All the advice we received was good: wait and let the bees take care of themselves. I’m happy to report you all were right. They did. They made a new queen and the colony is thriving again. We got in the hive this morning and found our queen in the second bar from the entrance, which is actually the last bar we inspected. It was such a relief…until…the queen flew away! I couldn’t believe it. I’m watching her and suddenly she decides to fly. I hadn’t even taken a picture yet. Though we were confident she would return, we were still a little concerned. A couple minutes later my wife spotted the queen on the ground. She was trying to make her way back to the colony but had some trouble getting up the side of the hive. I gave her a lift on my glove and set her on the landing strip, where she scurried back inside to safety. A video is below. Can you spot her?
The hive is once again full of eggs and larvae and capped brood comb, all of which had been missing the last two inspections. There isn’t a lot of stored honey left, I suspect they ate a lot of it while queenless and frantic, but they are building the stores back up. My wife took the picture below while we inspected a comb with a small tunnel in it. It demonstrates all the good things happening inside. And it’s a pretty cool shot!
The bees are also much calmer now that order has been restored with the presence of their queen. They are no longer aggressive and let us go about our business. We still have a minor issue with small hive beetles. You can see the menaces in the photo below. We are going to set an oil trap in the hive this week. I will try to document that in a post along with some results. Needless to say, we are encouraged, relieved, and excited to have a queen. We won’t be harvesting any honey this year, but our goal now is just to help them get through the winter so they can have a strong start to 2016.