Well developed NUC just lost queen.

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by reef10, Jun 9, 2012.

  1. reef10

    reef10 New Member

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    I have started beekeeping this year with 2 nucs. One of the nucs lost it queen probably the last time I opened it which was 4 days ago. They have started several queens which at this point have not been capped so they are less than 5 days old. This was a 4 frame nuc that I bought 6 weeks ago. I just put the second deep on the other nuc bought at the same time and was planning to do it to this hive today. The question is what should I do to manage this? I could let them sort it out themselves which would make getting them up to power for winter a big challenge. Or I could make some small mating nucs (1 or 2 frame) for the excess queens they are raising. The plan would be to have several small nucs donating frames of capped brood to the main hive or possibily combining the small nucs at the end of the year to make larger hives. Maybe even trying to raise the nucs and overwinter them. I am definitely leaning toward robbing at least a couple of frames as it seems like it give me more options if things don't go smoothly. Is there anything that I am over looking as far as options go?
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Sounds like you have it covered quite well.
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Hi reef10 :hi:

    Welcome to our friendly forum, bees and fun are practised here,
    I don't know that I would be looking to break down nucs that were purchased only 6 weeks ago. I would be inclined to let them be and perhaps give the smaller of the 2, a frame or 2 of brood from the stronger one, after they get going.
    Nucs have all they can do just to build up in their first year, maybe giving up a small amount of honey as a bonus. I wouldn't be inclined to ask more of them at this point.
     
  4. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Welcome to the forum reef10. Like iddee said-sounds like you got it pretty well covered.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Reef, you should read up on various little things you can do to help prevent losing or damaging the queen whenever you go into your hive. It will improve your odds.
     
  6. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    It sounds like they are getting to be 8 frames or so would make several good sized nucs. I hived a 4 frame nuc last summer on June 18 and it gave us a medium of honey on Labor day and overwintered well. Granted that is starting queenright and yours will lose near a month before they have a queen laying. The worst case you could recombine later and have a spare queen. If you dont split you will have just one virgin fly to mate and that is not 100% either. If you are simply looking to make honey it would probably be better as Perrybee says or try to find a mated queen replacement. It is easier to make decisions once you have almost more bees than you want or have equipment for. Things are not so close to the heart then!

    Good Luck either way!
     
  7. reef10

    reef10 New Member

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    Crofter you are correct it is about 8 frames. They are currently packing honey in every frame. I have queen cells on several frames. My thought for making a nuc is a single frame with a queen cell that has honey out. I could also cut the queen cells out like in the fat bee man videos. (Can you cut through duraglit?) I don't have more bees than equipment so I am planning more intensive management than normal. For example I believe that I will need to feed the nucs and maybe the hive for a long while. I am actually still feeding the hive and they are taking it. I have mostly ruled out honey for the first year for both hives as that was what a lot of the things I have been reading said. 1st year is to get them through the winter. We have fairly mild winters here. It is rare that it gets below 20 degrees. What is the smallest nuc that I could make? If I had just one frame with queen cell, honey stores, and nurse bees, would that be enough? In looking at the time line anything I do will have to be this week as we are going on a 1 week vacation. The latest that I can make the nuc is about 1 day before the queen cells get capped. The first queens will most likely be hatched the day I get back. Does this change what I should do? Mind you these date could be off by a few days as I am counting the day of the first inspection as the start date but it could be 2-3 days later. First inspection was 6/6 where they had eggs. Second inspection where queen was missing is 6/9 with several queen cells.

    Omie:
    I have not read anything specific about inspecting a hive to reduce the chance of hurting the queen. What kinds of things are you thinking about. When they were just 4 frames I could pull the empties out and that would give me room to slide a frame out to check. Now that they are fuller getting that first frame out is difficult. These are also new world Carnoila bees and they have glued everything together. I see videos of people grabbing a frame and just pulling it out. In my hive I have to pry it loose. Is that normal? What can I do differently? I am guessing I killed the queen on inspection. I don't actually look for the queen once I see eggs and get a feel for how much room that still have to fill I close it up.
     
  8. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    You are in a much warmer climate than I am so the low number of frames may work. The lower their numbers though the more vulnerable to pests and robbing. Your forced schedule makes them queenless for quite a long time which is probably not a plus to a very small nuc. A mated queen with a hand full of bees is probably better chances. Have not cut cells off plastic. If you have cells on two different frames that might be a good number to split for.
    I see it often to "feed, feed, feed" but like drill baby, drill I think it needs watching as the bees can wet every empty cell and leave no place for the queen to lay. That can be a problem if you are trying to bring the numbers up. OK if there is no flow and the queen needs stimulation to lay.
     
  9. reef10

    reef10 New Member

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    Tomorrow is vacation so today I did what I could for the hive. As I worked through the hive it has 8 frames as 2 were not drawn. In preperation for today I made a 5 frame nuc and split it into 2 sections. Each section has space for 2 frames and a separate inner feeder. I typically use inverted mason jars on the inner cover. 2 of the frames had honey stores everywhere (due to the queen being gone) some remaining capped worker brood and several capped queen cells on each board. As these boards were fair heavy I put one frame into each side with a frame of new foundation. I am hoping they will raise a queen and I can move them to a regular nuc after the new queen starts to lay. The hive still has 2 frames of capped brood and several frames with a mix of stuff. I hope I have split this to give the best chance of a good outcome. There are queen cells EVERYWHERE. I would bet that I had 20 cells spread across several frames and more that I did not take the time to look for because I did not want to disturb the bees too much. I don't see how anybody could go through a hive and kill all the cells to introduce a new queen. The vast majority of the queens were capped.

    This is interesting, about a week before I noticed the queen was KIA I added a foundation less frame in the middle to see how they would do drawing it out. It was full of queen cells. These were easily the biggest and best formed queen cells. The wax was new and very easy for them to move around to accommodate the queens. To just make a single queen or 2 I think this may be a good way to go.

    queens.jpg

    Very cool day but way more advanced than I wanted to be after only a month of owning bees.
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Reef,
    A couple of things will help improve your chances of not hurting or losing the queen during inspection...
    1) take your hive tool and go along the top of both ends of each frame and just break the seal between each pair of frames before you do anything else. Then carefully and slowly remove one outer most frame, check it to try to see if the queen in on it, and put it aside, preferably hanging on a frame holder. The queen is least often on an outermost frame.
    2) once you have the space from the removed frame, slide the next frames over one at a time and lift them in the space so that you are not rolling bees against each other while lifting the frame.
    3) while inspecting each frame, hold it over the open brood box, not away from the box over the grass. Queens are heavy and they will sometimes fall off the frame while you are holding it up and turning it. You may not notice her falling into the grass and then she's gone. If she falls back into the hive it's more likely ok.
    4) when you are lifting off a brood box and putting it to the side to inspect the brood box below it, place the telescoping cover laid on the ground upside down, and put the upper box on this, slightly angled, so that most of the brood box is over the cover, not placed on the grass. Placing your brood box on the ground or grass can crush some of the bees hanging from the frame bottoms (including the queen). Also if the queen falls or crawls off the frames, you'll have a good chance of finding her in the telesc. cover, rather than having her crawling around lost on the ground.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I will add a couple of other items to Omie's list...

    5) when you first remove the cover inspect the surface to make certain the queen isn't there prior to setting this down.

    6) make a habit of lifting frames straight upward when removing and straight down when putting them back in their place.

    7) marking queens is generally a plus in spotting queens which should also translate into taking more care when you spot the frame she is on.

    8) one of those frame holder might be a good thing for some folks.


    ps.... I suspect a lot of queens are lost by not following Omie's rule number 3.
     
  12. reef10

    reef10 New Member

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    So I was able to check the mating NUCs as I am in the middle of the time frame for finding eggs. This was a 5 frame that I split in half quickly with foam board. One half has eggs and one half does not (and its MEAN). So now I have a question about getting one side out and putting it into a regular nuc. How do I do that? When I pull the frames out I will leave behind the bees stuck to the walls. I can set the entrance up like a trap out with the new home's entrance right next to it so that foragers can find the new home. How do you move the nurses that are on the walls out? I still have some time so I am still hopeful that I will have queens everywhere. I have not even looked into the main hive but they are peaceful. Once they are in separate boxes I can combine with newspaper if one turns out not to have a queen. Just seems like more managment options in separate hardware.
     
  13. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    If you have any colony of bees (large or small) that has no queen and no eggs, they will remain queenless unless you give them a new queen, a queen cell, or a frame with fresh eggs from another hive.
    Am i to understand that you took a 5 frame nuc and put a divider board in the middle of it and expect to make two new hives from it now? Unless you add frames of bees, honey, and brood from a big hive to help them, the odds don't look good. The nuc half with no queen is probably too small to survive without resources from a larger donor hive. You basically just have a couple frames of bees in it and nothing else.
     
  14. reef10

    reef10 New Member

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    No not quite. This was a NUC that was up to about 8 or 9 frames when it lost its queen. I left most of the hive to raise a new queen. However, they started like 30 queen cells spread out across several frames. I took a single frame with bees, brood, stores, and several capped queen cells to put into each half of the mating NUC. This small mating NUC is the one that is split into two 2 frame sections. This was not ideal but I was headed out of town on vacation. According to the timeline from when the queens were started they should be in the middle of their mating flights. One side has eggs indicating that the queen is mated and moving forward. The other side does not have eggs yet so they may have a virgin queen who should start laying in a few more days. The calendar really says to check them some time this upcoming weekend. If it turns out not to be successful with raising its queen I will recombine them. I can not do this with them in the same box because I think they will kill each other. I was trying to triple my chances of getting a good queen due to a hive losing its original queen.

    The basic question is how do I pull the frames and put them in a new box without leaving any bees behind in the old box. I can't shake the old into the new because they have a separate colony in the other half. Do people scrape them out? Is there some cool trick that can get them? The problem is the same as trying to fill a NUC box from one section of a queen castle.
     
  15. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Move the frames, set the new box next to the nuc, and leave the nuc top off that half. The bees in the empty half with no top will migrate on their own. The next day, you van move the new box away.