queenless hive?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by d.magnitude, May 1, 2010.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Hi,
    I just started my first three hives (from nucs) a few weeks ago. I've been feeding them since, and everything seems to have been going fine, except that it's taking longer than I expected for them to move onto and draw out their new foundation.
    When I checked on them yesterday, Hive #2, which seemed to be the strongest (i.e. most populated), had no evidence of a queen. No eggs, no larvae that I could see. I know I had seen some a week ago. I did spot what appeared to be 5 or 6 supercedure cells on one frame... or could they be swarm cells? They were on the bottom third face of one of the new frames of foundation (which was only drawn down to that point).
    How worried should I be? I hope that in my beginning ignorance, I just missed signs of the queen. Or maybe the queen was somehow damaged, and the colony is now just replacing her (is that reasonable?). Either way, I'm actually very concerned about the situation...

    Advice?

    Thanks, Dan

    p.s.- I'm sure the answer will be "depends", but can anyone speak about how long I should expect a 5-frame nuc to take to fill out a few more frames of foundation in a 10-frame deep?
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    with feeding no matter what the season you would expect to see some signs of the queen (eggs or larvae).

    if??? the queen cells were pulled from a regular worker cell then I would suspect the hive lost the queen (could have been during a beekeeper manipulation or during moving) and they are rearing a queen under emergency conditions.

    just a guess of course.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Let's say, for simplicity, the queen is killed on the first day of the month. The queen cells must be started by the fourth day to be viable. The queen will emerge by the sixteenth. The last of the workers will emerge the twentyfirst. If there is no capped worker cells now, and the queen cells are still closed, they are not viable queens. Unless, you are mistaking capped worker cells for honey. If you are sure there is no brood at all, you need to requeen, combine, or add a frame with eggs from another hive.
     
  4. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks Iddee,
    I actually had a similar thought, but wasn't sure of the math. Unfortunately, I don't know if I would recognize capped worker cells from capped honey... If I took a frame of eggs from another hive and moved it in, and they actually WERE viable queens in the first place, would any harm be done?
    I'm reluctant to move brood from one of my not-so-strong hives, but I don't want to have to purchase a new queen either (especially if I'm just making a mistake and it's not really necessary).


    -Dan
     
  5. rast

    rast New Member

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    "recognize capped worker cells from capped honey"
    The cappings on honey cells are usually lighter in color and flatter than brood cappings. You can find a lot of picts to learn by on the internet.

    "If I took a frame of eggs from another hive and moved it in, and they actually WERE viable queens in the first place, would any harm be done? "
    As long as you don't take the queen with the frame, nope, no harm.
     
  6. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Here's an update if anyone is interested:
    I visited the hives again today. The situation looked about the same. The queen cells were still there, no eggs or larvae to be found; lots of bees though. I think I recognized capped brood present, but still wasn't confident, so I moved a frame with eggs from another hive in. Hopefully, they'll raise an emergency queen (if that's not what they're already doing).

    I don't want be disrupt my girls too much, but I have to say, I enjoyed getting in there to manipulate the hives and do some "hands-on" management. I really do appreciate the advice from everybody. I'm glad I found this forum; it's been a great resource.
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    moving the frame with eggs/young larvae is good insurance*.

    and do keep us updated. it is always interesting to see how these sorts of things work themselves out.

    and good luck.

    *and proof once again of why having more than one hive is an excellent strategy for any serious beginning beekeeper.
     
  8. Ozark Lady

    Ozark Lady New Member

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    Okay, I am new here. But, didn't I read somewhere here, that if the hive is queenless, alot of the workers will go to another hive, that has a queen?
    If that hive is the most populated, shouldn't that mean it has a queen?
    Or if it does not, and in taking some eggs from another hive that does have a queen, during the wait for the new queen to emerge and begin to lay, won't some workers go to the other hive?
    So, a balance should remain?
    I know nothing, just wondering if I am putting together what I am learning correctly.
    Reading and hopefully learning is where I am now.
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    The one lesson you will learn is this:

    The bees do as they please. There are no set rules. Sometimes they will drift to other hives, sometimes they won't. Same with most things they do. They sometimes do, they sometimes don't.

    A very popular saying is "The bees don't read the rule books".
     
  10. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I'm definitely not speaking from experience here, but one thing I have picked up is that it is hard to find a defined set of rules. My best bet as a newbee is probably learn as much as I can about bee behavior and biology (arguably, in the case of bees at least, behavior IS biology) and base my management decisions on that understanding.

    That, and all the sage advice I can get here, of course!

    Thanks again, and I will keep you updated. I'm going to try to keep my nose out of that hive for a week, so I don't disrupt them any more than I already have. I'm beginning to see the advantage of maintaining a nuc or two, in case of situations just like this!
     
  11. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Update:
    It's been a week now and, as of yesterday, nothing much has changed. Still lots of busy bees, the "queen cells" looked the same, and the partial frame of eggs I put in now looks like a partial frame of fat larvae. This hive is starting to stress me out. Since it seemed like it would do no harm (and hopefully some good), I moved in one more frame from a different hive, containing a good number of eggs, larvae, and capped brood.

    Once again, I'm going to try to keep out of there for a while and see if the bees work it out. Do you think it's possible that there was a virgin, or newly mated queen in there that had just not begun laying yet?
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    to come to some answer in regards to your last question typically I lean on the disposition (behavior) of the hive itself.

    when you open the hive 'if' the hive is settled, organized and seems to be going about their business vs jumpy and nervous then I suspect their is a virgin or recently mated queen in the box.

    the existence of the cells themselves will not really tell you if there is a virgin or mated queen in the box. a queen should tear these down when the time is right.

    another clue which requires a bit closer inspection (which I would not encourage you to do at this time since I think your decision to leave the hive alone is quite correct) is just prior to a new queen beginning to lay you will see circular areas in the central brood area that the bees will begin polishing comb. the comb itself will have a low luster sheen but the main visual clue is these areas will be totally devoid of any workers and the bees don't even seem to like walking over these areas.
     
  13. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks, I'll take that as reassurance. This hive has seemed pretty settled as far as I could tell, and has definitely been out collecting nectar and pollen every time I've checked in. I guess I'll just wait and see what happens.

    I've heard of polishing comb before, but I guess I didn't get what that was about. Just cleaning house for the new queen? It sounds like an interesting phenomenon to look out for, but as you said, I'm not going to go poking in there any time soon.

    I hate for a hive to be having problems, but between this and the recent skunk attack (different hive), it's been an interesting first month. Thanks again for the advice, I've definitely been learning a lot.
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    good luck on that hive d.magnitude. I think they and yourself will do just fine.

    ps... after almost 50 years of beekeeping I can tell you that from then to now there has always been something quite interesting going on in those little white boxes. fessin' up.... there has been quite a bit of head scratching along the way.
     
  15. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    update:
    10 days after adding another frame of brood/eggs and still no sign (detectable by me) of a queen. Other than that, the hive seems to be doing just fine, so I'm throwing my hands up and assuming she's in there.

    They did not draw any queen cells out in that last frame, and any queen cells that may have been in there on another frame seem to have been torn down by now. Since this colony was started from a nuc, I think that there might be new brood/eggs in some of the old, black, deep comb that came with the nuc, and I just can't see down there. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

    At any rate, I'm not going to keep feeding this colony frames of brood; so unless it screams out for help, I'm going to let it be. My other 2 hives, by the way, finally seem to be picking up in population. 4.5 weeks after installation, and I just added 2nd hive bodies to each of them today. My girls are growing up. ;)
     
  16. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    When you give up on them is when they will likely take off. Keep checking weekly. We want to know what happens.
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    curious cats got to know!
     
  18. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper New Member

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    For petes sake use a pen lite from your beekeeping equipment box to look inbside those deep dark cells to see eggs or at least milky looking larva.

    I expect to see eggs 25 days after i see a gueen cell even if I don't know when it was built.
    I have got so I can tell how close a cell is to hatching, it is a color thing.

    :mrgreen: Al
     
  19. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Ok, ok. I'll look a little harder next time. Also, I realize that even if a queen did emerge from that first transplanted frame of brood, it's too early to expect to see eggs in there. I would feel better if I just saw the queen herself, but as !I
     
  20. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    oops, as I was saying... :oops:
    I'd feel better if I just saw the queen, but that hive is pretty full of bees, and maybe my eyes aren't sharp enough.