After waiting nearly four long weeks, my mentor gave me the go ahead! I opened my delicate hives (each now half of the old hive) in search of new life. Because the development stages of a honeybee each last an exact number of days, it was easy to determine an approximate day that my new queens should have returned to the hive (after taking their mating flight) and started laying eggs. To be sure that I did not disturb the process or prevent a fertile queen from returning safely to the hive, I waited a few extra days. Long days.
I was in awe of what I found.
Each hive not only had eggs in the comb but also fat, juicy larva that were at least four or five days old. This means that the queen had been successfully laying fertile eggs for six or seven days. Their hard work paid off!
When a queen lays an egg at the bottom of a honeycomb cell, it sticks out horizontally and stays firmly suspended for the first day. The second day, the egg begins to bend back toward the wax-covered foundation where one end is embedded, and on the third day, the egg lays itself entirely against the foundation in preparation to hatch. During this three to 3 1/2-day period, the worker bees are feeding the egg royal jelly, a protein-rich, milky fluid that the worker bees create in their head glands.
Once the egg hatches, it becomes a larva and lies coiled at the base of the cell for five days while the worker bees feed it a mixture of honey and pollen. After the fifth day, the
cell is capped with a porous cover of wax and pollen and the developing larva is no longer fed. In just two more days, it spins a cocoon around itself and becomes a pupa, at which point, it begins to develop the separate and essential body structures of a bee. The wings develop last. On day twenty-one, the adult bee chews its way through the wax seal of the cell and emerges into the world to fill her duties.
If my calculations are correct, the first eggs that the new queens laid in August should be emerging as adults within the next few days! Here’s to a new generation!!
On a side note, I couldn’t bare to off the old queen, so she’s in a box with a small colony of worker bees on my front porch. I’ll treat the small hive with a miticide (any suggestions?) and feed them through the winter to see if they can survive. This will be an interesting opportunity to observe the strength and survival of a hive treated with miticide versus one (actually two!) that broke the mite cycle altogether by means of the OTS Queen Rearing Method. I’ll share my findings in the spring!