The main reason that we encourage people to start with 2 hives instead of 1 is so that you have extra resources. I use the phrase, “rob peter to pay paul” quite often. That means if one hive has an abundance of honey, you can shake the bees off and give it to another that may be lacking. In fact, come late Summer or “dearth”, you will want to try and make your hives even. This helps with robbing.
A secondary reason to have 2 hives is to compare how different hives can be. I know that a lot of you want to see the same exact progress in all your hives, but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.
You will have one hive that just looks amazing. There will be lots of eggs, capped brood, larva, honey and pollen. And there will be one that struggles along, building slow. I’ve seen this every year.
I’ve also seen an amazing hive slow down later in the season and the weaker one start to blow up. And, by the time late fall is here they are pretty much even in progress.
I know you want to monitor their progress and you get concerned when you don’t see immediate growth. Just bee patient.
Comparing a wild hive or swarm to a nuc or hive from me is not going to be a good comparison. Swarms are eager to build comb, so they will grow super fast. Trust me when I say, they slow down eventually.
In closing, I want to say that right now my bees are seriously bringing in the honey. They aren’t a bit interested in my sugar water. So, if your bees are the same, don’t worry. Let them bring in their honey and the minute the honey flow stops, try feeding them again.
Keep looking for eggs once a week. If you can’t see them, take a picture and enlarge it when you are inside. Take 100 pictures if you have to.
Remember, the first year is all about learning!
Sometimes queens die. Sometimes it happens in transportation, sometimes she dies in an inspection, sometimes she rolls off a frame. I've had all 3 of these things happen.
Knowing how long things take helps you predict where things are going or where things have been.
If you find eggs, but you can't find her, you know there was a queen 3 days ago. She’s probably still there, you just simply missed her.
If you find a queen cell and it's uncapped, it is less than 8 days old, as the queen cell caps at 8 days. The cell stays capped from 8 days, all the way up to 16 days. After 16 days, the queen will be born and within 8 more days, you should see eggs.
If you killed or lost a queen, how long before you'll have a laying queen again? Approximately 24 days.
If you find a capped queen cell, how long before it should emerge? 8-9 days.
If a queen is killed and the bees raise a new one how much brood will be left in the hive just before the new queen starts to lay? None. It will take 24 days for the new queen to start laying and in 21 days all the workers will have emerged.
If the queen starts laying today, how long before that brood will be foraging for honey? 42 days. Remember the bees get promoted and collecting nectar is the last stage of their lives.
It's unfortunate when your queen dies, but the good news is, they can requeen themselves if there are eggs in your hive!
Another option is to find a mated queen and requeen that way. Sometimes it's hard to find one just at the moment you need her, but if you can, you are definitely speeding up this process!