They were keen to 'have a go' at using the 'Apidea' ( a mini hive usually used as a mating nuc for Queen bees) They can be a bit tricky, as worker bees need to be introduced to 'draw out' sufficient comb for a queen to lay in. We started our apidea off early this year, and in early July, the children, you may remember introduced one of their home bred queens into it...
Much excitement yesterday, as we found she had successfully mated, returned to the apidea, and laid up all 3 of the mini frames!
So, we have to manage our colonies, giving them the best chance of getting through the winter. If we left this Queen in place, sadly the colony would dwindle out as not enough worker bees were being produced to ensure its survival... this is a vital time of year for the bees... bees born now don't live for the usual 6 weeks, they are our WINTER bees, taking the colony through the winter and living up to 6 months, so ensuring the colonies are bursting with healthy well fed bees is our priority.
So, we decided to Re-Queen this colony with the 'Apidea' queen to give it the best chance of building up some more before the end of the season.
Queens can't just be put into hives, they have to be carefully introduced as the existing queen and workers would kill the new queen. The pictures below show how the children have 'dispatched' the old queen and introduced the new queen and some of her workers from the apidea.
The difficult task of 'dispatching' the old Queen, the children did this quickly and sensibly. We then left the colony for an hour and a half, allowing the bees to realise they were 'Queenless' which hopefully helps them in accepting a new one.