Last week we inspected our bee hives and found them booming with bees, and Flora filled with queen cells. The hives were perfect splitting size, and we decided to start a new box.
So from Flora we took a frame that had a queen cell among the brood—you can see it in the photo below (it looks kind of like a big peanut). Then, from Aurora we stole some frames with uncapped brood and eggs. All the frames we took were covered with nurse bees taking care of brood and hives (but we were very careful not to take Queen Flora or Queen Aurora).
With those four frames and a fifth frame filled with honey we made a little five-frame nuc.
The idea is that inside the queen cell sleeps a virgin queen. With luck, she will emerge, fly out to mate with some drones, then return to the nuc and start laying a bee-lifetime of eggs. She will start a dynasty, and we'll have a baby hive.
We were a little nervous about this process, especially when, for about four days, we didn't see any bees coming and going. But of course there were no foragers; the nurse bees we'd taken from the big hives were young bees who were still enjoying hive duty, and not yet flying.
But this week? The young bees are zig-zagging in front of the hive as they orient themselves, then zipping off to find nectar and pollen to feed the other baby bees. We're not sure if the queen has emerged from her cell yet and assumed her responsibilites. We're going to leave the bees alone for awhile to give her a chance to do that.
We've already named our future queen Briar Rose.