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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    2

    Sad Requeen original hive after big swarm?

    My year-old hive has swarmed several times this year, and I'm trying to figure
    out if I need to requeen it. I may have a weak queen, but I'm not sure how
    fast queens are supposed to lay.

    Sorry for the long post! I'm new to beekeeping, and I don't know what to
    expect, so I'm trying to write down everything I observe. I have a top bar
    hive with about 12 or so combs in it.

    Timeline:
    ---------

    Early April: The brood comb was packed, but I didn't have another hive to
    relieve the pressure. The honey comb was pretty empty of honey, but the bees
    were active 3-4 combs deep because there were so many of them. Lots of swarm
    cells (peanut shaped cells, about an inch long) formed around the edges of the
    brood comb. Through the glass window on the side of the hive, I could see
    about 10 or so.

    Late April: Neighbors say the hive swarmed, although I was not home. They said
    the swarm filled my backyard and several others, but they didn't see whether it
    finally formed into a ball of bees.

    May 4: Hive swarmed again. I caught the swarm off my fence and gave it to a
    fellow beekeeper. Still lots of swarm cells (maybe up to 15 now?). The hive
    was still pretty crowded.

    May 10: Hive swarmed a third time. My neighbor's landlord captured it from one
    of his bushes and put a langstroph hive on the other side of the fence from my
    hive.

    May 28 (two weeks ago): I noticed some of the remaining swarm cells had been
    aborted (chewed through on the side), so I assumed the new queen was in there.
    The bees were active, although not as active as before they had swarmed. They
    were occupying about about 6-7 brood combs, with plenty wandering in the honey comb.

    Today: I looked through the glass window and saw that the bees were only active
    in about four combs I could see. There was a considerably lower amount
    of bees coming in and out of the entrance, although that might have been
    because it was cloudy and around 60 degrees F. I decided to take the top off
    and look inside.

    The bees were much more docile than last fall when I tried to harvest honey.
    It seemed like much of the hive went with the last swarm, and I'm down to maybe
    only 2-3 pounds of bees. The swarm cells are all either aborted or opened at
    the bottom, except for two at the edge of some honey comb that seem abandoned
    (perhaps old and never hatched?).

    I was also concerned because I saw several adult workers with deformed wing
    virus. There was maybe 2-3 total in the honey combs, 2-3 per comb in the brood
    comb, with up to 7-10 in the most active brood comb. I did see some smaller
    (newly hatched?) bees without deformed wings, so some of the new brood is fine.

    I'm just not sure if the new queen is laying fast enough, or consistently
    enough. I do see signs of laying, with one egg per cell, and flat capped
    brood, so I don't think I have a laying worker. But I also see some caps deep
    in the cells, some crooked, around the edges of some of the brood comb.

    Most of the fully formed capped comb is in three of the combs in the heart of
    the brood comb. The caps are in a rough circle in the center, in an area
    roughly the size of 3/4 of my (small woman's) hand. The capped area isn't
    uniform, with maybe 10-15 cells that are uncapped. A few of the uncapped cells
    in the middle have new eggs in them, but many of the "spotty" cells seem
    empty. There are larvae that are starting to get larger around the edges of
    the capped cells, and some are fat enough to fill the bottom. The larvae take
    up an inch or two ring around the capped cells.

    I guess I'm concerned because I don't see any eggs outside the ring of larvae.
    I could just be bad at spotting them. I do see liquid in some of the cells
    further from the center of the comb, but I'm not sure if that's honey or royal
    jelly. How fast should a queen be laying eggs? Shouldn't more of the brood
    comb have eggs in them by now? The presence of the deformed wings and the
    serious reduction of workers is also concerning.

    I did not see the queen, although I looked for her, but I'm probably pretty bad
    at spotting her.

    Does it sound like I need to requeen at this point? Or should I just give the
    hive another week and see if the queen is laying better? I can order a queen
    tomorrow, but she will not arrive until Tuesday (Ruhl bee supply gets their
    order of queens in every Tuesday). So if I wait, the hive may have a weak
    queen for up to a week and a half, which seems pretty bad considering the small
    number of bees I currently have.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    168

    Default Re: Requeen original hive after big swarm?

    I do not believe that an ordered queen (unless it is local) is worth a squat, so judge my response with that in mind.

    I have rarely seen a hive go queenless during a Spring swarm (a July swarm is a different matter.) If I found brood, I would definitely not requeen them. Yes, you may have a weak queen (I seriously doubt it, although I do no know what the weather has been in your area over the last week or so), but it is unlikely.

    In all likelihood, you have a recently mated queen that has just started to lay. She is ramping up and (again, I do not know your area) it may not be during the prime flow. So, she is laying per the rate at which resources are coming in.

    I would let her run with it at best and, at worst, I would pinch her head and let them raise another queen on their own. I would definitely not order an unproven queen from a nonlocal.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Requeen original hive after big swarm?

    Quote Originally Posted by jajtiii View Post
    If I found brood, I would definitely not requeen them. Yes, you may have a weak queen (I seriously doubt it, although I do no know what the weather has been in your area over the last week or so), but it is unlikely.
    Weather was sunny in the 70s last week, rainy the week before, and cloudy this week. Necter flow was really good 2-3 weeks ago when fruit trees were blooming, but has started to slow down.

    Quote Originally Posted by jajtiii View Post
    In all likelihood, you have a recently mated queen that has just started to lay. She is ramping up and (again, I do not know your area) it may not be during the prime flow. So, she is laying per the rate at which resources are coming in.
    Ok, that makes sense that she would be laying at the rate resources are coming in. I wasn't really keen on ordering a queen, although I think Ruhl Bees gets their queens from somewhere in Washington (I'm in Oregon). My hive is from a local swarm, and I'd like to keep the local genes in tact.

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