very good question.
i don't really 'know' if it is queenless.
the rationale for it being queenless is:
1. it was targeted as weak by the ursupers.
2. it's possible the usurpers killed the existing queen
3. no brood, (but that may be normal for this time of year).
4. continued fighting to the death.
the rationale for having a queen is:
1. by all appearances, this hive was thriving, adding weight, and didn't look any different than my other 17 hives up until the attempted take over.
so, to me, it's a split decision, with the preponderance of the evidence favoring queenlessness.
i marked the new queen to make her easier to spot. my plan is to check back in a week or so to see if she is still there. since there is no sign of a laying worker, i'll assume that if i don't see her, the original queen probably still reigns, but i still have the option to combine. if i do see her then i'll know i made the right call.
went out to check hive 3 on my lunch break. happily, i noticed that the hive was much quieter today than is has been. i gently lifted the top cover up, checking to see if the new queen, if released yet, was there, and she was not.
the yard as whole is getting quieter as well. i am still seeing a few of the dark workers on some of the landing boards, nasanoving, i guess in an attempt to call in the scattered rest. i hive tooled them.
i am also using my perforated sheet metal to reduce the entrances on the 'noisy' hives to 1 or 2 bees, while providing for some air flow (i found that the plastic push pins make this job quick and easy).
it was 82 degrees in the beeyard today, maybe 'indian summer' ace?
just got off the phone with my state apiarist. he want me to mail him the sample of worker bees i have preserved in alcohol.
interesting, these small, late summer swarms have been happening all over the state, many more this year than most years. the current thinking is that we have had a longer than usual season, with spring starting early, and fall coming late.
so far, no ahb found.
Squarepeg, what you have described is something I have seen many times. It is a result of a fall supersedure attempt. What the bees will do is raise 2 or 3 new queens during the fall goldenrod nectarflow. The stimulation of an unusually heavy flow will often trigger swarming if more than one new queen is available. The swarm attempt is always with a virgin queen in my experience. The bees form a very small cluster usually on the side of the colony they came from but sometimes on a colony next door. There is usually a second or third queen in the hive that will eventually mate and start to lay. I would caution you to check carefully for the new queen you installed, there is a very good chance she was put in on top of a virgin that is just ready to start laying.
I might add that when I have had this happen, there was usually something else wrong inside the colony. I have always seen evidence of either a queen failure or signs of tracheal mites and/or varroa mites in colonies that do this. I have never observed these small swarms to attempt to usurp a colony and I doubt that was the actual purpose of the small swarm you found.
very interesting dar.
oops, that got posted before i got finished.
yes, that's very interesting. i assumed it was attempted usurpation because the fighting was really intense. at the end, i probably collected about 3-4 hundred bees, and there were many more that i did not collect. the first morning after, the entrance was completely clogged with bees on the inside.
as i posted, we have seen several of these small swarms around, but none have attempted to take over another hive.
also, i considered the possibility there might be a queen in there, but went ahead with the new queen, mostly because the invading bees seemed to think it was weak.
the queen i collected on the ground was pretty small, could have been a virgin.
i believe it is exactly as you describe, fall supercedure on the goldenrod flow. my concern is that the new queens haven't had a lot of drones around to mate with. i actually haven't seen one in a long time.
i would have liked to have done a more thorough inspection, but it has been hard to keep the hives open for too long.
prior to this, 17 out of my 18 hives were inspected, and found to have good brood and stores. this was the last one to get inspected.
sincere thanks for your reply.
i have been considering the points that fusion power has made, and have come up with another possible scenario for what i observed.
this colony was a swarm caught in april. i have read that swarms will oftentime supercede their queens once they start building up.
what if the colony superceded their queen, but she didn't get mated properly, and the hive got weak.
could it be that what was happening was outright robbing, and the queen i found on the ground was the poorly mated supercedure queen, that left the hive when the robbing started?
just did a walk through the yard, all is quiet. foraging has all but stopped, and we are supposed to get our first frost in a week or so.
it's been 48 hours, and no sign of the new queen dead on the ground, or trapped above the inner cover.
i'll check tomorrow and see if she's been released.
checked the cage today, and the new queen is still in it, dead.
so it looks like they have, or least think they have, a queen already.
hate to waste a good queen, and $20, but at least i have a little more confidence with this hive going into winter.
btw, the state apiarist has asked me to mail the sample of bees, they are going to check wing morphology on them for ahb.
the state apiarist came by today to pick up the samples.
he told me about some bees he caught in a swarm trap this summer, that was placed near huntsville international airport.
wing morphology on the swarm was 99% positive for ahb. they are now waiting for dna testing for 100% confirmation.
he said that they have caught other swarms in the state that were positive on wing morphology, but negative on dna testing.
The wing morphology thing is way overplayed. If you read the research upon which the method is based (I think it is on beesource), you will see that it requires a sample of the native, non-AHB population in order to calibrate the system. Of course, there is no single "native population" in the U.S., certainly not anywhere where bees are kept....and where they might exist (AMM populations in isolated areas), I don't think anyone ever did a baseline calibration with them.
interesting. i'm not sure what they are using for baseline at the dept. of ag. here in alabama.
but being in the lower tier of states, and with the concern about ahb spreading up from the coast, they have been actively collecting samples.
so far, i don't believe any have been identified in the state, with the closest ones identified in south georgia, just north of the florida panhandle.