No queen - tons of honey

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Jeem, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Jeem

    Jeem New Member

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    Back in mid-May I gathered a large swarm, hived them on new foundation in two deep boxes. Over the next couple of weeks they completely drew out the bottom box and began laying. For the next few weeks brood was produced and then began hatching. It's been three weeks since I added a super and last inspected and lo and behold I found nothing in the super (unlike my other two hives) and no brood at all. However the two deep boxes are almost completely filled with capped and uncapped honey. I've noticed from outside observation that this hive seemed much weaker than the other two from a sheer numbers perspective but have expected them to catch up once their brood began coming on line. Question now is what to do with a well-supplied hive of queenless bees? Can the bees and their stores simply be added to the other hives? Is there time and is it feasible to re-queen?
     
  2. Beeboy

    Beeboy New Member

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    I would steal some brood from your strong hive and put it in your queenless hive. They will make their own queen.
     

  3. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    As I see it, you have the following options (in reverse order):

    1. Shake the bees out in the middle of your yard and either add the current stores to your hives or harvest what you care to take.
    2. Add frames of eggs in an attempt to allow them to requeen (least risk, still time for her to emerge, breed and get laying consistently.
    3. Requeen. (It is not too late.)

    Either number 2 or 3 should be your first choices.

    Personally, I would purchase a queen and give it a try first (worth risking $20 on a mated queen). If successful, you'd have more time for the bees to reorganize the hive and stores in preparation for winter than in trying to get them to raise their own from eggs.
    Worst case if they reject the queen and they try to sting her through the cage and you'll know you have a "laying worker" hive.

    In this case, save the queen, make a nuc with a couple frames of brood and a couple honey and a shake of bees from a strong hive. There is still enough time for them to built out some for you to overwinter these as a strong nuc, or single deep.

    At the VERY WORST CASE: they kill the purchased queen. (You'd be out $20 or so...)

    If the brood area is honey bound, then when you do introduce a queen cage, exhange at least one frame of honey with a frames of mixed brood from another hive. That way, the new queen will have somewhere to lay quicker and be more likely to be accepted.

    Given that you do not know how long they have been queenless, if they agressively reject the purchased queen (indicating laying workers) a newspaper combine really wouldn't be a good idea at that point (they may kill the other queen instead of combining). Putting the workers out of the house and at a disadvantage would be the best course of action then.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I'm wondering if your bees simply took advantage of a good nectar flow and filled up two deeps with honey rather than build into the super, and maybe they pushed the queen and brood area way down to the bottom. Could be the queen is not laying much right now (is there a dry period or heat wave?) and is prevented from laying her way upward by the wall of honey.

    Many new beekeepers are a little too quick to conclude that a hive is indeed queenless. Sometimes they aren't yet adept at spotting queens or eggs or brood areas. You say: "the two deep boxes are almost completely filled with capped and uncapped honey." So... tell us what then is in the areas that are not filled with honey?
    If I had a hive that filled two whole deeps with honey I wouldn't be shaking them out onto the ground...I'd be breeding from that queen if she was still in there! Just sayin'. :wink:
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a classic Omie snip...
    Many new beekeepers are a little too quick to conclude that a hive is indeed queenless.

    tecumseh:
    and some of us old beekeeper have to remind our selves of the same thing from time to time.
     
  6. reidi_tim

    reidi_tim New Member

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    I think I got that t-shirt for buying a queen I did not need, and had to do a quick split a few months ago.:grin:
     
  7. Jeem

    Jeem New Member

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    Omie may have "quipped" by she may be correct. It has been very hot (90's-100's) and very dry (no measurable precipitation in over 6 weeks) so it is possible that I've failed to notice a bit of brood in the lower part of the bottom deep box. By the time I got down to there I was already fairly convinced of the queen's absence and may have not have noticed some brood mixed in with the capped honey. One other interesting observation was that the capped honey didn't have the nice white new wax look of most other honey I've seen mixed in with the brood. Instead it was brownish and level with the top surface of the drawn comb instead of protruding slightly above it. I'm going to re-inspect that hive before following any of the other excellent advice I've received here. Thanks to all. Jim
     
  8. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I bet if you scrape off the caps of some of that 'capped honey', you'll find larvae.
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    and again I would bet Omie is absolutely correct...