Last week, I checked on my split hives. New queen was going well, but… old queen was nowhere to be found. That hive was full of bees, but no single grub or brood to be found. The queen is dead, long live the queen, except there wasn’t one. I suspect she may have been killed when I last checked the hive. I never really liked her anyway.
There were two empty queen cells, which I guess was a last ditch effort to survive, but neither seemed to work. I left it for one more week, in case a queen had hatched, mated, and was nearly ready to lay, but no luck. Today, there was still plenty of bees, but no brood. I had one last choice – either add a frame of brood, or merge the hives back again.
Add brood – the bees would quickly turn newly hatched eggs into queens, which would incubate, then hatch, mate, and begin to lay. The problem is the length of time it would take, most of the old bees would be dead by then, and the hive would dwindle and die in the rapidly approaching winter cold. Not good. If it happened a month ago, this would still be the better option.
Merge hives – place two sheets of newspaper between the hive boxes, and by the time they eat through the paper, their smells would have mingled, so no fighting. Any bees that were out and about would miss the switch and would probably perish.
I chose to merge, and so put the hives together. There were probably not too many bees out and about, due to the approaching Southerly change. Here, a Southerly has just visited Antarctica, and so is just a tiny bit chilly. The Southerly arrived less than 10 minutes after the hives were all put back together. There may be snow to low levels tonight. I suspect there will be hundreds of dead bees from the process, but the bulk will be saved, and robbing of empty hives discouraged. At least Olive hive’s new queen is working well.
You live and learn.