Queen Castle cells vanishing

Discussion in 'Raising Queens' started by Daniel Y, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    On July 4th we placed frames of brood and bees in 12 compartments of queen castles and a frame of brood in each of two 5 frame nucs. On the 9th we went through and checked on cells and counted a total of 47 cells. tonight we went back to remove all cells.

    We startede with the two 5 frame nucs which have both since been moved to 10 frame boxes. We expected to find the original 11 cells. we found a total of 19. This is the good news.

    Teh story changes as we moved on to the queen castle compartments and that is the pourpose of my post. these castles where built by us and I am suspecting we have a problem with them. The are 2 frame deep compartments with a 1/2 inch diameter hole as an entrance. they have two 1 1/2 inch holes drilled in teh bottom covered with screen for ventilation and are kept in a shady location. It has been hot here with temps reaching 100 plus a bit her for the past few days.

    In all we found one compartment that had a quen that had already emerged. we found her and all looks well so far. in the other 11 compartments all the cells where missing or at least some cells where missing from the inspection on the 9th. There where orignially 36 cells found in these 12 compartments. today we may have found a grand total of 12.

    My first suspicion is that the hives are not nearly well ventilated enough but wanted to see if anyone else has any other ideas.
     
  2. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Just wondering--could it be that the first queen emerged and eliminated all her potential competitors while they were still in their cells?
    ​Once they were done in, the bees could have cleaned up the worthless cells.
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip...
    today we may have found a grand total of 12.

    tecumseh...
    it is difficult to understand the wide variety of numbers in your post.... however the above snip I believe would suggest efmesch's above comment is exactly on target.
     
  4. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I read Efmecsh's comment yesterday morning and intended to search each castle compartment. With extracting honey and dealing with the queen cells we do have I did not get to it. But we will be checking them before we introduce and virgin queens.

    Of 31 queen cells 7 emerged yesterday. This means these 7 queens where started from 3 day old larva on the 4th. leaving 24 cells that where started from 2 day old or younger larva or eggs.

    I am actually surprised at the since an visible quality of 5 of these 7 virgin queens given they where started from older larva.

    As for the confusion. Yes it is very confusing. so much so that I have just about found myself in shut down.

    2 queenless 5 frame nucs where given frames of brood on the 4th. on the 9th they where checked and we found a total of 11 queen cells. on the 13th when we went in to remove these queen cells we found 18. an increase of 7 cells.

    In the exact same period of time under the exact same conditions. The queen castle compartments went from 38 cells to 12. a loss of 26 cells. Why the castles would be loosing cells while the nucs are increasing cells has me concerned. mainly that it was to hot for the larva to survive. I agree that queens from earlier attempts to produce queens may have been overlooked.

    I do not think it could be that a queen emerged a day or two early as their is no trace of a cell. they have been completely torn down and filled (we are feeding them sugar water).

    At any rate this disappearance of cells from the Castles has me concerned.

    Do I need to make some changes to my queen castles to prevent the loss of young brood? worker brood seems to have done just fine.

    After Efmecsh's post I have a strong suspicion he is correct. I just need to find those queens.
     
  5. trinibee

    trinibee New Member

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    Daniel, please correct me if i'm wrong. it sounds like you had two frame compartments raise their own queens. If this is correct, then while the bees in these compartments may have been able to start the queen cells, they may not have been able to finish them due to lack of resources whether it be food, young bees for the production of royal jelly or enough bees to cover the brood. It is generally not recommended to have nucs that small raise their own queen...
    On the contrary a five frame nuc with enough bees will make queens from any brood that they consider suitable even if that brood was still egg when the nuc was made up.

    If my assumption is correct i'm concerned that the five frame nucs were transferred into 10 frame boxes before your queens have mated.

    My suggestion is next time you're doing queen have your 5-frame splits develop and seal your cells and then introduce these sealed cells into your queen castle :)
     
  6. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Trinibee, you are correct and I already knew that two frames of bees woudl be lucky to produce one queen. this has been a desperate last ditch attempt to get the 14 queens I need in time for them to be ready for winter.

    My daughter went through the caslte compartments checking for queens yesterday. in all she found 2 more queens. So this woudl not account for all the lost cells. To small of colonies to keep up woudl probably account for the rest. 3 queens where lost while banked. not sure why but we are thinking they where inferior queens and the bees did them in. In all we now have virgin queens for 9 of our 14 start up colonies. We had two emerge yesterday. one not so good and the other the best one we have seen yet.

    20 cells to go and three days for them to emerge. I have not checked on them yet this morning.

    I want to thank everyone for their coments. I am thinking it is method rather than castle design. I am not counting yet but I could end up with twice the number of queens I need.

    I hope to be able to refill all of these compartments next spring to make up 5 frame nucs for sale. I am also looking to join a pool for sending my hives to the Almonds next year. If so I hope to add 20 to the load.
     
  7. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Danny, don't judge your queens before they have been laying for a while. As beekeepers tend to say, "Beauty is only stinger deep" (or something like that :lol: )
    We're with you, hoping for double the number of needed queens. :thumbsup:
     
  8. trinibee

    trinibee New Member

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    Daniel i agree with efmesch on the queens, and wish you success with your next batch of queens :)
     
  9. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    We had 5 more emerge yesterday. Every castle compartment and both nucs now have queens. I am thinking three of those should have mated queens by now. We will give those another week and then inspect for the presence of both the queen and eggs. Fo the queens that emerged during this past week. the first of them should be starting mating flights today. They will not get inspected until the first week in August. Right now I am just trying to figure out how to hold onto as many virgin queens as I can until I confirm these compartments have mated queens.
     
  10. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Don't count on it---if you want to keep them as virgins. A virgin queen kept unmated for too long will never mate and becomes useless.
    Your best bet is to make (using good old beekeeper's ingenuity) some small mating nuclei with a minimum amount of bees and comb and let the girls go out and mate. Remember, you're not interested in creating a viable hive, just in getting the queens mated so that they can be held on to in case of need (or sold if it turns out you don't need them).
    By way of giving an opening thought for one possibility: You could take some small cardboard boxes with a lid (like a small shoebox), populate it with a piece of comb with emerging brood and some food reserves, poke a hole in the side (not bigger than minimum so as to avoid robbing) and introduce the virgin queen or the queen cell as it is about ready to emerge. The virgin doesn't care about the size of her family, she'll go out and do her thing and come back to start laying. Once you know she's mated and started laying, you can put her (them) in a queen bank.
     
  11. trinibee

    trinibee New Member

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    Hey Daniel, you may not want to keep your virgins un-mated for too long. Its said that the quality of the queen i reduced significantly if she's kept un-mated for more than a 9-10 days.
     
  12. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Per the above last couple of posts, we set up 4 mini nucs in addition to the queen castle and 5 frame nucs. this gives us room for at least 18 queens. the mini nuc queens will be backups. That buys us some room. also we have had virgins that where released up to 5 days ago. I will be watchign to se if any of them have gotten mated and if so if we can cage them and bank them to make room for additional virgins to make mating flights. That will be a moment by moment thing and not sure it will even work. My first concenr is 14 colonies to add to our apiary. any additional queens would be nice since they could be sold but that may be beyond our ability at this time.

    We had two more emerge last night. one form my favorite queen and a nice looking queen. the other is no larger than a regualr worker bee so I suspect did not get proper feeding. I simply take this as the results of what was pointed out above. Don't start cells in small populations of bees.

    In all we are wll into surplus numbers of queen . I think we are at 18 that actually have accommodation to mate. and 5 still in cages banked in our last queenless colony. We have 4 more mini nucs I hope we can get set up. after that it is goign to be a lsot cause I think. we will try to save teh best looking of the queens. and I am particularly interesed in any queen that came from my best queen.

    I do want to thank you all for your comments. it has been helpful day to day in figuring out what to do next. I do think it has saved quite a few queens.

    We have one castle compartment that killed the queen we offered them in a cage. when my daughter attempted to give them a second she did not like how the bees where acting toward her. I am thinking we probably have a third queenright castle cell. So one of the total of 18 is in quesiton as to it's status. We have another week before we can start inspecting the first compartments for mated queens. mating flights by the book begin today. It has been very warm and calm here this week so I am suspecting some of them have already completed them.
     
  13. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Well jury is still out on the success or lack of the mini mating nucs. we are still having trouble getting the bees to stay in them. That is strange since there is no problem gettign bees to stay in the castle compartments.

    Yesterday was the last day for queens to emerge. We had 3 more emerge. there where 6 cells that remained. I opened them thsi morning to find all had died at some point. but here is the real surprise.

    I know know for a fact that bees will produce a queen cell from a drone larva. I found one. no mistaking it was in fact a queen cell and no doubt that it was in fact a drone in that cell. Explains why I keep finding quen cells in hive I suspect has no queen and should have laying workers.

    The first of the virgin queens should be making mating flights so over the next few days we will start to se what our success rate at mated queens will look like. We did manage to get 3 additional mini nucs together so we have a very small margin for error at this point. I really do not think it will be enough. with past mating results this year I am worried we will loose well over half of these queens just to mating flights. In the mean time I am just getting my head squared away to not interfere. there is nothing we can accomplish by constantly pearing into the hive and in fact can cause more problems if we do so. At this point the queens either successfuly mate and return or they do not. Hands off is not my strong suit.

    Anyway I know we started far to late to produce quens. we are pretty much working against an uphill grade with jstu abotu everything and that we very well may not achieve our goal. If not I am certain we can get it done early next spring when the bees are in build up mode. I would rather be expanding nucs to full size hives then but hey. I can only do what I can do.

    If I where to attemt this again I woudl start teh queen cells in my 4 largest and strongest hives. then move them to the incubator to emerge and only set up the castles when I had virgin queens to introduce. I in fact woudl have preferred to do that this time as well but you would have to look at the previous history to understand why I did not. all of my hives had been robbed of brood and pestered fairly soundly by the time I came up with this attempt. it was time to leave them alone. This attempt was a last ditch attempt using the only method I have ever had success with. There was a time for learning to graft and rear queens by other means. and then there was time to get busy and get the job done. And this has been the get it done attempt. so far it is working. but by a thread.
     
  14. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I know it's late to ask, but is there any chance you could give us a picture of a drone raised in a queen cell?

    ​For the meanwhile we're waiting to hear how things develop. Sometimes patience is painful.
     
  15. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    We threw it away but are looking for it. IF we find it I will take a photo of it. I will say it is definitely not a malformed queen that appears to be a drone. it has the large eyes fat rounded thorax and size of a perfectly formed drone. it was completely developed but died before emerging. It is also not a case of misidentifacton of a queen cell. it is a cell that was harvested as a queen cell along with dozens of others. has reamind in an incubator ofr a week and never once being considered anything but a queen cell. And every other cell that was identified and harvested in fact contained a queen. not all survived and not all where well developed that did emerge but they where in fact queens. All evidences that we in fact recognize queen cells and do not mistakenly select drone cells. Not proof but I don't thik we made a msitake either. this was a queen cell.

    Okay we found the body in the garbage. you have no idea what yo uowe my daughter for diging through that. there where coffee grounds involved. We got a coupel of photos and she is working on getting them uploaded. they are cell phone photos which for me is like trying to paint with a toothbrush. My camera wore out about a year ago and I cannot afford to replace it. I will not attempt to take photos with a cell phone. I know how to get great photos and it cannot be done with that tool.

    Anyway I have one form the side that is out of focus and will not likely help in recognizing it as a drone. btu this phtoto came out well enough to see the eyes and thorax.
    The king bee 7-20-2013.jpg
     
  16. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    Efmesch, I just notice your parting comment. And no I am not well known for my patience. it gets me int trouble a lot when ti comes to bees. I have seem to have to learn again and again to walk away give it some time and then decide what action to take. I often take action in the moment and cannot think of an instance it ended well. There is always tomorrow.
     
  17. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    First of all, my respectful thanks to your daughter, for her guts, her persistance and her ingenuity. :thumbsup:
    It certainly is an intersting development---definitely drone eyes, the extra long (queen sized) wings are an unusual and interesting develpment.
    If I'm not late this time, I suggest preserving the body in alcohol and finding out from someone on the forum if there is a university with a bee-keeping lab that would be interested in studying the specimen.
     
  18. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    We now have a second confirmed mated and laying queen from our queen castle. We moved her to a 5 frame nuc this morning. We also had another castle compartment that was not queen right. It was the compartment that had the bees removed from for the last 5 frame nuc. they failed to make queen cells at all and have been queenless for about a week or so. So we simply took the 4 fraems from both compartments and placed them in a 5 frame box. That now makes colony 12 that is queen right with a mated queen. 10 more to go.
     
  19. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    We are in that long drawn out waiing period and it is taking all I can do to practice patience. Actually I do have a couple of things to report. We had 4 cmpartments in the queen castles that had older cells in them. of those we hae gotten 3 more mated and layign queens. they have all now been moved to 5 frame nuc. One of the compartments was found queenless and it was combined with the frames from one of the other compartments that was queenright and placed in a 5 frame nuc. no wasted bees this way.

    One of our ful size hives turned out to be queenles so we gae it a virgin queen along with 3 frames of brood.

    In all at this point we have 7 full size lang hives that are queen right. 3 full size langs with virgin queens that have not been confirmed mated and laying yet. 4 5 frame nucs with confirmed and laying queens and 7 queen castle compartments with virgins.

    Now the bad news but not really all that unexpected. if you add up all those hvies it is only 21. Our goal was 22. So far our rate at getting virgins mated has been 3 out of 4. with 10 more to go we can expect to lose 2 or 3 more. I am thinking we may end up with 18 colonies. I am about to come out of my skin wanting to check but know it will not make a difference one way or the other.

    Regardless we are out of time. we have to focus on getting the colonies we do get ready fro winter. I will then spend teh rest of the year getting ready for nest spring which I was not ready for this year at all. What increase we do not get now. we will get next spring.

    In all it has been a very trying ordeal. I have not attempting to do something this difficult in a long time. But I also realize we are attempting something difficult and doing it at the wrong time of the year.
     
  20. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    We did inspections on the hives today. In one we found 3 queen cells. having open compartments in the Queen Castles we used it the way it is intended to be used for the first time. this brings us back up to a total of 26 possible hives. Hive 2 still appears to be queenless so we will be giving them more frames of brood. we have 4 nucs now with confirmed mated queens. we have two additional 10 frame hives that their queens have not yet been confirmed mated. In addition we have one mini mating nuc and 9 queen castle compartments with virgin queens.