Last month I split out my hives and used on-the-spot queen rearing to raise new queens for three young colonies (read about this process in Part I and Part II). It takes about 23–30 days for a queen to grow from an egg (3 days) to larva (5 1/2 days) to pupa in capped brood (7 1/2–9 days) to “virgin” queen who goes out on mating flights (3–9 days) before starting to lay new eggs. The last time I went in, I separated out capped queen cells into three new colonies of worker bees. Recently, I checked back in to see if the queens had emerged and started laying.
One of the new colonies occupies a long Langstroth hive. The hive is small at this point, the bees covered six frames when I opened the lid. After a brief inspection, I pulled out some capped brood, meaning the queen has been laying for at least 9 days. The large amount of brood indicates that this hive will be booming in a few weeks.
Another hive was installed in our bee shed (see description in this post). This hive was in a similar state as the first: six covered frames and capped brood. This one will be doing well in a short time.
The third split had a huge population, but this colony, also kept in a long Langstroth hive, was the original donor hive for all of the splits. What this means is that the field bees from all the splits left the splits on the first day and went back to the donor hive. This means it had a huge population right away. Unfortunately, though, the queens didn’t take and this hive had empty brood comb. To give them a queen, I pulled brood from a fourth colony, one that has had a queen this whole time and repeated the splitting process to encourage them to raise a new queen. I’ll give this hive a good frame of brood each week until it has a laying queen to help it keep its population up.
We’re also raising hives as part of a research project. These hives are doing extremely well. We got two strong nucleus colonies from a local beekeeper and in just a few weeks they’ve doubled in size as well as drawn out lots of frames. They’ll be ready for a second deep brood chamber and then to be split here in the next few weeks.