Tons of bees but no queen cells!

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Tia, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Went into my hives today with 2 newbees with the intention of splitting 3 of them. The hives are soooooo strong and populated, it's unbelieveable! I actually robbed a box of honey off hive #1 and gave them an empty brood box because the population is so crowded that the girls are actually jammed into the slatted rack as well as the boxes! Problem is, we found only one queen cell--and that was a supercedure cell. Don't know why that hive wants to supercede their queen because she's laying beautifully, nice and tight. Saw larva and eggs as well. We wound up giving that cell to the weakest of the 4 hives who, last time I went in (about 2 weeks ago), had a queen and the newbees with me that time were so excited to see her! I think the queen met her end somehow because now there are no worker cells, larva or eggs. All that's in there are drone cells, most of which were in the process of hatching, so since it takes 21 days for a worker to hatch and 24 for a drone, the queen must've died about 3 days ago, right? Anyway, we put the queen cell in there and the workers started tending to it right away. It was not defensive, quite thankful and happy to see a chance to survive. Hoping I did right there.

    Now as for the other three boxes who are jam packed, I always let the girls raise their own queens and it's obvious these 3 boxes have very productive queens because all 3 hives have lots of capped brood, larva and eggs, all in the classic tight circle that a good queen lays. Plenty of pollen, nectar and capped honey as well. They are extremely crowded and I don't know what to do. I don't want to buy queens. Should I just wait a while and check for queen cells again? Should I give them another box so they can spread out? Bet I get lots of answers to this one.

    One good thing about having such crowded hives: we saw noSHB and only 2 mites on one drone pupa.
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Add boxes, boxes, and more boxes. Only one box of foundation at a time, tho. You can add 2 or 3 if they are drawn comb. I would put the added box below the top box.
     

  3. charmd2

    charmd2 New Member

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    Are you wanting to split them before the honey flow? Or were you just planning a split if they were getting ready to swarm? It changes the stragedy.
     
  4. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Iddee, I added a box of drawn comb between the top and second box to the one I stole the box of honey from, but not to the others. I figured if I gave them enough room, they wouldn't want to swarm and I do want them to make queen cells so that I can split these hives. So far as my strategy, I just want queen cells so I can split these hives. They're just way too huge. Must have over 80,000 bees per box. Normally, I use Walt Wright's checkerboarding and they don't swarm at all, but these boxes are so big I want to reduce the size just for ease of working. I suppose I could just split the boxes and after 48 hrs when the queenless half realizes it's queenless, they could make a queen cell out of an egg in their half of the hive, or I could give them a frame of eggs after the 48 hrs, but I know that doesn't always work and I feel much more comfortable with giving them a queen cell.

    Do you have any idea why, at this time of year, three strong boxes like this would not produce even one queen cell?
     
  5. charmd2

    charmd2 New Member

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    I would bet in a few weeks they will have them. Check again next week. :)
     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Pull the queen and 3 frames of brood from one of them and make a nuc. Be sure you leave a frame of eggs in the main hive. Go in 7 to 9 days later and pull your queen cells.
    I don't know why they don't swarm, but if you could figure out what you did to stop them from swarming, you could make a million bucks.
     
  7. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    I thought of making a nuc, but how the heck do I find a queen in a mob like this? I'm telling you seriously there's at least twice as many bees as is normal in all of these hives! I know that sooner or later, I'll have to go in and try to find the queen because even if I wait for queen cells, when I make the split, it's the queen I have to move, not the cells! My combines last fall seem to have worked too well!

    Iddee, I know what you mean about the million bucks and the swarm thing! You made me laugh with that statement. I thought maybe because of this weird weather they might not have gone into swarm mode yet, but I see lots of others talking about queen cells and swarms. Really strange.
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    When you find the frames with eggs, you will find her. If not, just make a split with eggs in both boxes. 7 days later you will have capped cells in one of them.
     
  9. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Find eggs and the queen will be there--I know that trick, Iddee, and searched around every egg group I found (and there were a lot of egg groups!). Three of us looking and no dice. So I'll be pleased to use your alternative method. . .split the eggs between the boxes and let them figure it out! Thanks! I know I can always count on you.
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    finding a queen in very populated hives... might I suggest??? shake or drive the bees thru an excluder as you might in making up a package. you may do this one frame at a time or one box at a time.

    my strategy would mimic Iddee's post #6.
     
  11. Tia

    Tia New Member

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    Gotcha tecumseh. Thanks to you and Iddee. Invaluable sources of info!
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    charmd2 writes:
    I would bet in a few weeks they will have them.

    tecumseh:
    Biology of the Honey Bee (Wilson) suggest a hive begins preparation for swarming 30 days prior to the event. I think charmd is right on target here.