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  1. #1
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    Nov 2003
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    Last weekend I found that one of my hives had no eggs/larva/brood, but I did find a queen and a supercedure cell. One evening midweek I noticed a ball of bees at the base of the hive stand. The following morning they were still there, but I couldn't investigate because I had to get to work. When I got home from work they were gone. This weekend the bees seemed really jumpy and there still were no eggs/larva/brood. The original supercedure cell was gone and there were four small, opened supercedure cells in a row on one side of one frame. I'm doubtful any of these cells were successful and am guessing I've got no queen, so Willbanks is sending me a new one. Hope I did the right thing.

  2. #2
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    >One evening midweek I noticed a ball of bees at the base of the hive stand.


    Sounds like a mating flight. Were there noticably less bees after that or about the same? If the same I'd say it was a mating flight. If less maybe some swarmed?

    >This weekend the bees seemed really jumpy and there still were no eggs/larva/brood. The original supercedure cell was gone and there were four small, opened supercedure cells in a row on one side of one frame. I'm doubtful any of these cells were successful and am guessing I've got no queen, so Willbanks is sending me a new one. Hope I did the right thing.

    My best guess is you have a virgin queen now that hasn't started laying yet and that they will reject your new queen. Why are you doubtful that those cells "were sucessful"? I wouldn't expect to see any eggs for a week to ten days and no noticable larvae until several days after that.

    You have a couple of more hives don't you? Try putting a frame of eggs in the broodless hive and if they start a queen cell right away, introduce the queen. If not, do a split with a couple of frames of brood from each of your other hives and put the new queen in the split.

  3. #3
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    <My best guess is you have a virgin queen now that hasn't started laying yet and that they will reject your new queen.> Shucks! I should've followed my instinct--I thought I might have a virgin queen--but instead I called a beekeeper friend who recommended I order a queen.

    <Sounds like a mating flight. Were there noticably less bees after that or about the same? If the same I'd say it was a mating flight. If less maybe some swarmed?>
    It doesn't look like I lost any bees, but I thought if it was an attempt at a mating flight but she was at the base of the stand she was having trouble and that she wasn't a good queen!

    <Why are you doubtful that those cells "were sucessful"? I wouldn't expect to see any eggs for a week to ten days and no noticable larvae until several days after that.> I thought of the timing, thanks to all the information you've posted in that regard, but the supercedure cells were so small--not the "classic peanut"--that I didn't think they could produce viable queens.

    <Try putting a frame of eggs in the broodless hive and if they start a queen cell right away, introduce the queen. If not, do a split with a couple of frames of brood from each of your other hives and put the new queen in the split.> My biggest problem is that work gets in my way. <If they start a queen cell right away> What is "right away"? One day? Two days? Wilbanks said the new queen should be here in two or three days and I'm going to take off work to introduce her. I don't get home from work until about 5 pm. Do you think that's too late in the day for me to put in a frame of eggs when I get home tonight? It's been very warm here and they're still flying at that time. My other problem is I have a real problem spotting eggs!

  4. #4
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    >Shucks! I should've followed my instinct--I thought I might have a virgin queen--but instead I called a beekeeper friend who recommended I order a queen.

    There is large delay from queen emergence to laying eggs. Typically 12 days if the weather cooperates.

    >It doesn't look like I lost any bees, but I thought if it was an attempt at a mating flight but she was at the base of the stand she was having trouble and that she wasn't a good queen!

    That just sounds like a typical mating flight. They all cluster out there to see her off, I guess.

    >I thought of the timing, thanks to all the information you've posted in that regard, but the supercedure cells were so small--not the "classic peanut"--that I didn't think they could produce viable queens.

    An "emergency" queen is often small. If they had trouble finding the right age larvae they might be small. I wouldn't read too much into that. Are they pointed down and not straight out? I saw a queen cell yesterday that was three inches long and several that were less than 1/2".

    >My biggest problem is that work gets in my way.

    I understand that.

    >What is "right away"? One day? Two days?

    There should be a queen cell within two days. You may see one after one. You will see a CAPPED one in five.

    >Wilbanks said the new queen should be here in two or three days and I'm going to take off work to introduce her. I don't get home from work until about 5 pm. Do you think that's too late in the day for me to put in a frame of eggs when I get home tonight?

    Not at all too late.

    >It's been very warm here and they're still flying at that time. My other problem is I have a real problem spotting eggs!

    Do you have reading glasses? I'd recommend them for looking for eggs. If you need them to read you will need them to find eggs. I'm near sighted so I don't need reading glasses but I can't see them with my distance glasses. I just look over the tops of my glasses to see them.

  5. #5
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    <Do you have reading glasses? I'd recommend them for looking for eggs. If you need them to read you will need them to find eggs. I'm near sighted so I don't need reading glasses but I can't see them with my distance glasses. I just look over the tops of my glasses to see them.> No, I don't, but I'm getting there--I use a magnifying glass to try to find the eggs. I sometimes confuse eggs with the reflection in the nectar--they both appear as little white dots! If I do this at 5 pm, I'll be doing it in the shade--will that make it easier or harder?



  6. #6
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    Mar 2004
    Location
    Arnold, MD USA
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    >The original supercedure cell was gone and there were four small, opened supercedure cells in a row on one side of one frame.

    I opened up one of my hives this weekend and was lucky enough to find a newly emerged queen. She was chewing holes in 4 or 5 capped supercedure cells clustered along one frame. There were plenty of workers there helping her out. I was pretty excited to witness it. Is it possible the cells you found were in the process demolition?

  7. #7
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    I would think the shade would make it harder. I find holding it up to sun with it behind the frame sometimes helps. Back light is always a helpful thing.

  8. #8
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    Well, I ran home from work and fired up my smoker and went in. The four cells were definitely under deconstruction this time--there were bees going up inside the cells and chewing them apart. I rechecked the hive and still found no signs of progeny or queen. So I took a frame from a swarm I hived last month that's going great guns. I still was unable to find eggs. The two center frames were full of capped brood, the next to the outside right frame had capped brood and larvae and the next (3rd frame from right had capped brood, larva & pupa. There were also some "empty" (so far as I could tell) cells that may have had eggs, so on a chance I took that one & put it in the "queenless" hive. When my new queen arrives, I'm hoping my friend can go in with me and help me with my appraisal of the situation and whether I should introduce the purchased queen or use her for a split. I don't usually intrude on my girls so radically--usually looking around, finding brood and closing up--and I was really surprised how well they tolerated having almost all their frames manipulated! Got head butted a few times, but no great conflagration like I expected! I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for all your help.

  9. #9
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    Most frames of brood have an egg somwhere on them, but it is nice if you can be sure. It will probably work fine.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the reassurance; I'm a little worried, but we'll see.

  11. #11
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    Got my new queen today and ran home to install her. In the company of my beekeeping friend (27 years' experience), we went into the hive to see if we could find a new queen/eggs. The frame of brood I had put in early this week and some other frames had some eggs, but on the "introduced" frame and one or two other frames, there were some cells with two or three eggs. There were also queen cells with multiple eggs. But we also found nice, tight areas of single laid eggs on several of the other frames. It does not follow the "laying workers" pattern where the egg laying is spotty--they were nice tight groupings wherever there was available space--but the multiple eggs and the fact that we couldn't definitively find a queen (we searched for an hour in a not-so-populous hive)left us puzzled. We decided to close up and come back in four days to see if we can find more eggs at that time. We found one "lady" who may be a queen, but she was pretty small and only one bee was tending to her/grooming her Everybody else was just ignoring her. She did seem to have a different demeanor from the rest, moving more elegantly. Hmmmm. My gut feeling is that I have a new queen that's having a hard time getting started. Anyway, like I said, I'll go back in next Wednesday and hopefully have a better answer. I sent my new queen home with my friend; he's gonna put her in a nuc. You guys have any thoughts on this situation?

  12. #12
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    So far, I agree. Sounds like it's a young queen who's just starting to lay. But, of course, there is the possiblity of a laying worker. See if you have some healthy looking brood in a few days and go from there.

    There is always a broodless period when they raise queen. It's 25 days from when they decide to convert a 3 day old larvae until that queen is laying, IF the weather cooperates. More if it doesn't. That means that even the last of the drones has emerged by the time you see any eggs. People often panic at this point and buy a queen when there is already one on the hive that just hasn't gotten to the point of laying yet.

    From the time you see evidence of emergence of the queen until you see eggs is 12 days MINIMUM and often more if the weather isn't good for mating (windy, rainy etc.).

  13. #13
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    Nov 2003
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    Checked my girls again yesterday, and (hurray!) all's well. Lots of eggs, very young larva and capped brood. They seem much happier, too! Guess I can sit back and relax for a while--until the next disaster arises. Thanks for all your guidance and support!

  14. #14
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    >until the next disaster arises

    But didn't the bees resolve this by themselves? Doesn't sound like a disaster, just sounds like bees taking care of themselves.

  15. #15
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    You're absolutely right, Michael: the bees did take care of themselves! It's not their disaster; it's mine--whoever thought I'd lie awake nights worrying about my bees? I try to always adopt your "zen" attitude toward my girls, but being a relative newby, I still worry sometimes. I'm working on it though!

  16. #16
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    Nov 2003
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    Went out to see if any of my hives needed another honey super yet (I have no drawn comb; just new foundation, so I'm adding them as needed)and the only one that needed another super was this hive that I thought was queenless a couple of weeks back! Now, however, one of my new hives--the first swarm I caught this year that was originally going great guns--seems to have lost its queen. This is the hive that when I checked on 5/26 I thought had a funny laying pattern--just a few capped brood in a line rather than a circle up along the pollen/honey boundary. Now those have hatched as well and the area where the brood usually is is absolutely clean! I could find no queen and there are no eggs, larva, capped brood--empty. There's pollen and honey arced above, but that's it. Lots of drones, too. I'm wondering if the queen died and in her last days laid nothing but drone so that the bees couldn't make another queen. I've taken a beautiful frame from my strongest hive and put it in this hive in the hopes they'll find a suitable egg to make a new queen (You all remember how much difficulty I have seeing eggs). It's worked before; hope it works again. Did I do right?

  17. #17
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    Aug 2003
    Location
    Hotlanta, GA
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    Make sure there are enough young nurse bees. If there hasn't been a queen for a while or hasn't laid workers for a while, you will have mostly guard/forage aged bees and not the young nurse bees necessary for good queen rearing.

  18. #18
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    That's what I'd do, at least to see if they need a queen. It's more likely they superceded the old one and the new one isn't laying yet, but that way they can let you know if they need one. Check back in three days and you should see a queen cell started (move the other frames aside firs so you don't break the queen cell). Then you can decide if you want to purchase a queen or let them raise one.

  19. #19
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    Nov 2003
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    Branman, I'm hoping I transferred enough nurse bees from the other hive; I just shook the frame off leaving quite a few "hangers on" to go into the troubled hive--the reason I initially got suspicious, too, was that I saw very few foragers going to and from the hive, yet when I opened it, there were quite a lot of bees--not counting the drones, so I'm hoping I have a good supply of nurse bees.

    If this doesn't work, could I use the paper method to join this hive with another less-than-booming hive? I don't mind reducing the number of hives I have. I really wanted only two and I've got six!

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