Today I did an in-depth inspection of the Gloriana hive, and pulled a frame full of capped honey to give to the new colony that I cut out of the magnolia tree in San Lorenzo.
That colony is small, but mighty. They've been in the their new hive box just eight days, and already they're building beautiful white wax comb.
One nice thing about a small colony: there's a chance that we'll spot the queen. I swear, I never see the queens in my two big hives. There are just too many bees, and it takes so long to go through all the frames that the queen has plenty of time to vamoose.
Can you see her? She's the largest, reddest bee. She's dead-center in my photograph, with a bit of space on all sides.
In pouring over my photographs, I realized that the Magnolia queen is already laying eggs, and some of those eggs have hatched into larvae. She must have gotten to work the instant her retinue had built the first comb.
Robb and I had assumed that this queen was a virgin queen, and that we'd have to wait for her to make her mating flight before she started laying. We're delighted to be proved wrong in our assumptions. If this queen is already laying eggs, the colony stands a better chance of building up a large enough population to make it through the winter.
Of course, winters around here aren't particularly rough, but the hive does need a critical mass for survival.
Good for you, Magnolia Queen!