Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old Queen

Click on picture to enlarge.

Just caught this swarm a few days ago.  The queen's wings are quite tattered.  How old do you think she could be?  With wings like that, surely she has swarmed before.  The record is said to be nine years, but that was a queen with clipped wings.

Most of the swarms I catch around here seem to be very very small, likely less than a pound in most cases.  It leads me to hypothesize that there is a couple of small feral hives in small tree hollows in the area.  They are so small that an overflowing hive still produces a swarm that is this small.  It also leads me to hypothesize that the swarms I am catching are not being produced by my hives as my smallest hive being composed of a single deep would produce a swarm still much larger than this.  These last two swarms only covered approximately a single deep frame.

As you can see, this hive is composed of workers of a light complexion with well defined dark bands on their abdomens.  The other swarm is composed of workers with about 30% being dark complected like carniolans.  This is interesting to me because I'm still on the hunt for black queens.  None of my nine queens are black as of the current time.

Not all swarms draw small cell foundation well, this one is doing better than most which leads me to believe at least second generation away from a kept hive. 

Unfortunately for this queen, her days are surely numbered.  A supercedure cell already prepares her replacement.