Monday, 14 May 2012

Royal Jelly

Monday 14th May 2012
Sunrise (??!) over the new veg patch.

Royal Jelly
We may have made a mistake today. It was time to open up the bees and inspect what was going on. Good news was that they have started to store honey in the super, so we can stop feeding them sugar solution. More good news. We managed to see the queen, easily picked out due to her much larger size and longer body. A bit like trying to pick out a rare gull or goose in among the throng of others. (Birders will get this!)
We observed as much as we could, honey, pollen, capped brood, developing brood. Then, a queen cell! Just the one. We weren't expecting this and destroyed it to deter swarming. This is what we had been taught, but on further reading afterwards, this may have been a mistake.
We were surpised that the cell was full of white liquid - royal jelly. This means that the bees had plans for this to become a queen, and that it's hatching was fairly imminent. This was not what we needed on our first proper inspection. We lack the experience to know what to do about it and don't want to learn by making very expensive mistakes.

Further reading suggested that this may well have been a supercedure cell, where the bees are trying to replace their queen. We do not quite understand this and will read up and ask around as much as possible. 
In the meantime, we are praying that the bees do not swarm in the next couple of days. 
Comments most welcome from anybody who knows what we should do.

Our immediate plan is to inspect again soon to see if there are any more queen cells and to make the brood chamber bigger so the bees are not too crowded.

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