No eggs/brood?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tyro, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    We are just out of winter here in NE Oklahoma. I have 8 hives of 12 survive. Four are strong and doing well. The other four vary from probably fine (a single I overwintered that has three good frames of bees/brood now) to maybe/maybe not (a hive with a single frame and a hand sized patch of eggs).

    One of these not so fine hives though is different - it is full of bees (8 deep frames of bees) but there are no eggs/brood. I also haven't seen the queen. To be fair, she has always been VERY shy and hard to find. The bees are bringing in a TON of pollen and nectar.

    In my first inspection last week, I guessed that they went queenless over the winter. So, I added a couple of frames of brood from my other hives. The didn't draw any queen cells. I have checked for signs of laying workers and haven't found any.

    All of my other hives (even the really weak ones) have started up brood production. Any ideas as to what is happening?

    Thanks.

    Mike
     
  2. danl

    danl New Member

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    How old is the queen you had in there. Has she been exhausted? Although I would think you would have some supersedeure cells.
     

  3. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    She is no older than 2 years. I would have thought that they would have at least pulled out a cell from the brood I gave them, but they haven't yet. Along those lines, does anyone know of a source for an early queen. I am going to be checking for cells again in a day or two. If I know that I can get a queen - I would be tempted to pinch her if I see her. I would hate to lose a hive that is so good in all the other aspects for lack of a queen.
     
  4. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    It sounds like you're looking at a post-swarm hive. Seems too early for that, but maybe that's 'cause I'm in Indiana.

    The symptoms you described - broodless, no sign of queen, bees not interested in making a queen from the eggs you gave them, are I would expect to see after a swarm. The old queen stopped laying, swarm left, virgin queen emerges, workers tear down swarm cells, new queen either hasn't mated yet, or hasn't started laying.
     
  5. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Indy,

    That makes sense, but it is way too early for swarms here (or should be). I am going to keep an eye on it though and keep the 'post-swarm' idea in mind next time I check. Thanks!

    MIke
     
  6. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    If they didn't try to make cells with the new frames you probably have a queen in the hive. Maybe slow cranking up. I'd give them a frame of eggs again in a week.
     
  7. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    camero7,
    That is what I am hoping. I did decide to keep giving them a frame of brood until I can figure out what is going on.

    Thanks

    Mike
     
  8. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    what ya might do is pull a frame of eggs and a few of food and put in a small hive and start the cells there then combine with the hive you think queenless, I have had a few hives that no matter how many times I give them brood they wont pull cells even when I know they dont have a queen, if they truly dont have a queen they wont destroy the cells, but do you have drones flying yet?
     
  9. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    We don't have drones flying yet, but I have a couple of hives pulling drone comb though - so probably soon.

    Interesting though - I got into the hive this weekend to check and found a few eggs and fresh drone comb. Also, they haven't pulled any queen cells on the frames that I have given them. I am beginning to suspect that the queen is in there, but is spent or a drone layer. All eggs were singles, so no laying workers.

    I have queens ordered for late April. I can't seem to find a source of queens any earlier, so my plan is to continue supplementing them weekly with a frame of brood. If/when I see the queen, I will pinch her. Then they will either pull a queen or I will have one coming.

    Any thoughts on that plan (or a source of queens that could come this week?).
     
  10. Ray

    Ray Member

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    IMO Let the hive go. IF the queen's a drone layer, and you've been adding frames, and the worker aren't making queens cells, it's a lost cause.
    ​Save your efforts for your surviving hives.
    C.C.Miller thought the best way to raise bees was to prop up the best hives and then think about the weak ones.
     
  11. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    I can certainly appreciate that approach (and have done it in the past). Normally, with a weak hive, that is exactly what I would do. However, this is a full hive of bees (7-8 frames of bees at least when it came out of winter). There is value to a hive of that strength and, if it were July and this happened - there would be no doubt about what to do - buy a queen. So, I think I am going to hang in there with it a bit longer.

    I have 5 strong hives (3 are already supered - or flow happens early here), so a frame a week from one of them on a rotational basis probably won't set any of them back too badly until I can get a queen. Shoot, they are bringing in so much nectar right now that I might just super them!
     
  12. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    if there is a weak queen in the hive leave her, dont kill her, when the new queen comes then replace but if she is laying a few eggs still its enough to prevent them from going drone layer workers, if they raise a queen at this point she will not work out, drones take alot longer to be ready for mating then queens
     
  13. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Went back into the hive yesterday. Last time I put a frame of eggs in was about 7 days ago - so I didn't expect to see any eggs. Lo and behold, there were a few. Typically, there were eggs around the margins of the brood areas on the frames I put in in the past. So, it looks like the hive has a queen, but she is in the process of failing.

    I also found that another one of the hives had no eggs and both swarm and supercedure cells. It was odd - because they had plenty of room. There was one hatched queen cell, but the rest were still capped. I moved a couple of frames with the q-cells to my queen castle, left a couple in the hive - just in case they hadn't left yet, perhaps I could have headed them off. Drones are in the big hives now, so mating should be ok.

    I have three other hives that are MUCH bigger and aren't showing any signs of swarming. They were so big, I made splits from each of them in order to prevent swarming.

    Looks like the season is picking up steam here.

    Mike