The weather eventually got warmer and sunnier I ventured up again to see how my little ladies were getting on. I knew I had to feed them all, after a cold spell. One hives out of my 13 was a super strong one. Two weeks ago, it was already on 20 frames and going great guns! I resolved to go up as soon as the temperature permitted, more than 15 deg. C, and do a split to get “two for one”.
High hopes and expectations! But disaster struck! Going through all 20 frames I found no brood (eggs that have been laid by the queen). What? No brood? Where had the queen gone? All the thousands of bees on 20 frames and no queen and no babies. I was certainly not prepared for that. After all it was my strongest hive or at least I thought so. The French call this situation ‘orpheline’ (orphan). So, now I had about 60,000 orphaned and extremely angry bees on my hands.
I was madly trying to find a solution.
To my relief, it was firmly suggested (by Kate my wife) to go back the following day and fix it quickly.
That evening I prepared a colony at Roquefort to move to Coursegoules to give my bees a new queen. The next morning, I set off with some trepidation.
OMG! They were waiting for me. They were so angry. I was attacked and had to escape at speed suffering several stings in the process. Then suitably attired with a smoker etc. at the ready I went into ‘attack’ myself. The operation went well. I placed the new colony where the old one was, having moved the old one aside. Dispersed much smoke, opened it and having spread two pages of Le Figaro, I simply placed the orphaned colony on top.
I used a spray of lavender water (useful tool) to calm the bees and disperse pheromones. A measure of calm ensued although some bees were a bit unforgiving and pursued me all the way back to the car!
So down to 12 hives and a lot of work to do.