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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Fayetteville, Arkansas
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    Default Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    I had split a hive a little over a week ago and checked in on them today (timed it so the queen cells would be ripe). I was planning on splitting it again using queen cells on two frames and included brood as the bases for the new hives. I had left them two frames of eggs and young brood. However, I found three frames with queen cells on them, one on a frame that had appeared to be 100% drone (foundationless). So I split it into three, one frame with cells for each hive.

    Two questions.

    First, do bees ever accidentally make queen cells out of drones? Or is it more likely that I missed some worker cells on that frame?

    Second, if you split a functionally queenless hive, how do the bees differentiate each other? What is their unifying smell if they have no queen?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    1,165

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    somehow it looks like your using too much math to do your beekeeping. I recommend going back to basics with a good book. good luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    I'm not sure what that means. I've read several books on beekeeping, but what does math have to do with my questions?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    May I make the recommendation so you can further your education in beekeeping. I would recommend the Hive and the Honey bee. It has a goodly history of beekeeping in it for the uninformed. Since you already have Beekeeping for Dummies or is it the idiots guide to beekeeping? I can not recommend those to you. You might also try to find a reprint of American Honey Plants by Frank C Pellet. And to answer your question, Yes, out of desperation. And No because a queenless hive is automatically disfunctional it should not be split. The bees make a frantic racket running around wishing for momma. NO differintiating there.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    43,419

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    >First, do bees ever accidentally make queen cells out of drones?

    No. But they will out of desperation.

    > Or is it more likely that I missed some worker cells on that frame?

    That is more likely.

    >Second, if you split a functionally queenless hive, how do the bees differentiate each other? What is their unifying smell if they have no queen?

    According to Brother Adam, the bees cannot tell one queen from another, they can only tell a laying queen from one that has been caged. In other words they can tell the CONDITION of the queen (e.g. she was laying eggs a few minutes ago vs she has not laid an egg in four days vs she has not laid an egg in a month). I have seen some evidence to agree with him and some that would not, but I think the concept is overrated. The "unifying" smell is Nasonov and anytime it's being used any swarming or lost bees get very confused and cannot tell one swarm from another.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    The unifying element in any colony are the mandibular and body secretions that ANY healthy queen secretes.
    Even an unbred, nonlaying virgin will have a calming effect on a colony. Queens are packed with pheromones that the bees spread around the colony after picking them up from the grooming of her. Without these pheromones, the colony looses cohesiveness and becomes an unruly mass frantically running around making a "racket"as I mentioned earlier looking for "momma". The nasanov gland is used in "come hither" situations, as mentioned by Bush. But is NOT the unifying smell. The unify smell are QMPs, (Queen mandibular Pheromones), without these scents evenly spread around the colony, the colony thinks that they are A-queenless or B overcrowded, ready to swarm. TED

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    2,267

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    Two weeks ago I discovered a very strong two story colony of Russians was queenless. Overflowing with bees, but no queen, no brood, no eggs, nada zilch nothing. I got lucky and ordered two Russian queens that arrived 4 days later. I split that hive into two, gave each brood box a queen in the mailing cage. One week later, both queens were released and laying well. So now, I have two hives that are growing.

    So it appears you can take a queenless colony and introduce a new queen successfully. Or else I got real lucky.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,043

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    I assume that when you are referring to giving each "brood box" a queen you are referring to the brood less hive body. What you pulled off StevenG wasn't quite according to the book particularly if they were a real "roaring queen less" hive. You gambled a couple queens and it looks like it is going to work out for you. Ideally you start a nuc with a majority of calm contented bees and at least a couple frames of brood in various stages to complete the package and as a contingency to raise another cell if the intro fails
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    The original question was what would hold the bees together WITHOUT a queen. Obviously that is not QMP. Yet they will stay together.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The original question was what would hold the bees together WITHOUT a queen. Obviously that is not QMP. Yet they will stay together.
    Guess I strayed a bit. Two things other than QMP. One being open larvae and the other simply that their hive has been thoroughly disrupted so they gotta be somewhere, the correct term being drifting
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
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    1,163

    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    Micheal, were are they going to go?? They are queenless, survival to them looks bleak at best. They are listless and lost without QMP. They have no choice but to stay together to the end. After so many days laying workers develope and an attempt at normalcy is tried. And unless the strain is bizzare and adept at Thelotoky ,the colony perishes. I, myself have often wondered why they just dont go afield and join up with another colony but they stay in place working to the end. TK

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
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    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    Jim said it better than I ever could of had. TED

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: Two questions, splitting a 'queenless' hive.

    hmmm I didn't say "roaring queenless" It was a very strong hive, 2 deep brood boxes without brood, but comb, bees, honey and pollen. It was puzzling, but it has worked out. And yes, they stayed there. What really puzzled me was they continued to bring in pollen and honey. They weren't overly aggressive, just kept going about their business. I looked and looked for eggs and larvae, but nothing at all. I guess the survival programming was just too strong, and they continued doing what they do. Occasionally we do get lucky.
    Regards,
    Steven
    Last edited by StevenG; 04-20-2011 at 10:41 AM. Reason: clarification
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

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