Well, new developments in the observation hive! On Saturday, March 7th, I had given the queen a new, empty frame of drawn comb on which to lay eggs as she had filled the previous frame. I noticed that she just did not seem to like this new frame as she refused to lay eggs and just stood around on the top bar of the frame. So today, the 10th, I decided to swap out the frame with the original frame since many of the capped cells (pupa) had hatched out. When installing the frame and the queen, I notice three queen cells are starting to be drawn out. This means that the colony is making preparations to swarm, which is the honeybee colony’s means of reproduction.
The queen may have stopped laying in order to slim down to be able to fly off with the swarm. Normally a laying queen is too heavy to fly – at least not very far. When a colony decides to swarm, they raise a new queen and the reigning queen flys off to a new location, taking about 60% of the workers with her to establish a new colony. The first new queen to emerge from her cell will kill her potential rival queens, by stinging them before they emerge from their cells. If two queens emerge at the same time they will fight to the death leaving the victor to take over the hive. I will monitor the growth of these queen cells and harvest them before the queens emerge and will place the cells in a queenless colonies that I will create from some of my existing hives.