I took a small swarm on 7th May, probably a cast or secondary swarm with a virgin queen as it was the second swarm to land in that garden at Chetnole within days. I installed it in the transparent hive, the construction of which is pictured in my blog of 27th February, and added the thermometers and varroa floor.
I have been visiting it, in my allotment shed, almost every day since. As the weather was a bit chilly at first and they were rather small I fed them a pound of sugar made into syrup. The feeder was the plastic milk bottle I carried the syrup in, laid down with the side cut out using my Swiss Army knife and a scrungled up plastic bag inserted for them to walk on without drowning.
Each day I record the temperature from the top of the cluster (which they formed in exactly the right place), from the rear of the inside of the hive and from the shed outside the hive. Also I record the varroa drop and examine the floor for any other debris that might be of interest. It’s amazing how much wax is wasted by the platelets being dropped.
The varroa drop was running steadily at 2 or 3 a day (about a quarter of them still alive) but, a couple of days ago there was none and yesterday but one. Either they’ve run out of mites or (more likely) the new queen got herself mated, started laying, and the first brood was about to be sealed so all the remaining mites would hive got into the cells just before.
I was able, yesterday, to get a good view for the first time of the comb they have been building and took a photo through the back door. Here it is:
I was interested to see the alignment of the comb. Would it be the warm way (parallel with the front of the hive) or the cold way (at right angles to it). It was neither! It was slanting towards the entrance. There’s no reason to suppose that bees would share our fixation with the right angle and straight lines. I wondered whether the earth’s magnetic field might have had an influence so I fetched a compass. The combs are aligned WNW/ESE, which may have some significance in bee terms but means nothing to me.
I think that the famous philosopher, William of Ockham, would have, in this situation, applied his maxim: “Entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity” or, in modern terms “Keep it simple, stupid.”. So, on this evidence, the alignment of the combs is random, but in line with the entrance.