HELP!!!!! MY queen is DEAD!!!!! :( :( :(

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Omie, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    HELLLLLLLLPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!

    Today is a very odd 60f degree day in December, and I went out to the hive and bees were out and about as expected.
    As usual, there were about a dozen dead workers lying about on the ground- they seem to either get old or chilled regularly. I assume this is natural, and they look healthy otherwise- no mites or deformed wings.

    But this morning I found THE QUEEN lying dead outside the hive on the ground!!!!! :beg: :beg:
    Here is a picture to confirm:
    [​IMG]

    WHAT DOES IT MEAN???????????? Should I be devastated????
    What should I do???

    Except for today, temps are now in the 20-30s at night and 30s-40s daytime highs....too cold to go hive opening and inspecting anymore. Drones are nowhere to be found- I'm sure they got kicked out long ago.

    Please help me understand and calm down!!!! I'm pretty shaken up....they all seemed so healthy and happy! :cry: AAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    OK, Mama. Settle down a bit. Things may not be as bad as they seem. Many hives will supercede the queen, but allow the old one to remain in the hive until winter, or until a natural death.

    Your queen doesn't look to have met a violent death, so she may just be the replaced one who didn't get booted in the fall. I would relax until Feb. and check for eggs the last half of the month.

    Then if you have a problem, you can order a queen from Kona queens in Hi., although it is likely that you won't have to.
     

  3. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Although it is never good to find a queen outside the hive, there could be a number of reasons.

    You need to make sure it was not a situiation where you had a two queen colony, and they decided on trimming down for winter and cast one out.

    I know cold weather is coming, but try to see if there is another queen, if there is efforts to raise another queen, or something else.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    If they raise another queen now though, since there are no drones she will remain virgin, right? And would a virgin queen live through the winter and then mate in the Spring?- not bloody likely, right?
     
  5. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Your right.

    But under the circumstances, seeing some queen cells, will at least confirm the situation. And then you will not be wasting money on a queen and very expensive shipping...
     
  6. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    I do believe that the queen mates within 30 days of hatching under normal circumstances, with no drones I can't see how that happens. and a queen laying unfertilized eggs will produce only drone brood something else you don't a new queen would be VERY difficult to find in a well populated colony--but I would try to see whats going on--no matter how cold it gets there is always brood being raised and in various stages of developement though in a small area on a few combswait a few weeks check out ( carefully so as to not overly expose the brood to cold ) and replace the frame exactly where you found it should have eggs, larvae and even worker pupae.
    Barry
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Ask 10 beekeepers and get 11 answers. Everybody has their ways, but I don't think the hive should be opened when there is nothing you can do if a problem is found. I would wait until queens are available before opening the hive again. Opening it now is just going to be detrimental to the hive, whatever you find in there.
     
  8. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    I agree with iddee on opening the hive this late in the season being detrimental.

    For what it's worth, bees can remain queenless for quite some time and not turn up their toes and die. I had a queenless hive for several months last year before I managed to get a queen cell to install. The bees just kept doing their thing... except the brood-rearing part. This was in summer, and the bad part was that the colony ended up too small to survive last winter. I have no great experience with this, but I would think that having a queenless hive over the winter would not be a death sentence. You may lose a few months of brood from the Jan-Feb timeframe, but they could gear up in spring.

    If I am totally off base, somebody wise PLEASE set me straight. I'm just speaking from my "gut feel."
     
  9. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I also would not open the hive this time of year. Even if you went through them and they were queenless then what could you do, nothing.

    If there is still a queen inside you will take the chance of chilling the brood.

    Wait until spring when it starts to warm up to make your inspection, you may be pleasently surprised, and if not then you can find a queen.

    I hope for the best.

    G3
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I'm with iddee. if there is nothing positive you can do, why do it? others have commented on the downside of manipulation now. I will add the following... as we approach dec 21 there is a good likelyhood that even if there is a queen in the hive she may not be laying now. it would be quite normal for her to have totally shut down by now. so you could look inside, see nothing and still not know anymore than you know now. after January the 5th or so this natural break will come to a close and then you might expect to at least know yea or nay.

    I think perhaps odie has fallen for the old line of wisdom that there is only one laying queen in the hive at one time? which as a rule MAYBE works 90% of the time. the MAYBE can be interpreted as the behavior of most beekeeper is to look for a queen and then 'what the good reason' for looking any further? some of us have seen multipe queens in a hive and suspect that it is much more common than at least I use to suspect.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Thank you all for helping me!
    Forgive me if that this thread is repeated on another forum (i normally don't do that)- but I truly needed all the advice I could get today! :cry:

    I've calmed down a bit.

    Bees seemed to be coming and going normally from the hive today for a 60F day, with no apparent battles going on.
    Last time I opened the top and looked in was Thanksgiving day and all looked well then, with lots of activity and honey.

    I called Sam Comfort today- who went through the hive frame by frame with me back around Halloween before we moved it together. It all looked good back then and we found at least the one queen (who looked exactly like this dead one). And then, 26 days after we moved the hive to my house, I found one white worker larva tossed out the door, just getting its gray eyes. That told me there was still some fertile egg laying happening after the move (since the max from egg to hatchling is about 24 days)...so the queen made it past the move and kept laying.
    Sam said this dead queen was pretty unusual in December.
    Between that discussion with Sam and the forum advice I've been getting, I decided not to open the hive and go through it until Spring. The main reason is, as some of you stated, that basically there is nothing I can do either way to fix anything...or even to know for certain what the situation actually is.

    I mean, if I look through the whole 2 deep hive and don't find a queen- that could mean either there is no queen OR that I simply didn't see her.
    If I look through the hive and do see a queen...then either all is well OR it's a new virgin queen and since there are no drones around anymore there's no telling how or if she will fare over the winter at all. So just seeing a queen wouldn't necessarily solve all my problems either.

    Either way, there's nothing I can do now but wait until Spring and then go in and see if there's Trouble in River City.

    My biggest goal with this hive was to continue this particular gene pool of extremely gentle acclimatized bees that had done well for years with no treatments to speak of. For that i am counting on a new queen daughter from the old dead queen. :(
    I will just have to wait through the whole winter now, not knowing what to expect in the Spring.

    When i think of the odds against my even having seen her majesty there on the ground amongst the other usual brave dead and debris tossed about....I could so easily have overlooked her and not noticed at all!

    Thanks for your support and interesting different thoughts on it.

    i feel pretty bad as you can imagine, but i am going with the hopeful idea that a new queen was there and mated already before the move and before the drones were gone, and we just didn't see her, and that this was the old queen who was allowed to die off naturally. Since my bees are so gentle, perhaps they were kindly enough to allow the old queen to hang around in her dotage. I'll hang on to that optimistic thought through the winter. :eek:

    Maybe next week in the forties sometimes I will take a quick peek under the hood without disturbing frames, just to make sure the gang is still actually there.
     
  12. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    As you said, "...done well for years with no treatments..." Keep a good thought. :thumbsup:

    Walt
     
  13. Charles

    Charles New Member

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    I agree with Walt, keep the faith sister. The bees are just doing what bees do. "The unexpected" ;)
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    omie writes:
    Maybe next week in the forties sometimes I will take a quick peek under the hood without disturbing frames, just to make sure the gang is still actually there.

    tecumseh:
    here is a bit of nuiance and bee bioliogy with which you need to get familar.

    smaller point...at 55 the bees begin to cluster and the colder it get the more compact the cluster becomes. in the mid 40's the bees will fly very little since they don't want to brake from the cluster and you as the beekeeper don't want them to break their cluster either since that little ball of bees is also trapping heat... so breaking cluster also means the heat goes right out the top of the hive. this small critical bit of trapped heat is difficult for the bee to reorganize so whatever you do make certain the cluster is not greatly disturbed.
    larger point...above 55 the bees will want to fly and you have a pretty good idea of this hive disposition from you prior opening up of the hive. without a queen??? the indiviual bees and the unit will become increasing agitated, disorganized and hostile. so even without looking for the queen herself the hives disposition become an excellent gauge for determing if a hive is or is not queenright. it is not so good to make this comparitive analysis between hives* since hive disposition can vary greatly between hives.

    *once you have popped enough lids the organization and disposition of the hive tranaslates into an almost instant message as to whether that particular hive is or is not queenright.
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    A slight update....
    Today is 48F and sunny and calm....so I figured I'd just pop the hood to see if the gang is in fact all still there, to make sure the dry sugar was not blocking any traffic routes or ventilation, and to observe their general mood over losing a queen.
    First this morning I watched them for a while coming and going from the hive.
    There were several workers washboarding the upper entrance, and workers were coming and going from both top and bottom entrances.
    I saw a couple coming in with small amounts of pollen on their legs. I also saw a couple of dead workers get hauled out of the hive and dumped a few feet away. there were a few leaving with tiny balls of dry sugar in their mouths, obviously having decided to get rid of some of the mountain camp sugar I had put in the top. Or maybe those were sugar crumbs that had fallen down in the combs and didn't belong there. Everything seemed normal.

    I puffed some very light smoke about and then removed the outer and inner lids...

    The 10 lbs of mountain camp method sugar was nicely positioned and there were plenty of big pathways around it for the bees to go where they pleased around the top area there. It had formed a nice crust where I had sprayed it with water after laying it on the damp newspaper back on Thanksgiving day when it was 60F.

    Everyone was there in the hive, moving busily around on the frames on this nice sunny day.
    They were in a seemingly good mood... active and focused on their work. Nobody was irritable or came after me. I put the covers back on to leave them to their business. After today the weather will get colder again, certainly too cold to look under the covers.

    So whatever has occurred, it's not CCD and the bees coming and going calmly are not just robbers raiding an empty hive.
     
  16. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper New Member

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    Being it has gotten colder and the worker bees are not flying they will live much longer. When there is a string of warmer days in March I would take a good look in the hive to see if there is capped worker brood. If there is you don't have a problem. If there isn't you also don'thave a problem as you should be able to buy a queen to install then. I would spend the extra money to get one shipped over night though rather than do the wait for the snail mail to arrive and miss a window of warm weather.

    I would not open the hive at this time that is for sure. Too cold out there for a lot of peoplelet alone bees.

    :mrgreen: Al
     
  17. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Thanks Al. All good advice.

    Capped worker brood in early Spring would mean a fertile queen is definitely in there. (correct?)
    And if there is only capped drone brood in the Spring, that would mean what....? A virgin queen that would be too old by then to mate? Or a laying worker?
    (Obviously no capped brood in early April or so would mean no functioning queen is there, right?)
     
  18. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    A little update....

    I realized that it might be wise for me to line up a source for some new bees/queen/etc for the Spring in case there is no longer any queen in my hive. I wanted some bees from my climate zone and better yet some that had not been treated a lot, especially mite resistant.
    I hit several discouraging dead ends.

    Tonight I made phone call to an older BK who is only a few miles away and has been keeping many hives for decades. I hadn't thought of him before, but someone suggested him to me and I found his phone number.
    He and I hit it off very well and found we shared many views. I will be taking some BK classes from him in the Spring and he said there would be 'no problem' getting bees and queens from him then either. :Dancing:

    but the best thing was when i told him about finding my dead queen....he said "Oh, I've seen that many times in the Fall, it usually means you've had mother & daughter queens in there laying together for a while, and the older one finally died and was tossed out." I asked him what if the daughter was recently emerged and was a virgin, and he said it was more likely that she emerged a couple of months ago and already mated back then when there were drones around. He said he 'might' be wrong, but that he strongly suspected I had a good young fertile daughter queen in the hive. He then assured me that whatever my situation was in the Spring, we would make it all ok. :bow: What a wonderful man!!! :bow:

    So now I feel so much calmer and more hopeful too, knowing that everything will be all right in the end.
    Plus I look forward to taking his classes and seeing his apiaries!
     
  19. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    omie writes:
    apped worker brood in early Spring would mean a fertile queen is definitely in there. (correct?)
    And if there is only capped drone brood in the Spring, that would mean what....? A virgin queen that would be too old by then to mate? Or a laying worker?
    (Obviously no capped brood in early April or so would mean no functioning queen is there, right?)

    tecumseh:
    I have been told/informed by knowledgeable folks that almost anywhere in the us of a queens that have ceased laying will begin to lay at or about January 5. It is almost like an alarm goes off and 'the girls' wake up and know it is time to go to work.

    you have three possibilites.

    1) a lot of worker larvae and a few drone larvae means the queen is quite functional.
    2) lot of drone cell with many originating in worker celll... this is a drone laying queen which means she never bred appropriately in the prior season.
    3) laying workers... lot of eggs in individual cells with the eggs being set down almost anywhere in the cell. some of these cells may become capped with what appears to be drone cappings.
     
  20. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    >>>>it usually means you've had mother & daughter queens in there laying together for a while, and the older one finally died and was tossed out.<<<<

    Now, Let's see, where have I heard that before? ;) :D