Events took an usual and exciting turn yesterday after I had posted my entry wondering about the mysteries of what was going on inside our nest and whether we were seeing evidence for a second brood.
Well, the shandy was duly cracked open as we were astonished to get confirmation that a second colony of bees was hatching.
We caught a short glimpse of this little beauty on the CCTV (not been seen since). The picture shows her compared to the largest bee we have in the nest.
As you can see, she is tiny. We hope she is well formed and hasn't hatched too soon or been too cold. It's not quite possible to tell from the CCTV if her wings are properly intact. That's one of the things that define her potential for success.
We think there are four in total now, though they keep confusing me from time to time by staying out overnight! The bees we can identify are:
- The big fuzzy one seen above. Can't be 100% sure if she is a queen or not, but she is collecting pollen regularly.
- Two "thin & stripy" bees, with very unusual (but similar) markings. One of these has been around a few weeks and had "nest fixer" role, rarely collected pollen. But a second one now exists, and does seem to spend more time collecting pollen, but also has a nest-checking role. Because they are collecting pollen they cannot be Cuckoos; so what is the explanation for their strange markings? I like the idea that they are offspring from the Buftailed Queen and Redtailed male we saw mating. Need to check out if that is viable, but the timing would fit.
- Little "Baby bee" as seen above. We've only seen the one glimpse of her inside the nest, so have no idea at this stage what she's up to or even whether she's still alive.
Having seen the pattern of the original colony fade, about 5 Queens emerge, see one of them mating, see pollen still being collected and seeing these new bees emerge, it's conclusive evidence that we'd had a second - albeit small - brood.
What a wonderful journey our bees have been on! I feel like another shandy...