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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Queenless conundrum

    OK, last week I found a swarm hanging from one of my trees. I caught it and put it in a nuc, but unfortunately it flew away. I suspected it was from one of my two hives in my yard. So, I checked my biggest and strongest hive, and made a split when opening the broodnest, which I had not yet done and it desperately needed. I had a queen cell I have been growing specifically for this purpose. It was quite a bit of work, so I decided to check my second hive the next day.

    The next day rolls around and I open my second hive, which I had checkerboarded about a month ago due to it being honeybound from an early Willow flow. Big surprise! I could find NO eggs or queen, and only a small section about 3 inches long with capped worker brood. Everything else was capped drone brood or honey in various states of curing. Those bees were also much more aggressive than normal. I am guessing they are queenless, and doing the math, it would place them being queenless from around the 4th of March - right around the time of a sudden major freeze we had.

    Here is my question - Should I give my only queen cell to the split or to the hive. I fear the hive - even though it has a large number of bees, may be past the useful recovery point and my best bet would be to give it to the young up and coming hive. Letting the old hive pull in what honey it can and dwindle away would be the result. Buying a new queen would solve both issues, but none seem to be had for another three weeks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    You could maybe give a frame of newly hatched, open brood to the old hive...sounds like there *might* be a laying worker in there anywise, so I'd be pretty skittish about putting your only queen cell into a potential laying worker hive. If they'd be receptive of the new queen, they should also be able to make one of their own from the open brood :-)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    I am not sure about the laying worker. I had a hive like that last year and this does not look like it did. The capped drone cells are far to neatly placed and not scattered here and there. Looks to me like I caught it just as the last of the capped worker brood was just about done and the drones were still several days out. But you may be right.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    By the way, I did not find ANY queen cells in those hives other than the ones that I created. Not sure where the swarm came from. Maybe I missed one?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    1,310

    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    Possibly, are you sure the swarm was from one of yours? It's possible that the swarm was from somewhere else, 'tis the season, afterall.
    Also, if the swarm WAS from your hive, supposing it was from the weaker hive, could it be that there was a virgin queen in there who hasn't started laying yet (or, heaven forbid, who got eaten by a bird on a mating flight)? I'm FAR from an expert there, just throwing ideas out as they come to me. ...Any way you go about it, it seems to me like a little fresh brood wouldn't hurt anything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
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    2,031

    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    It's possible that the colony you think queenless is the one that swarmed, and you don't see any eggs or uncapped brood because the new queen hasn't started laying yet.

    I'd give it another week or so. If you still don't see any sign of a laying queen, add a frame containing eggs & larva from your other hive.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    OK, the plot gets deeper. Just checked the young split/hive I made. It has one uncapped queen cell, a queen cup, and what appears to be another capped queen cell along the edges of one brood frame. No sign of eggs, but lot's of brood in all stages. I think I will leave them as is for another week or so and see how it works out. As for the queen cell, It was due to hatch today, and had nowhere to go, so I put it in the hive I suspect to be queenless. At this point, I don't think it will hurt. If neither works, in a few weeks regular queens will be available to finish the job.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Queenless conundrum

    Those queen cells remind me a whole lot of swarm cells and not emergency cells. I wonder... I bet one of my hives did swarm and these are the afterswarm queens. The brood is from my feral hive after all.

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