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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    Well, I think I messed up. Last year I started playing with starter strips. I used them in the second deep in a two-hive body system. Most of the strips were used for honey storage. This year I had to rearrange things between hives and didn't pay too much attention on where I was placing the frames containing the comb built from the starter strips. About six weeks ago, I noticed that the queen was laying up these frames with a large percentage of drone brood and as a result, over the past few weeks the drone population has been dramatically increasing. Now today, the hive has a massive population of drones that are consuming all surplus honey. There are so many drones that it was impossible to find the queen. I did see uncapped worker brood, so I guess she is still present, but brood pattern was not great. I removed three frames from outside of the brood nest and placed new foundation in the center of the box.

    My guess is that this starter strip built comb resulted in drone-sized cells, true? Shouldn't the queen do a better job at regulating the number of drones, or was this a complete rookie mistake? I would like to eliminate some of these drones using a shake down and an excluder, but if I can't find the queen itÂ’s going to be a problem.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >Most of the strips were used for honey storage. This year I had to rearrange things between hives and didn't pay too much attention on where I was placing the frames containing the comb built from the starter strips.

    Bad idea. They will build very large cells for honey storage and you shouldn't put those in the brood nest. Either put brood combs (that were drawn in the brood nest) in the brood nest or new frames with starter strips.

    >About six weeks ago, I noticed that the queen was laying up these frames with a large percentage of drone brood and as a result, over the past few weeks the drone population has been dramatically increasing. Now today, the hive has a massive population of drones that are consuming all surplus honey. There are so many drones that it was impossible to find the queen. I did see uncapped worker brood, so I guess she is still present, but brood pattern was not great. I removed three frames from outside of the brood nest and placed new foundation in the center of the box.

    I would do that or starter strips, but I would move the drone out of the middle of the brood nest.

    According to the studies the bees will not raise any more or less drone regardless, in the long run, but the queen certainly will lay it up in a hurry and the drone population will explode more quickly. Still they need small worker cells in the middle of the brood nest, not drone cells. THEY wouldn't have built all drone cells in the middle of the brood nest so this isn't a natural state for them. They would have built them on the outside edges of the nest.

    >My guess is that this starter strip built comb resulted in drone-sized cells, true?

    Yes, that's what they would build for honey storage. The bees didn't plan on you moving it around.

    >Shouldn't the queen do a better job at regulating the number of drones, or was this a complete rookie mistake?

    She just looks at the cell and lays eggs based on the size. From my observation, the workers control the drone population by building more drone comb filling it with honey or emptying it out so that the queen can or can't lay in it.

    >I would like to eliminate some of these drones using a shake down and an excluder, but if I can't find the queen itÂ’s going to be a problem.

    Any hive has a lot of drone in it by the middle of the honey flow. It's just normal. How do you expect to "eliminate" the drones? Kill them? If you do the bees will just expend energy rasing more of them. I probably would freeze the capped drone cells because it will help with the mites while decreasing the population of drones some. How will you keep the drones out of the hive?

    I'd freeze the drone comb that's in the hive. If you have a mixtue of drone and worker you could use a capping fork and pull the drone and leave the workers. It will also give you a chance to assess the mites.

    Move worker brood comb or starter strips or frames with 4.9mm foundation into the center of the brood nest when you take the drone out to freeze it. Move the mixed frames of the now uncapped drone mixed with worker brood to the outsides to let the bees finish the workers off and then remove them, or put them above an excluder to finish off where the queen can't lay in them again.

    Remember that the bees organize a hive with a variety of cell sizes and if you are going to let them build what they want then you need to respect where it belongs.

    The queen doesn't look ANYTHING like a drone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Michael

    Thanks for the reply. I did uncap a few drones and didn't see any mites. I have been monitoring on a regular basis and things are so far pretty good.

    I guess you confirmed my thoughts that this was a total rookie mistake - one that I'll never repeat!!

    >The queen doesn't look ANYTHING like a drone.

    Ouch!! That really hurts the ego, but I guess well deserved. My point was that there are so many (and I mean probably five full frames of shoulder-to-shoulder drones) that scanning for the queen based upon size queues is not an easy task. In general, I consider myself reasonably proficient at finding queens, but this hive represnts a challenge.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    But the drones are not shaped at all the same. Think of the drones as the beer bellied men and the queen as a tall super model. She's actually much thinner and longer and more graceful not only in shape, but in movement. Not only that but she probably has either a red or green dot on her.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    >Not only that but she probably has either a red or green dot on her.

    Now you tell me!! And to think that all this time I just thought it was just skinny drone with a smear of pollen

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Glad I could help (and I thought I was just being a smart alec)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

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    >THEY wouldn't have built all drone cells in the middle of the brood nest so this isn't a natural state for them. They would have built them on the outside edges of the nest.<

    Actually, in every one of my TBHs the center of the brood nest is precisely where they put the drone comb. Not a lot, probably about 10%-15% of each comb that has drone brood in it, but it is smack dab in the middle of the nests.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I have seen some in the middle, but not much and not usually. But I'm in a different climate.

  9. #9

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    If the drones are so numerous you can't find the queen you ought to consider a drone layer/laying worker.

    Think of me as a beer bellied male

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