Weak Warre Question
I have one Warre hive (my others are standard 8-frame medium hives). The warre hive survived the winter, but appears very weak. I checked it this afternoon, there are just a few bees (maybe a pound, could be less). They are in two boxes of drawn comb, though appear to be occupying only the top box.
Because this is a Warre hive, it is difficult for me to fully inspect the hive. Without tearing the hive apart, I did see some nectar/honey, but I can't tell if there is any brood. (when I turned the box on its side, no brood was visible so if there is some it would be minimal). The hive is bringing in some pollen, and some say that is evidence of a queen and brood, but others say it isn't.
So, is there anyway to tell if there is a queen? If there is not a queen, or a very poor queen, how do you re-queen a Warre hive?
Re: Weak Warre Question
Take a piece of broodcomb with eggs in it and put it into the Warré hive. Hang it between the combs. If you check it later and find queen cells drawn, like this:
...then you have a queenless hive. You could leave the cells for them raising their new queen or give them a proper queen cell ready to hatch.
Requeening can be done in different ways. In a small hive like you described, I'd simply cut the side attachments of the comb and pull out comb by comb looking for the queen. You can savely lift out the combs attached to the topbars. You need starter strips on every topbar for straight combs to properly lift out the combs.
You can do this early in Spring, because the combs are dry more or less, while in the season combs are drenched in nectar and cutting can get messy if you are not skilled in handling fixed comb.
If I have a weak hive to requeen, I simply put a box with a good queen on it, with combs and a good broodnest. Bees are traitors, they leave the poor queen and desert to/go up to the good queen.
A good way to heal a weak hive in Spring, sometimes you have a good queen and they still got somehow into trouble, is, to put the weak hive on top of a good hive, queen excluder in between.
If the poor queen isn't so poor as you thought, she will draw young bees from the good hive into her broodnest. The extra work force often helps to re-establish a good broodnest. Colony and good queen saved. If the queen is poor, all the bees will desert through the excluder down to the good queen and the hive on top is empty, just the poor queen left back.
It is worth a try to heal the hive on top of another. This works in early spring only. Early spring means, the bees do their first pollen flights and before the first big nectar flow.