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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    cincinnati, ohio
    Posts
    78

    Default Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    I have a very strong hive in Cincinnati from last year which swarmed on May 12. I saw the swarm cells I the a few days before that. I waited until May 26 to check for brood, but found no eggs, larvae, etc. A commercial beekeeper told me to give the new queen two more weeks and check again. I checked on June 9, but still no evidence of eggs, brood. I have nine other very strong hives in my backyard, so I moved a frame with eggs/brood to the hive on June 16. I checked again on Jun 23 and they had not started making a queen yet and there still was no evidence of brood except for the frame I put in. They just raised the eggs to normal worker brood. I moved another frame of eggs to the hive on June 30. July 7, I checked again and they still had not started make queen cells. Also, there never was any indication of a laying worker. July 8, I found what looked to be a normal healthy queen running around in there, but she was not laying any eggs. She apparently had some problems and did not lay. That explained why they were not making new queen cells and there was no laying workers developing. I pinched her and put another frame of eggs in the hive. I checked on July 14 and still not queen cells were being made. The hive was very strong from all the frames of eggs and brood I have been moving to it. I thought it might have taken them a little while to realize their faulty queen was dead, so I tried one more frame of eggs on July 21. I checked that frame today, July 26, and no queen cells. A friend of mine and I searched the hive and found another queen running around in there. We carried that frame about 10 feet away so I could get a tool to pinch her, but we could not find her on the frame again. Apparently she fell on the ground, flew back to the hive, etc.? Can someone explain how there were two queens in the hive and why neither of them were laying? Has anyone ever seen anything like this? The Ohio bee inspector cannot explain it? Should I go back into the hive tomorrow and see if the queen I saw today made it back to the hive? If I cannot find here, should I try eggs again since I will be certain there is no queen in there. Jim

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Jacksonville, NC
    Posts
    214

    Default Re: Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    It is possible that after your hive swarmed, more than one virgin remained with the hive. In your case two of them...that you found. It is also possible that they got mated, but for whatever reason, were not able to lay. The bees did not get rid of them nor did they start new queen cells because these two mature queens, were present, releasing the pheromones/queen substance...so life appeared normal...except the hive was not growing.

    It is also possible that in the time frame from the swarming event ( May 12) until now, they actually tried supersedure and one of the queens might have been the mother and the other her daughter that just did not start laying or just like mama, could not lay too good or at all, according to your observation. Mama might not have laid too good, but from what she did, maybe the bees did initiate supersedure.

    The presence of two mature queens, plus the fact that you added all those frames with eggs/brood, like you said, kept the worker bees from turning into laying workers.

    Bees do crazy-to us that is- things sometimes...and it is possible that your hive got stuck with two mated queens that just could not/would not lay. And even though the bees "should" have detected a deficient queen, they just did not do anything about it, despite the fact that you provided them with the resources.

    Well, like you say, I would give them another frame of eggs/young larvae and see what they do...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,347

    Default Re: Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    virgin queens and new laying queens that have left the hive to mate, will fly back to the hive. Often young queens are quite jumpy, sometimes they will just fly off on there own, soon to return.

    As far as whats going on in your hive. Im not sure...didn't feel like reading everything. Just lay out the timing for an egg to be a queen and when she may lay, when the swarm occured and when you added frames of eggs. I suspect you might have pinched a viable queen.

    General after a hive swarms it takes 3 weeks for a new queen to start laying, sometimes 4.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,018

    Default Re: Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    Quote Originally Posted by dulley View Post
    If I cannot find here, should I try eggs again since I will be certain there is no queen in there. Jim
    Are you sure? One time you cannot find the queen and the next time you find two.
    I tend to leave the hive alone. I know that doesn't set well with most beekeepers but if the colony doesn't make it it is not one I want. The first frame of eggs fine but why spend so much time, effort, and resources on such a hive?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Jacksonville, NC
    Posts
    214

    Default Re: Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    Are you sure? One time you cannot find the queen and the next time you find two.
    I tend to leave the hive alone.
    It happens to the best sometimes...that is, finding two queens in a hive where one thought there are none. People do different things...they learn in different ways, perceive and interpret things in different ways. Nothing wrong with leaving a hive alone...except that if learning is one of your objective (it should be, especially for people starting out with bees) you're not going to learn a whole lot.
    Bees, as opposed to people...have the answer, they don't judge and reveal what they have going if one is indeed interested in observing and learning their ways.

    In dulley's case, if by pinching one potentially viable queen, and then losing the second one in the transfer/maneuvering of the hive...if no other frame of eggs/larvae is given to this hive, assuming there are none left in the hive, how would you know if the bees are queen less or maybe still queen right?
    Clearly from his description, despite having two queens in this hive, there was no laying, there was no growing...a weak hive in the making, setting itself up for maybe laying workers, robbing and/or invasion by SHB and wax moths to boot.

    Sure, if non-intervention is the chosen way...then, non-intervention has its own outcomes and one can certainly learn from that outcome, good or bad. I think it would be good for all the beekeepers to experience first hand the results and outcomes of intervention and non-intervention methods...but as the say, different strokes for different folks, and each to his own.
    Last edited by apis maximus; 07-27-2014 at 09:24 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,018

    Default Re: Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    As I said I didn't have a problem with adding the frame of eggs the first time. I feel you can come to a conclusion if you limit your intervention and learn more as a newbie. An experience beekeeper doesn't have to lean they already know so their intervention is deliberate with a known outcome. Nobody can say for sure that dulley pinched a viable queen. But everyone could say if there was one had he waited. Even his follow up interventions of more brood was saying there was one. Can anyone tell me what dulley has learned from this experience? I don't think you can, there were too many interventions.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,379

    Default Re: Two queens in hive, but no brood - HELP

    When I'm confused about the situation (and sometimes evidence is ambiguous and confusing) I give them a frame of open brood and eggs and walk away. They almost always sort things out. If I think it could be laying workers, I do this every week for three weeks.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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