Wax Makes the Difference

On May 8 I pulled the frame I’d inserted into my primed hive the day before. This frame is just queen cells — three bars with standard JZBZ, homemade wax cups, and 3D printed cups. As I anticipated, the bees enthusiastically drew out the waxed cups. (Compare this with my April test run.) Unexpectedly, they didn’t touch either of the plastic versions.

You can see a little bit of wax action on the edit of the last red cup at the top — they’re taking interest, but not nearly as enthusiastically as the wax cups I gave them. There were no eggs in the cups yet.

Also on May 8 I re-introduced a queen cage in a second hive. Hive 2 was not quite as swarm-ready as the first, judging by the queen cups — there were many drawn, but the workers weren’t quite as interested in them as they were in the first hive — and none were charged. This hive received a frame with about 2″ of drawn comb at the top, and then two bars of queen cups.

However with this frame, I dipped all of the plastic cups (JZBZ and 3-D printed) in hot wax to give them a coating. This frame was prepped before I saw the results from Hive 1, done on a hunch.

Unfortunately the weather’s not been great for opening hives. The last two days have been too chilly. I thought I had a window today (May 11) when the sun popped out (it’s still only 50F / 10C) and pulled out the cage from Hive 2.

There’s a ton of bees in there, and from what I could see, they’ve started to draw out all of the cells I gave them – plastic or wax. The rain moved in before I could clean off the frame and get a better picture, and before I could check the frame in Hive 1 to see if there were any eggs laid up yet.

My assumption is that the queen laid in the foundation at the top of the frame, which drew in a bunch of nurse workers to take care of them. They then directed attention to the queen cups.

Hive 2 had originally received the side-facing cups in my April test runs. When I released the queen the first time, I just popped the frame back in to see what would happen. Interestingly, they have ignored those queen cups.

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll try again so that I can properly clear out the queen excluder and get a good look into Hive 2’s frame, as well as see what’s going on in Hive 1.

Northeast SARE LogoThis material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number FNE24-102. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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