A few weeks ago it became clear that I had to watch the Wilde colony for signs of swarming: Carniolans are known for it, and my bees were crowded. Since the weather is supposed to be quite warm by the end of the week, I popped the top (the picture here today) to check, and found no signs of honeybees with plans to run away from home.
For the heck of it, I looked over at Twain, and saw my first drone of the season. Hmmm. Colonies produce drones at about the same time that they think queens ought to be out and about!
So I popped the top, and got a BIG surprise. A capped queen cell on the bottom of the bottom box! (Unfortunately, the camera died right before: I'll get you a shot tomorrow). The last time we took the colony apart, February 28th, there weren't even any queen cups (the first stage), so the girls got right to work just after we went rooting around in there. We had removed an empty bottom box, though, which probably accounts for the strange location. Once again, the bees got busy just where the books said they wouldn't.
This means that tomorrow, before the Twain crew gets a chance, I'll be making my first split, becoming a mother of three (colonies, that is). There is some possibility that I will have FIVE colonies by the end of this year, if Wilde splits too. That's because there's a nuclear colony coming my way, intended for a new "out apiary" site that has not been blogged about yet.
One last note: in prying the Twain boxes apart, I also found that they had built burr comb with drone cells between the boxes (not sure why they did that, since the bee space is supposed to be correct), and several of those drone larvae had living Varroa mites scurrying about on them. Another battle not yet – perhaps not ever – over. The new microscope my husband bought is supposed to take movies, so I'm going to give my first ever horror flick a try tomorrow, and show you that, too!