I've checked all the hives, and not one of my recent splits has worked. The new Hive 3 had very few bees and no queen, so I've combined it with Hive 4. The top story of Hive 2 had lots of bees but no queen. I did find a hatched cell, but it was unbelievably small, the size of a worker cell, and they were making a loud buzz all the time they were open, as queenless colonies do. Hive 4 had a single supersedure cell, so I've moved that box across to Hive 3, and given it the cell. There are still drones about, so one sunny day at the right time should ensure mating.
The old queen is still there, and queenright autumn supersedure is a regular habit of native strains. This is when the hive raises a new queen without swarming, with the old queen still present and laying. She usually continues to lay for some time before finally disappearing. It's something which should be sought out and selected for, since strains which do this rarely swarm. I haven't had a colony make swarm preparations since 2006.
I don't have as many colonies as I'd hoped to go into winter with. One has an old queen at the end of her life, but if they don't raise another cell, there's every chance of her coming through the winter. It's a pity it was only the one, as if there had been more I could have left one. Three colonies have young queens which appear to be well mated, and one has a cell. We'll see what's left next spring!
How to Pickle Walnuts - part 2
1 day ago