Should I order a queen?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by blueathen623, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. blueathen623

    blueathen623 New Member

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    Hello everyone!
    I will try and keep this brief. This is my 2nd year of keeping bees, but my 1st year was not successful, and now it's looking like year 2 isn't going to be great either :(

    I installed a nuc around the first part of May, and the bees have always seemed . . . weird. Odd clusters on the outside, massive bearding underneath to the point of building comb on the screened bottom board, lots of bees just hanging out on the landing board like they're sunbathing (and if that sounds weird, I will take a picture).

    I've never ever been able to spot a queen -- my eyes aren't that great -- so I've always looked for evidence of healthy laying activity.
    Long story short, took a look today because I keep seeing fewer and fewer bees, and yup, almost no evidence of baby bees. And I'm starting to wonder if they've been queenless for a long time, hence the weird behaviour.

    So, my question(s) for the experts:
    1. Should I order a new queen or look for more signs that the bees are preparing their own new queen?
    1b. What are some signs that I should look for besides eggs and cells?
    2. Should I even bother? I know I sound like a negative nancy, but I'm very disheartened and trying to be realistic. I've sunk some serious change into my bees and I really do love my ladies, but I don't seem to be very good at this and I don't want to keep killing bees through my own stupidity.
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    First off welcome to the forum. By joining the forum you will be able to have access to a wealth of knowlege from some of the nicest people on the web. Now about the hive. If they are building comb on the bottom of the screened bottom board. Im willing to bet the queen is there instead of in the hive. Which would lead to the bees bearding heavy. They have no reason to go in the hive body itself
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Very little info there. You've always looked for signs of brood. How often did you look and what did you see?

    Now you see "almost" no sign. What little sign do you see? Small larva? Large larva? capped brood? eggs? more than one egg per cell? eggs on side of cell? One egg each in bottom center of cell?

    How often have you opened the hive since you have had it?
    Do they have empty cells or foundation to draw out?

    Don't get discouraged. We can help you maintain healthy bees, but we need much more info first.
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hello, and welcome to our forum:

    I have to agree, there is more information needed to base any kind of a diagnosis on.
    Like Iddee says, don't get discouraged.
    Perhaps the best advice I could offer would be to find a mentor, a local beekeeper who would be willing to assist you. Most keeps are only too willing to help another when the need arises. Our goals are common!
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    riverrat writes
    Now about the hive. If they are building comb on the bottom of the screened bottom board. Im willing to bet the queen is there instead of in the hive. Which would lead to the bees bearding heavy. They have no reason to go in the hive body itself

    tecumseh:
    that would be my guess also. someway the queen got stuck on the outside of the box and never went inside. I have seen this myself once or twice on existing hives when I inadvertently knock the queen out unto the ground and when she flew or climbed back up she decided to stay outside rather than returning to the inside of the hive. if they are still making comb on the outside of the hive I would look there for signs of eggs or brood.
     
  6. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    That was my first thought also, queen on the outside of the hive.

    Have you actually looked at the combs on the bottom board?

    If the combs are just small, I would pull the bottom board out and set the hive body back down in the same spot (minus the bottom board). Pull the top off also and then you can cut the wild combs of and look for the queen, then shake the bees into the hive. After you are done replace the lid and put your bottom board back. Look close at the wax combs you just cut off for eggs, get the sun at your back and let it shine down into the cells. Hopefully you found the queen though.

    It would be very helpful to have a mentor go through them with you, a little hands on teaching goes a looong way.

    Good luck with them and let us know what you find.