Sometime during the winter our bee queen passed away. Seeing no brood we worried, but we read online that sometimes Italian Queens were slow to start laying in Spring. Then we saw erratic egg laying with several eggs in each cell, but we read online that this sometimes this happens with young queens.
Since we had no second hive to introduce new brood from, we waited, and as it turns out, the queen had died, and for some reason the bees hadn’t been able to raise a new one. Instead a worker had tried to take over. Un-mated, she could only lay drones. The decline of the hive was fast after that, and the last time we opened it it had been completely cleaned out by robber bees, leaving only a few drone brood behind.
After a little wait while new queens were being raised for us, this week we welcomed Queen Beresford the Second and Queen Eleanor. With a full summer to come, and lots of flowers, they should each have two boxes of brood and honey to keep them warm and fed next winter. With two queens, if one should die, we can provide brood so that another queen can be raised, or in the worst case, combine the hives.
After the initial orientation ceremonies, the feasting began. Comfrey, Cordyline, Echium, Lavender, and Borage and Blackberry were tasted and found delicious. Small scented pelargonium flowers were declared a novel delicacy. Artichoke buds, young Salvia flowers, and growing Dahlias, Rudeckias, and Coreopsis were examined and admired. The Olive tree archway is again a buzzing tunnel.
We are all looking forward to an abundant summer.