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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Horsham, PA
    Posts
    43

    Default Advice about swarmed queenless (?) hive

    My overwintered hive swarmed about May 9. Honey-bound. I went in on Friday the 13th (!) and cut out all but 2 big supercedure cells (NOT swarm cells - cut those too, because I think I misunderstood another beek's advice). Was hoping they would raise their own queen. Did not go in again until today (14 days after leaving 2 big capped supercedure cells), and went thru the whole hive (5 mediums). Looked quite queenless, was buzzing loudly and NO BROOD AT ALL or eggs. Could not see any queen. Looked for laying worker evidence (multiple eggs), but saw none. I have a package just started a few weeks ago. Queen is just starting to lay (barely) and there is a very little bit of brood (maybe a palm size on a frame) - but not a great pattern - saw eggs.

    Questions:

    1. Is it possible there is a virgin queen in the big hive? Saw nothing, but queen cells were gone. Also has been bad weather here until last few days.

    2. If I call it quits on the big hive, can I combine it with the little weaker package hive with the queen? If so, how? Newspaper? Shake bees of in front of queenright hive? They are right next to each other.

    3. The big hive is stuffed with capped honey. I have tried to checkerboard as best I can, but honestly I think I need another super on now. Can I take some of that capped honey now??

    4. I know I should get a frame of brood to put in the big hive, but I think there is too littloe in the package hive and, no, I don't have a friend who beekeeps.

    Any advice is appreciated. I think I want to give up on the big hive.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,654

    Default Re: Advice about swarmed queenless (?) hive

    >1. Is it possible there is a virgin queen in the big hive? Saw nothing, but queen cells were gone. Also has been bad weather here until last few days.

    May 9th would be 19 days ago. Usually a virgin would be laying in two weeks, but in bad weather it could take three. So for sure she should be laying in the next couple of days if she is there.

    >2. If I call it quits on the big hive, can I combine it with the little weaker package hive with the queen?

    Of course.

    > If so, how? Newspaper?

    Newspaper would be the most common method.

    > Shake bees of in front of queenright hive?

    That's a lot more work.

    > They are right next to each other.

    That may help.

    >3. The big hive is stuffed with capped honey. I have tried to checkerboard as best I can, but honestly I think I need another super on now. Can I take some of that capped honey now??

    You can always take whatever you don't think they need for winter.

    >4. I know I should get a frame of brood to put in the big hive, but I think there is too littloe in the package hive and, no, I don't have a friend who beekeeps.

    If you give the little hive some of that capped honey and you steal a frame of eggs with no bees you will actually be helping them. Give them some pollen and you'll help them even more. 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.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Horsham, PA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Advice about swarmed queenless (?) hive

    Hi Michael - thanks so much for responding. I didn't have time to get to a computer to type this follow-up until this AM. To update you, I went in yesterday and took a frame of eggs w/ no bees from the little package hive and put it into the bottom box of the big queenless hive. Also put a really good pollen frame into the little weaker hive. I took 5 frames of completely capped honey off the big queenless hive and added foundation/made 10-frame boxes into 9 frames to make up the difference. There is plenty of honey left -- mostly all capped on one side, but not the other. A few follow-up questions:

    1. Since I moved the frame of eggs into the queenless hive, am I to expect that they will raise a new queen from this or is this just a stop-gap to keep the workers from laying? Would you advise I requeen?

    2. If I requeen, should she be installed in the bottom box? There are empty cells there for laying.

    3. If I newspapered the hives together, what are the mechanics of combining an old huge hive (5 boxes) with a brand-new one (one box plus some undrawn/partially drawn foundation in a second box)? Put the small package box w/ queen under the other 5 boxes? We're getting pretty high up there!

    4. Many of the frames I put in the big queenless hive to checkerboard are now partially drawn and filled with nectar, which seems to defeat the purpose of checkerboarding to make laying space. Amy thoughts?

    Thanks again for your time.

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