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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Fargo, ND, USA
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    Default Missing eggs- Advice needed

    This is my first year with my colony of caniolan bees. They have been in for nearly 2 months and I am using 10 frame medium boxes for both brood and honey. 2 weeks ago, I put on the first honey box with new plastic foundation. Last week, during inspection, I found that they stopped laying/using the bottom-most of the 3 brood boxes, so I moved it to the top. Everything else looked excellent. I also put a frame of honey in the super to encourage them to store up there.

    Today, I went out again to inspect (it's been 10 days) and found they had done very little drawing of comb in the honey box and have started to store entire frames of honey and pollen in the middle of all of the brood chambers. There is also a high count of drone cells (at least half of the cells seem to be drone) and I couldn't find any eggs (and I went through the every frame). I did locate the queen and she seems to be doing well. There are larvae that are uncapped and what is likely capped worker cells (although at least some seem to be honey, even with the dark capping, judging from peeking in where the cell wasn't completely covered). I saw one worker emerging.

    This queen has been an excellent layer until now. 3 weeks ago, there was hardly any honey in the brood chamber and there were eggs in every available cell (a few drones on the bottom edges)- I was in fact worried about the lack of honey. Stupid. Now, I see clean cells and cells that are filled with brood (small enough to still be curled up at the bottom of the cell), capped brood, drone cells and food stores. No eggs. I am especially paranoid because this is my first year.

    I have pictures from todays inspection here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_and_dana/tags/help/

    Can someone look and tell me if I need to worry/do anything? Anyone know what is going on here (or even have a guess?)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
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    2,709

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    The bees are backfilling the broodnest with nectar/honey. The queen has stopped laying in preparation for swarming. You likely have some swarm cells in the hive somewhere.

    I would checkerboard the brood nest with undrawn frames. If you can find the queen, you may want to make a nuc with the queen and a couple frames of bees as an artificial swarm. Then do a newspaper combine later if you only want one hive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    2,674

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Good posibility swarm is in the offing, but I think I would disagree..... More than 25% frones indicates to me a failing queen and they are backfilling because shes not laying...

    The one question I would have is how many bees are in the hive...?? the frames don't look that congested....

    That said checkerboarding certianly won't hurt......

    I would say time to look for a new queen.... But I may be off...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    1,241

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Countryboys input is a possibility, but if you did not see swarm cells, it may not be the whole story. Carnies are pretty good at regulating population in consonance with stores for the active season. They regulate population by adjusting brood volume. If you had boogobs of brood recently, and the flow is petering out, it's possible that they decided to suspend brood rearing altogether to make the adjustment.

    Don't panic yet. But keep your eyes open.

    Walt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Fargo, ND, USA
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    20

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    I panicked. I went back in and pulled frames of honey (from the top 2 brood nest boxes) and checkerboarded with undrawn frames. Then a few hours later, there was a huge cluster (couple hundred or so) of bees outside that weren't going in, so I freaked out and put a second super on, with the pulled frames in it (to give them their food back). They are still all outside, despite a storm rolling in. I brushed through the bees and don't see my queen out there, so I'm guessing she's still inside.

    The question I have with the queen is that she was laying like crazy for a while. Maybe it is a nectar flow thing. I don't know. She's always had a good pattern before.

    The population is generally pretty good, I think. There are some frames that are very congested and some that aren't very. I don't know what's normal, I guess. I know that since getting the package, they have had at least one full cycle of life in 80% of the brood nest, which like I said before is made up of 10 frame medium deeps.

    Thank you all so much for any help. I feel like I've done everything wrong today and that I acted purely emotionally. I tried to do some reading on what to do, but there's not much out there and pretty much all I found was "they'll swarm without more space". Gah!

    If there is anything else I should do or think about (or if I totally f-ed everything up) please let me know. I plan to do a quick peek on Wednesday before I got out of town for the weekend. How will I know if I should re-queen?

    Thank you again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    2,459

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    If your weather has been anything like ours in Wisconsin, what you have found in your hive is nothing surprising. We had very cool weather a few weeks ago, and then very warm weather. The patterns of the broods chamber seem to indicate a confusion on the bees part as to what to do. The older queens have been laying "on again, off again". These hives have disorganized brood, pollen, honey. Only very recently mated queens, with an insatiable desire to lay, have been able to keep an orderly brood chamber.

    Concern might be in order, but I would not worry.

    Roland

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Pigeon Falls, WI
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    2,573

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Your brood frame picture to me looks like your queen has become a drone layer. If that frame previously had nice worker brood in it and is now full of "BULLETS" I would say she has definately failed.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Madison County, Alabama
    Posts
    488

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Beeslave's right. You see, what happened is your queen ran outta gas, er sperm. The queen mates and stores drone semen in her spermetheca---think of it like a gas tank of sorts. If she's not mated adequately her spermetheca (sperm storage bladder) will empty far sooner than a well-mated queen, which has a full spermetheca. No sperm left, no fertilized worker brood. This is likely what's happened. Your hive's not swarming (I bet), they're bearding, which is a result of trying to cool off. What's your daytime high temps there in FAHHHHRRRR-goh? Narth DAHH koo tah.

    You need to get a new queen, and probably fairly quick too. If you have another stronger hive, swap the frames of drone brood with frames of very young larvae and eggs from another hive, and have the bees make a new queen from that frame.
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 06-27-2009 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Unnecessary quoting
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Fargo, ND, USA
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    20

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Thank you all so much- really, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help. I ordered a new queen this morning and she should be here before I leave for the weekend. I feel very relieved.

    I'm sure you were right about the bearding, too. They haven't done it that much and because I was freaked out about something being wrong in the hive, it just worried me all the more. Yesterday was in the 90s and insanely humid. If I were them, I'd hang out outside, too. Today it's only in the high 70s with a good breeze and there are only a couple of bees hanging out outside.

    I think it's funny that when I read the books and when I took a class (granted, the class was 10 years go), everything seems so simple and straight forward. Actually doing it and actually being responsible for my own hive makes me question everything. I'm sure that the more I do it, the better it'll be, but it feels so odd to be second guessing myself. I had to stop and remind myself that the worst case situations were swarming or the colony dying- neither of which are an end to keeping bees.

    Anyways, thank you all so much. I am so grateful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    prop open the top and the bearding will usually stop..... Air flow thru the hive will move them back in....

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Madison County, Alabama
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    488

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by fliese View Post
    I think it's funny that when I read the books and when I took a class (granted, the class was 10 years go), everything seems so simple and straight forward. Actually doing it and actually being responsible for my own hive makes me question everything. ...Anyways, thank you all so much. I am so grateful.
    Your humble attitude and spirit makes you a wiser beekeeper than most. Never stop reading, though, because that knowledge gained, plus thinking through things well before hand makes a hive visit better.

    As for me, I have a horrible laying worker situation which I'm going to start to deal with next week to hopefully rectify before August...I'm already rehearsing my get-well game plan in my mind.

    Lastly, try to anticipate your management moves 3 months from today. Be thinking what you will do to your hive in September, October. What you do today will impact the colony in 3 months...it's like steering a cruise ship. Get that part down and you'll be off to the races.
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Greenville, TX, USA
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    4,207

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Gee, photo 3 clearly shows capped worker brood, worker cells with eggs and larva. I don't see the problem. They probably didn't have enough room for storing nectar so they started back filling. Now that they have room, they will move it around. Leave them alone for awhile. Those popped caps are the bees attempt to get some drones inspite of plastic foundation most likley. Bees need some drones and they'll get them one way or another.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Fargo, ND, USA
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    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    eta: Where are the eggs you see? Could you put notes on the picture or tell me? I have searched for eggs and can only see sun glints. What looks like capped brood on that frame is actually capped honey. I don't know why it's capped with old wax, but I verified that it's honey...

    I know they will have drones- the drones alone aren't the issue. My queen has from day 1 been laying like crazy- I hardly can find an empty cell or a cell of honey. She has laid drones on the bottom edge only and has laid in every cell up to the top of the frame. An average hive visit shows 80% or more of each frame filled with eggs. larvae or capped worker cells. This last visit found no eggs at all, lots of drones (at least 5 times more) and a ton of honey in the brood nest. One thing that's deceiving is that they are capping most of the brood nest honey with old/dark wax, so a lot of what looks like worker brood is, in fact, honey. Trust me, I opened a lot. I can tell just from the weight of the frame, anyways. If there were any eggs, I wouldn't worry as much, but after looking over every frame twice, there weren't any- not a single one.

    I will verify that things haven't improved when I go in for the install of the new queen. If things are looking better, I'll give/sell the queen to someone local and let the hive be, rather than slowing it.

    My instinct is that something is off in there- I just don't fully understand it. It was just so vastly different than any previous inspection. Even watching the entrance today, something is different. I could be wrong (and would be glad for it), but I'd rather be pro-active than find myself in a bigger mess. I feel like I know my hive and this isn't normal for it.
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 07-01-2009 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Unnecessary quote

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    The capping of honey with old wax is not unusual. The established colony does not generally have wax making capability until the "main flow". Nectar accumulated prior to that time is sometimes cured by cluster warmth "boiling off" the excess water content. They MUST cap it with stored wax. In your area, would expect your bee development schedule to be at the point of having new wax capability.

    On prior posts, have referenced descriptions of the internal operations of the colony in the springtime, but few take the time to learn. Those descriptions are not found in beginner books or introductory courses. How can you help your bees be their best if you don't know what they are doing - when?

    This site: Home, Resources, Point of View, Last on the list. The '03 articles treat activities and objectives of the colony in the spring.

    Walt

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Elkton, Giles, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    OOPS. Just got a note from Barry that POV is now available on the home page - Don't have to cycle through Resources.
    Walt

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Fargo, ND, USA
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    20

    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Just an update: the new queen arrived today and I just finished installing her (here's hoping they accept her!). I did a through inspection again, just to be sure, and I still can't find any eggs. the empty brood cells are either still empty and clean, waiting or filled with honey/pollen. It appears that nearly everything uncapped is becoming drone and I'm pretty sure I found 2 supersedure cells (unless they were false, but I don't know how to tell that). The queen was within 2 frames of where she was on Friday.

    Point being, by the time I found her (in the bottom of the nest), I felt very sure that replacing her was the right thing. *sigh* I'm glad that decision is made.

    One last question: Do I still need to re-queen in the fall (which here would be September)?

    Thank you all again!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
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    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    nope, no requeen needed.....

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Fargo, ND, USA
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    Default Re: Missing eggs- Advice needed

    Thank you, sir!
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 07-01-2009 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Unnecessary quote

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