction of the drones, who have now outlived their usefulness. They must have to do this again and again until the drones give up and go elsewhere – or die.
I couldn’t afford to keep searching for the queens, as the afternoon warmth would soon fade and I would chill the bees and cause losses. Whatever the situation now, the only thing I can do is keep them safe and warm, and ensure there is enough food to keep whatever I have alive through to the spring, and then we’ll see where we are.
Next year, with me at home and – hopefully – two new nucs from Colonsay, and at least reasonable weather, we should at last see some progress. If not: I would then really have to accept that the conditions here are not good enough for honey bees. But for now I’ve got to give it my best shot!