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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    93

    Default Non-laying queen and tiny cluster

    Hi all-
    2 of the 3 hives I inherited are doing great. The weak one has a queen but the cluster is tiny (4" diameter circle over 2 frames.) I made a big mistake by moving this hive a week ago about 8 feet away and I lost bees to drift. None of the bees are foraging and there are no eggs, larva, etc...They do seem to be taking and storing the syupr I put above them. They are in a double deep and have about 8 frames of honey total.

    My question-
    Can I shake some bees into this hive to give the queen enough bees to nurse a brood? My mentor is tied up with his own bees right now, but he said the queen probably isn't laying because there isn't a big enough cluster to heat/nurse brood. Would this help? I do feel the 2 strong hives have enough to give at this point.

    Environmental note:No dandelions yet. It's been un-seasonably warm the last week, today will be 80, tomorrow will be high 60's. Daffodils, forsythia, star magnolias, red maple and willows are all blooming/budding. The lilacs have squirrel ears (leaf size) and the forcast is for 70's the next 7 days.

    I am taking the Cornell apprentice class next weekend with my girlfriend so I will not have a chance to do this for another two more weeks. I'd hate to lose the queen (I think...)

    Thank you!
    Eamon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    93

    Default A little more info...

    Looking at the yard it does look like dandelions will be here by the end of the week. Spring is coming early here it seems.
    Eamon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Hanover, MA, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default

    Yes you can shake bees into the hive but you will need to put a sheet of newspaper on the week hive then a hive body on top of that. Cut a few slits or poke holes with a pencil tip in the paper and add new bees. Cover the whole thing up with no exit for the new bees (leave them some syrup). This allows the bees to get to know each other via scent without fighting each other. They will eventually chew thru the paper and be best of friends! Your cluster will increase and queen starts laying. Keep the entarnce reduced.

    Another option is let them alone till one of the other hives is strong enough to split then kill off the week one and split the strong one.

    One more note, you don't need newspaper when giving a frame of brood to another hive, as bees will accept brood and the emerging bees are always part of the hive they emerged into. But this is not your best option right now as you don't have a cluster big enough to keep brood warm.

    Good Luck,
    Corey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default

    Another method you could do to boost the smaller hive is swap locations of one of your stronger hives with the weaker one. The foraging bees will fly out of the stronger one and boost the colony population. One thing to consider is, can the stronger hive afford to lose many of its forging population.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    93

    Default Here's the plan...

    I plan on going to the apiary today. I'm going to set up a 5 frame nuc, put the 2 frames with the queen and her 100-200 attendants in it with 2 frames of honey and a frame of pollen from one of my stronger colonies. I'll put a piece of newspaper on top with slits in it and place a nuc body on top of that. In the top body I'll put 3 more frames of honey and 2 frames of brood with bees from the strong colony. On top of that I'll put an inner cover, syrup and top cover. Finally I'll reduce the entrance and see what happens.

    What do you think? :confused:It's about a week or two early to do splits/build nucs here, but it's warmer than normal and we're a week or two ahead.

    Thanks in advance. I hope to hear from some of you before I head out....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Devils Lake, North Dakota
    Posts
    9,123

    Default

    I have a similar colony situation and am doing as Brent says.
    Switch colony locations with a nearby strong one.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,125

    Default

    If you have several hives you can take a handful or a frame full (depending on how strong they are) of bees from brood comb from three or more of them and dump them into a box together. Let them set about 2 hours to figure out they are queenless and then just dump them into the weak hive. They will be wanting a queen, they will be confused (because of three or more sources) and they usually won't fight at all.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Syracuse, NY
    Posts
    93

    Default Did it....

    I took some of your suggestions and moved the strong hive 1 1/2 feet to the left and put the weak hive in a double deep 5 frame nuc body in it's place. I took a peak this evening (6 hours later) and it was full of bees. I'll leve it alone for a week or so and see what happens.

    The strong colony is STRONG. 3 deeps full of brood, pollen, bees and honey. I think it can spare the drifters.

    Thanks for all your help!
    Eamon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default

    Another bonus to that type of manipulation is all the returning forgers form the strong hive bring nectar and pollen with them.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    delta,bc,canada
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Hi,

    Sorry to bother the learned more experienced ones but i have a very similar situation. I actually thought i had killed the queen last week when I introduced her but couldn't figure why I had this 4 inch cluster. Now I am a VERY, VERY, new bee type person and have a difficult time distinguishing worker, drone, queen.....

    Is this a Queen??


    or this??



    Thanks for your help!!

    -geoff

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,125

    Default

    She's in both pictures. With the pointer she is just below it. The other one she's about the middle.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Kanosh,Utah
    Posts
    166

    Default

    It appears to me the queen is in both pictures, in the first link she is in the center on the bottom frame in the second link she is just below the pointer.

    Blessed Bee
    Doug
    May the Great Spirit watch over you as long as the grass grows and the water flows.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    delta,bc,canada
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Thank you Michael, tht is what I was hoping to hear.

    Is this normal that a Queen will not lay if there is not enough workers/support staff to look after the eggs? What you see is about the extent of the workers in the hive and it has been this way for about 10 days.

    If I add more bees from another hive will she think it is time to start to make things happen and start laying eggs?

    This has been the most antagonizing 6 weeks of my life. When I think I have a rough idea on what is supposed to happen, another new situation is thrown at me. Then I think I have that figured and here comes another new situation.......

    thanks again, geoff

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,125

    Default

    >Is this normal that a Queen will not lay if there is not enough workers/support staff to look after the eggs?

    Yes.

    >If I add more bees from another hive will she think it is time to start to make things happen and start laying eggs?

    Most likely, yes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default

    The next time you spot her use the opportunity, to mark her. It makes it much easier to spot her when the hive population gets bigger, and will also let you know if they had superseaded her.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    edmonds, WA, USA
    Posts
    348

    Default

    Geoff, both those pictures show the queen. Nice pics. Michael, if you shake bees from the same yard, wont they mostly return to their own hives? In that case should you shake about twice as many as you actually want?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,125

    Default

    >Michael, if you shake bees from the same yard, wont they mostly return to their own hives? In that case should you shake about twice as many as you actually want?

    If you shake them from brood comb, not really. A frame of brood comb with the bees might be even better. But some will drift back, yes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Sawyer, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,115

    Default

    Michael has a very good suggestion, if you are trying to boost a weak hive transferring frames of brood both capped and uncapped with the nurse bees will give you a steadier population of younger bees. This will allow the queen to pick up the egg laying pace , then stand back for the population explosion.
    The Busy Bee teaches two lessons: One is not to be idle and the other is not to get stung.

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