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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Nuc, queenless vs virgin queen-help!

    33 days ago I installed a 5-frame nuc with bees & brood and a live unmarked queen, however by the next day the queen had been released and has not been seen since. We had a miserably cold 2 weeks and no forage available. I started syrup, which they are still taking voraciously--and storing it as nectar, I discovered today. They are foraging, bringing in pollen, and storing pollen and nectar around the brood nest area, as well as storing capped honey in an outer frame. There are no eggs or brood. None. Some of the brood areas of the center frames are empty and some have nectar in them. The bees act content, in my newbie estimation.

    There were a couple of queen cells that may have had queens in them when they arrived. Early on there were a lot of drones (when it was so cold), but almost none in the last ?3 weeks.

    I have a top bar hive that was started with a package at the same time, & it's doing well, but I don't think it's strong enough to take brood and give it to the nuc.

    My question: should I wait another week and see if there's a virgin queen that hasn't mated yet (which might explain why the colony seems so content), or should I give it up and combine the two hives before I get laying workers?

    Thanks in advance for the advice! Kathy, Lat 48, NW Montana

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,263

    Default Re: Nuc, queenless vs virgin queen-help!

    I would say wait a week as it sounds like there's a good possibility there's a virgin in there.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,055

    Default Re: Nuc, queenless vs virgin queen-help!

    agree.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,410

    Default Re: Nuc, queenless vs virgin queen-help!

    If you are concerned about taking eggs from another new package or small colony, keep in mind that bees have little invested in eggs and the queen can lay far more eggs than a small colony can warm, feed and raise. Taking a frame of eggs from a small struggling new hive and swapping it for an empty comb or any drawn comb will have little impact on the donor colony and may save the recipient if they are indeed queenless. If the recipient didn't need a queen it will fill in the gap while the new queen gets mated and not interfere with things.

    If you are afraid of transferring the queen from the queenright hive, because you are not good at finding queens, then shake or brush all the bees off before you give it to them.

    There are few solutions as universal in their application and their success than adding a frame of open brood every week for three weeks. It is a virtual panacea for any queen issues. It gives the bees the pheromones to suppress laying workers. It gives them more workers coming in during a period where there is no laying queen. It does not interfere if there is a virgin queen. It gives them the resources to rear a queen. It is virtually foolproof and does not require finding a queen or seeing eggs. If you have any issue with queenrightness, no brood, worried that there is no queen, this is the simple solution that requires no worrying, no waiting, no hoping. You just give them what they need to resolve the situation. If you have any doubts about the queenrightness of a hive, give them some open brood and sleep well. Repeat once a week for two more weeks if you still aren't sure. By then things will be fine.

    http://bushfarms.com/beespanacea.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Kalispell, MT, USA
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Nuc, queenless vs virgin queen-help!

    Thanks so much for the advice! Today looks to be the last relatively warm and sunny day for another week, so the help is timely.

    I'll transfer the nuc bees to my Warre' hive placed exactly where the nuc presently sits. (In fact, the nuc has been on top of the Warre' hive body for the entire time.) I'll tie a brood comb with eggs and larvae to one of the Warre' top bars. I'll tie another brood comb next week if needed. Is it the presence of queen cells that will tell me I need not add another brood comb?

    Would it then be advantageous to place the nuc above the warre for them to scavenge the nectar, pollen, and honey stores or would that just invite trouble? I can do so using the adapter board I'm presently using.

    Thanks, again! Kathy, Lat 48, NW Montana

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,410

    Default Re: Nuc, queenless vs virgin queen-help!

    >Is it the presence of queen cells that will tell me I need not add another brood comb?

    You can go by that if you like. My general rule is don't even worry about it. Just give them one frame of open brood and eggs once a week for three weeks. They will take care of things.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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