And Then the Bottom Fell Out

June 21, 2018 – From my last hive update (dated May 9) until June 21st, I had been checking my hive weekly and had even added a second brood box (a hive box full of frames to double the size of the overall hive) due to how successful they were being.

On June 11th I had my teaching team over for our first summer work day, and they were interested in seeing what was inside the hive. I showed them the frames and was even able to find the queen.

Little did I know, this was the last time I’d see my first queen.

The following weekend temperatures were in the mid to upper 90s and I tried my best to ventilate the bees the best I could. When I went in on June 21st, this is what I saw:

As you may know after reading this post, those are queen cells; some swarm, others emergency or supercedure cells.

My original theory was that it was too hot in the hive so she swarmed. A swarm is when a queen decides the hive is too crowded, so she takes about half the bees and finds a nearby branch or bush to live on until guard bees find a proper home. The only problem with that idea was I had nearly the exact same number of bees in the hive when I checked it on the 21st and there was no swarm in sight. My next theory was that the way I added a second box didn’t provide enough ventilation and that my queen died of stress (overheating). A beekeeper friend of mine thinks I must have squished her when closing things up with my teammates.

Regardless, I was in trouble and had NO IDEA what I was doing.

Did you know? A swarm can have anywhere from 2 thousand to 30 thousand bees, depending on the original size of the hive.

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