Two out of three of my hives have problems:
Hive one is one that over wintered. This hive swarmed LATE last year, raised a new queen and has been looking stellar so far. I put a honey super on about two weeks ago. During inspection today I found that the hive is overflowing with bees. They have not drawn any comb in the honey super. There appears to be a good amount of honey stored in the deeps. Lots of brood, larvae, etc, a bunch of swarm cells and NO eggs. I fear that swarming is a foregone conclusion at this point.
Hive two is a newly installed package about a month and a half ago and is looking great.
Hive three is a new package installed at the same time. To make a long story short, the queen failed, the workers looked like they were well on their way to raising a new queen. Today upon inspection there was no sign of a queen, but plenty of signs of laying workers!!! @#%*!!!!
What is my best course of action for these two distinctly different problems, short of giving up completely (which is what I really feel like doing right now)?
One hive is a booming success and you feel like a failure? The other is having problems that the booming one obviously has the resources to resolve. Why not take every frame that has some queen cells and make a split with some of the frames and bees from the failing hive. Just smoke them good and put them together with a little smoke or spray them with some syrup.
You can probably make five small hives and then combine them all back in a month, if you don't want that many, or leave them if you do want that many.
Thanks for the quick reply. I guess I'm at a stage where the fun in overcoming the constant challenges has lost it's charm, at least temporarily.
By taking out all of the quenn cell frames will I curb the urge for the booming hive to swarm? Is the fact that I can find no eggs mean that the queen is now determined to leave?
I just finished reading the thread on Tia's situation with a new queen. About two weeks ago the hive with he failed queen had a queen cell with a huge larva with giant dark eyes ready to be capped. Today I saw no queen, but a lot of cells with two eggs in them, some of the cells had eggs that were not perfectly centered of upright. Some of the pollen cells had eggs in them. But the pattern was very tight and across several frames. Is this a sign of laying workers or an inexperienced queen getting the hang of things?
There was no sign of the queen cells from 2 weeks ago.
Hard to say at first, but if the eggs continue to be strange, I might get concerned. My queen in my observation hive just layed a bunch of eggs in the burr comb on the glass. Not near deep enough to raise brood in. She's been laying a year.
The queen that is getting ready to swarm will stop laying to slim down for the flight. But if you split them all off and there aren't enough bees to make a decent swarm they may not leave and even if they do there won't be many bees in the hive TO swarm so you won't lose many.
I wish I could convince everyone that a lack of eggs does not necessarily mean there isn't a queen. It MAY mean that or you may just have a queen that isn't laying yet.
When in doubt, give them a frame of eggs from another hive and see what happens.
I've wasted my money on queens in this situation myself. You find no queen and no eggs and no capped queen cells and assume they are queenless, so you buy a nice marked queen that you introduce to the hive. They seem to take to her ok, but then you find her dead out front. You search the hive and there is a beautiful, unmarked queen laying up a storm. Who, of course, was there all along, but hadn't been properly mated yet.
That's why I'm trying not jump to the "order a new queen" conclusion. I have fallen into a similar trap once before. I'm trying to let them take their natural course.To paraphrase what you often say, they know what to do better than we do. It's always an issue of timing and knowing when to intervene. For that I don't have enough experience yet. Thanks.
The problem is the timing. By the time you realize they have FAILED to raise a new queen they are way behind. But if by the time your THINK they have failed to raise one, odds are there is one about to start laying.
That's why I usually go for giving them some eggs and see what they do. That way I give the resources if they NEED a queen and if they don't I haven't hurt anything.
Can I split the overcrowded hive and combine it with the possible queenless, possible laying worker hive?
Sure you can...
Point being, you want to prevent the loss of your stock flying the coop.
These are your investment flying away. Just combine and go back later and split. No biggy.