Sophia Expansion Update

It has been two weeks since the Sophia colony was split to generate a spin-off swarm (artificial swarm). Recall that this entailed taking the original queen from the Sophia hive, placing her in a nucleation box/hive along with “two brood, two food and two shakes” to quote Pauline Walsh. The two shakes is a rather descriptive term for the process of transferring a small stock of bees from the parent hive to the nucleation box by a simple process of lifting a frame from the parent hive with a large cluster of bees on it and shaking it over the nucleation box depositing bees there – a task force charged with keeping the dislodged queen warm and building up the new colony. The nucleation box was then transferred to Rockbarton and placed beside my Rockbarton hive (Foxgrove 1). In a quid-quo-pro process, the Rockbarton queen was taken from her thriving colony, placed in a poly nuc box with a ‘nucleation’ force of workers and provisions and transferred to Knockainey to take up residence beside the Sophia hive. Last week, both nucleation colonies were installed in their new homes which were positioned in the same location as the nucleation hives sat – don’t want to confuse the bees.

Last week, the nucleation colony was transferred to a wooden hive, see graphic above. There appears to have been a run on wooden hives as the usual hive suppliers appear to be completely out of stock of national wooden hives. Fortunately, our fellow beekeeper, Alan Forskitt was able to loan us a wooden hive at short notice.

A viable queen cell within the original Sophia hive (now without a queen) was located and the frame containing the cell was marked with a dye marker. Hopefully, this cell will produce the new virgin queen for the established colony.

Queen Cell
Alan locates a strong viable queen cell and the frame is marked to facilitate future inspection.

The original Sophia queen now resides in a new polyurethane hive at Rockbarton, Co Limerick. Both nucleation hives are separated by a distance of greater than 5 km from their original hive.

Rockbarton Hives 1 and 2
The original Rockbarton hive on the left with the new hive on the right containing the spin off (artificial) swarm from Sophia and original Sophia queen.

Forthcoming milestones for the Sophia hive project hinge on the siting of eggs in the nucleation site and establishing that the original Sophia site is queen right. Will be relying on Pauline and Alan to guide us here. You can watch the data flow from the original Sophia hive here: