Ditching The Drone Pupae And Local Swarms Abound

Ditching The Drones And Swarms!

The weather has been strange this year with extremely warm weather followed by cold and a week plus of rain.  Several local beekeeping friends have seen early swarms in the last couple of days and/or capped queen cells in the hive.  Many people are already making splits of their hives.  If you’re local (I’m in MA) and haven’t checked your hive in a week or more you might want to take a look inside and see what’s happening.  It only takes eight days to get a capped queen cell and if you are worried about swarms it is a good idea to check your strong hives once a week for the next month or so.

This is a queen swarm cell with royal jelly and larvae in it. This picture was taken last week from a friend's hive. Photo by Nathaniel Brown.

Crocus has a different problem. They built up very quickly during the warm weather, with little stores.  Most of their food was going to raise new bees. The return to the cold left them caught without enough supplies in the pantry.  The girls began uncapping and removing drone larvae and pupae and killing live drones. (They are also very cranky and have stung me twice now – ouch!)  Even though they were bringing in pollen and nectar, it wasn’t enough for everyone.  The cold weather caught the girls off guard and the poor drones were evicted.  I guess if you’re only good for one thing, it’s easy to get fired!

I tried feeding them a quart of syrup to help them out a little, but the hive was reluctant to take it with nectar still available.  The queen has reduced her egg laying and seems to be self-regulating, so I’m letting nature take its course.  Here are a few of the drone pupae I found outside the hive last week.


The photos below are of a drone that had been sitting outside for day or two in the rain (hence the yellow tinge.)

Further inspection on 5-6-12 revealed Crocus had in fact deconstructed ALL of the drones cells from the previous inspection.  There is hardly any pollen in the hive and only one frame of eggs (compared to the 10 plus frames I was seeing a few weeks ago).  The entire hive is filled with bees but has only one frame of capped honey and one frame of nectar (which is more than they had the week before).  There are a few live drones still in the hive but most have been eliminated.  We are going on two weeks of rain now with a day or two of sun in between.  There are a lot of dead bees outside all the hives.  I’m hoping the storms have passed at last so the bees can get out and get the food they desperately need.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

  1. Crocus Hive Check 4-13-12
  2. Three New Packages of Bees And Crocus Hive
  3. First Honey Super Of The Year Added To Crocus Hive 4-16-12
  4. Bee Package Installation – Don’t Forget The Cork!
  5. Crocus Hive Inspection 4-25-12 – The Uncapping Of The Drones

This post was shared on the Barn Hop.

Author: Anita Deeley

Anita Deeley is a biologist and former state bee inspector who maintains 100 honey bee hives. She is the beekeeper, writer, owner and creator of BeverlyBees.com. When she is not spending time with her girls (the bees), she enjoys being a wife to her beekeeping cohort, Brian and mother to 3 little boys (the beekeepers in training). Read more about Anita here >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Connect with Anita on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Facebook here.

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