We went into the bees this afternoon and harvested another couple of supers filled with Tropical Wildflower honey. Nothing like a honey flow to make one feel bountiful!
However, two of the hives, when opened, were buzzing much louder than the rest. This is the sign of a queenless hive. And that is not a good thing! A hive without a queen is destined to perish if not requeened ASAP.
One way of requeening is to order a queen from a beekeeping supply house. She comes in a little cage with a sugar candy entrance. Over the course of a couple of days, the bees begin to nibble away at the candy. During this time they become accustomed to the scent of the new queen. The hope is that by the time they finish the candy, they've become used to the queen's aroma enough to accept her. This is crucial!
Sometimes when the hive goes queenless, worker bees will begin to lay eggs. The worker bees have never mated, but they can lay eggs in a pinch in an emergency such as this. (In the same way that a hen will lay eggs whether or not she has ever seen a rooster....).
BUT....an unmated worker bee will lay eggs that develop into MALE bees, or drones. The problem here is that the workers....work....and the drones...eat. So if the workers start to lay eggs in the absence of a reigning queen, they will produce baby boys, and in a short time there will be lots of hungry mouths, but no food. Thus ends the life of the colony.....