I hived a small swarm abouth 2 months ago. I had them in a nuc, then bought a hive body, etc. This was about a "soccer ball"-sized swarm, that I assume came from a hollow gum tree(still bees in there) about 50 yards from this swarm. I shook them into the nuc, and left them scent-fanning until the next night. Then I moved the nuc about 500 yards to my house. I now see that I have no queen and have laying workers. What is the best thing to do now? Kill the bees and start over? I cannot find any packages available at this time of year. Someone suggested moving the hive a 30-40 yard distance away, shaking the bees off, moving the hive back and introducing a new queen to the flying workers that return to the hive. I keep hearing mixed messages on the validity of that practice.
My grandfather kept bees and sold A.I. Root supplies for years. He died in 1961, so I never had a chance to work with him,other than watching him work the hives and collect swarms. My experience was gained helping a friend with 400-500 commercial hives for the 1991 honey season. I know just enough to be dangerous!
>Someone suggested moving the hive a 30-40 yard distance away, shaking the bees off, moving the hive back and introducing a new queen to the flying workers that return to the hive. I keep hearing mixed messages on the validity of that practice.
I think it's valid and I think it works sometimes. I also think there are alternatives that work sometimes.
The main difficulty is getting them to accept a queen when they belive they already have one. One thing you can do if you have other hives, is just give them some fresh eggs and see what they do. They may raise themselves a queen. If not, you can try the double screen method. Take a two or three frames of brood from a hive and create a nuc with a queen and then combine it with the laying worker hive. Another is just take your time on the introduction. Put a queen in a cage with all the corks in and leave it for a week or so. Spray the queen and the hive down with some syrup with essential oils or vanilla in it. (I like Honey Bee Healthy for this). If they seem to be taking care of her, pull the cork on the candy end and let them eat it out and relase her.
I'm not against a shakedown. It's easier if it's only a few frames of bees. If it's three deep brood chambers and three supers it's a pretty daunting task to shakedown all of those bees. It can also work, because the laying workers developed from nurse bees and don't know their way to the hive and are not very good at flying.
You definitly need to do SOMETHING.
I put the bees in a new hive body with new foundation. They have drawn a little comb on some old frames that were in the nuc. I have 9 frames in there, 3 of which were old drawn comb from the nuc. They have sealed a little honey, filled some cells with nectar. I probably have less than 1/2 lb of bees left. I suspect they will die off soon from attrition. They are approaching 40 days since they swarmed. I don't think I'd have a problem with shaking them off, since they are so few in number. I might just have to wait until next season. I did find a producer in Statesville, NC who will sell me a package with queen, but I have to pick them up. No shipping and it's about 4.5 hour drive one way.
Wait until next season for what? Shake them down, by all means and just get a queen. A half a pound of bees this time of year has a good chance of building up enough to get through the winter. Just take your time in introducing the queen so they have time to accept her.
Shaking bees off to get rid of laying workers is often suggested because of the belief that laying workers can't fly (or can't fly well). I have observed (as have others) that laying workers can and do fly, and they even exist in a perfectly queenright colony. I've even seen worker lay on the same frame the queen was on in a perfectly normal nuc.
The difficulty with a hive of drone layers is getting them to accept a new queen. Unfortunately I have little advice to offer as I've only had to deal with one, and was not successfully with normal introduction or letting the raise their own from an egg. Perhaps next time I'll try a press in queen cage, and/or spraying her with sugar and honey -b-healthy
If one does the shakedown at at distance, and moves a queenright hive into the place of the former dronelaying hive, will the returning workers accept the queen of the queenright hive ?
They may or the may not accept her. I'd do the newspaper combine instead.