My glance then fell on the other hive and I felt quite sad. The bees were coming and going, albeit fewer of them, filling a doomed hive with stores. The colony has no chance of survival without a queen. As each day passes the number of workers diminish and the colony's eventual fate is to dwindle and die.
I didn't relish the prospect of dismantling a failed hive in the Autumn, so I hit the internet and checked out the website of Honeyfields Bee Farm. It stated that they supply mated queens right through until the end of August so I grabbed a 'phone and rang them ...
... A few minutes later a queen had been ordered overnight delivery.
In my discussions with the Apiary I learnt that there is no guarantee of success, but at least they will stand a chance with a fresh queen.
The day rumbled on and I filled my time polishing a presentation to be delivered at the end of the week.
Shortly after four o'clock the sun broke through and I put on my bee suit and headed out to checked the queen-less colony. I spent a good while inspecting the frames for any sign of eggs, larvae or a virgin queen. If there were any signs of a resident queen the forthcoming introduction would be doomed, but I saw nothing. The new queen is the only chance the hive has.
The evening saw a trip to Dog Training and Whiffler was on pretty good form. He was a little wayward when walking to heel, but sharpened up as the class continued ... By the time he was crunching his end of class treat from the Instructor, he had aced the "tricky" yellow box exercise and also made a good attempt at the "STOP DOG" exercise.*
As the day drew to a close I spent time researching Queen introductions on the internet. It all seems quite straightforward; I just need to wait until she arrives and get on with it. I just hope that the workers will accept her and last long enough to raise new brood.
---* Whiffler is placed at the far end of the training room and I walk to the other end. I then recall him. As he comes towards me I give him a "STOP" command with the aim of getting him to stop and sit halfway between his starting point and me. This exercise is a real challenge as it only takes him five paces, when running, to get from one end of the hall to the other. The key to this exercise is to get him to recall slowly!