The overwintered hive didn’t start out strong, but boy that queen is an egg-laying miracle! I still have them in one-story, but they’re almost ready to expanded spaces.
The nuc we installed with the laying queen is also very strong! We watched worker after worker fly in with pollen baskets filled! The bees are working hard. We didn’t see the queen today, however we did see freshly laid eggs in addition to brood of all ages.
The second nuc, the weaker one that we could not confirm a queen on Tuesday, is still not showing signs of a laying queen. There is definitely not any eggs or brood. Fortunately, I sent a message to our nuc supplier yesterday around 4:00 and this morning at 7:50 the post office informed me there was a queen bee waiting for me on Rodd St.! That’s quick service.
We did install a new queen, as shown in the photograph. She’s inside a cage currently as she is not bonded with this new group of workers. The technique is to add the cage to the hive where the existing workers can get used to her smells. Meanwhile, they work to chew on the candy plug in her queen cage. By the time the candy plug opens, they are accepting of her and welcome her to rule! I’ll verify early next week she makes it out of the hive and will confirm egglaying too.
Additionally, we set up all three hives with a quart jar of sugar solution. Early on, it’s beneficial to feed the bees to help them get a jump start. We are choosing to feed our overwintered hive as well, because it was so small. I make the sugar solution using a 5-pound bag of sugar and 1 gallon of water. This makes enough to fill 5-quart jars with solution. I also use a commercially prepared honey bee health product that smells of lemongrass and spearmint. Typically, I like to feed the hives until they fill one story and are ready for a second.