Help needed - No brood cells

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Apicultrice, May 19, 2010.

  1. Apicultrice

    Apicultrice New Member

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    Hello

    We are relatively new to beekeeping. We got our first hive in September 2009 and another - saved from a dump - about three weeks ago. About a week after we got the dump hive, our first hive swarmed and the swarm disappeared, leaving a small colony behind but we didn't inspect.

    One week ago (about two weeks after the swarm went), we found a swarm in our garden, in a cherry tree beside hive number one. We think this came from hive number one again - they aren't as aggressive as the dump hive bees - or perhaps it could have been the first swarm returning although I don't know if that is possible...

    We managed to capture the swarm and put it in a "ruchette" as the French call it (mini hive with 5 frames - is this a "nuc" in English?).

    We inspected all hives today. The ruchette colony is doing really well, active and thriving but we couldn't find the queen. There seem to be some brood cells forming.

    The dump hive (had for 3 weeks) is doing well - we are replacing the frames gradually as they are all broken. They are quite a lot more aggressive than the first hive or the ruchette colony.

    Then we inspected hive number one (which has swarmed once if not twice) and discovered plenty of honey, about a half sized colony and about 5 brood cells over 10 frames and we couldn't spot a queen although we don't have that much experience. What should we do to help this colony reestablish itself??

    Thanks so much for any advice!!
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Yes, a nuc is a mini starter hive. It may contain any number of frames, but normally is 4 or 5.
    Hive #1 should be given 3 weeks minimum after the swarm for the new queen to begin laying eggs. A good insurance policy is to add a frame of eggs and brood to it from another hive. If it needs a queen, they will build queen cells from it. If not, it will still boost their numbers until the new queen starts producing.
     

  3. Monie

    Monie New Member

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    Sounds like your colonies are doing well. Yes, the 5 frame "ruchette" is what we call a nuc, which is short for nucleus. If you have brood in the nuc, then you definitely have a queen. Sometimes, it's easier to look for eggs and brood that it is to find the queen. If you haven't done so, add another hive body to your first hive. It sounds like they need more room, and may swarm again if you don't. Did you see any swarm cells in the first hive? If the dump hive is too mean form your liking, you can kill that queen and add a bought queen, or let them raise a queen from a frame of eggs, out of the hive whose temperment you do like.
     
  4. Apicultrice

    Apicultrice New Member

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    Thanks for your kind advice. Adding a super to hive number one was on the list of jobs to do the week of the first swarm! Dumb newbees!! We will do it ASAP. But as the only frames of brood we have right now are from the dump hive, I don't think we'll add any to number one hive because they are a bit mean. There are a couple of swarm cells in number one hive so we'll hang in there and wait for them to do their thing. We're not quite at critical mass yet for all the swapping around we need to do. I would like to replace the dump hive queen at some point, but I think we need a little more experience in queen spotting before that. Monie, you say we could let them raise a queen from a frame of eggs out of the hive whose temperament we do like - does that mean that any egg could become a queen cell?
     
  5. Monie

    Monie New Member

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    Yes. If they are queenless, they'll make a queen or queens from larvae that have just hatched from the eggs.

    Look for a longer bee planting it's hind end into a cell. That's the queen. Are the frames of brood workers or drones? If they are all drone, you could have laying workers...possibly a drone laying queen.
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    The meanness from the dump hive may well be coming from the drone daddies. An egg from that hive could easily produce a gentle queen who would mate with gentle drones.

    A queen can be made from any "FEMALE" egg. Not from a drone egg.

    My thoughts are you have a young queen in hive #1 that hasn't started laying yet.
     
  7. Apicultrice

    Apicultrice New Member

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    The brood frames in the dump hive are about 80% worker cells.

    I think we'll give it a week and have another look in hive #1 and see what's happening - will let you know! We'll also put on a super at the same time as it's full of honey.

    We'll add a frame from the dump hive if there's no eggs in it.

    And my last question (for now!) is how long should we leave the colony in the nuc after collecting it and before transferring it into a full hive?

    Thanks so much for all your help and advice. It's so nice to have people to ask!!
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    do keep us updated.

    a dump hive... how unique.
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Until the 5 frames are drawn out and new bees are emerging.
     
  10. Apicultrice

    Apicultrice New Member

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    So here is the update after this weekend's inspections:
    Number one hive still had no brood, so we took a frame of brood from the dump hive and put that in.
    The ruchette was full of honey and no obvious brood, but we had to transfer them to a hive as we have to return the ruchette to a friend.
    The dump hive is still thriving and even more angry now as we are still replacing the broken frames that the bees had colonized when we were given it and we had to pull out two that were totally stuck together and collapsed which meant a minor massacre in the colony. It wasn't pretty. Also, we'd put on a super a week ago and although there were a few bees in it, they'd done absolutely nothing at all there. We didn't put it back on as we figured they'd need a little time to rebuild what we'd stolen/destroyed.

    So we are hoping that firstly, the number one hive will start to breed soon with the borrowed brood to inspire them; secondly that the ruchette bees will start breeding in their new home - otherwise we'll steal yet more colony from the dump hive to give them a head start; and thirdly, that the dump hive bees will one day forgive us or we'll have to find the queen and kill her, hoping for a different temperament to take over.

    Does this all sound reasonable?
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would not be surprised when all is said and done and you have ceased stirring the girls up in their brood nest if the dump hives does not settle down and start to behave reasonable. A lot of times a queen issue will settle down anyway due to the nature of queens and multiple mating, but any thing a beekeeper does in the brood area is almost always going to make the bee hostile and or defensive.

    You should be able to see the beginning of cell cups pulled into the frame you set into the queenless hive within 1 day. The cells become much more obvious at about day 2 in the process.
     
  12. Apicultrice

    Apicultrice New Member

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    Am very pleased to report that all three hives are now flourishing and laying. Have put supers on #1 and the dump hive. The third colony is just expanding into its new home. Plus, a fourth swarm arrived all on its own into the empty nuc so we have a colony for every member of the family now!

    Thanks again for your advice
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    and thanks for the update...
     
  14. Monie

    Monie New Member

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    Congratulations!! That is wonderful news!!