Queen cells of mystery

August 29, 2009 | By | Comments (0)

Yesterday we went into our Dead-Midge hive to see if by some
chance the bees had managed to replace the queen cell we ripped open 3 weeks

Nope. Dead-Midge (hereafter known as Dramatica because of
that hive’s penchant for drama) is not queenright. There is no queen. Just lots
of drone brood randomly placed all over the frame and multiple eggs cramming
the cells in the crazy way only a laying worker can accomplish.

QueenCell But we also found a mystery: two queen cells (That’s one of
them in the photo at left). And the girls are cuddling up to these oversize
cells like a bunch of maiden aunts hovering around their only brother’s only

We don’t know what could be in those big cells.

We don’t think
it’s possible that there are queens. Bees need fresh eggs or young larvae to
make a queen. And bee development from egg to emergence is very reliable. 16
days for queens, 21 days for workers, and 24 days for drones, give or take a
couple days.

We’ve counted backward through the month of August every way
we can think to count. It’s been 28 days since we split Veronica and gave Midge
frames of brood, larvae and eggs, so by the calendar, the bees shouldn’t have
had any fresh eggs or larvae to work with within the last 3 weeks.

In fact, the last of the brood from Veronica should have
emerged by now. The youngest worker bee should be about 7 days old. Since a
worker bee in summer lives only  38
days, this hive is looking at about one more month to live.  We don’t see how there could be any baby
queens in those two queen cells.

But here’s a weird thing. Sometimes—although very rarely—an egg
from a laying worker will develop parthenogenetically into a female. Anyway, so
says The Hive and the Honey Bee, the beekeeper’s bible.

So who knows. Perhaps we’ve got a biological oddity growing in our
hives. Or perhaps we’ve got a drone that’s been fed royal jelly all his life.
Or perhaps those two cells are empty and the bees are just wishful thinking.

Now we have a decision to make. Split Veronica and try again? Or let Dramatica die?


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