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Thread: I am puzzled

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Campbell River, BC, CA

    Default I am puzzled

    We have one hive a fair distance from home, on the farm of an acquaintance. We moved it out this spring, it was a fairly decent cluster of bees that wintered over in a single deep. They got a second deep when we moved them out, and within 2 weeks they had 6 frames drawn, working on the rest. We knew it would be quite some time before we got out there again, so we added an empty super. 3 weeks ago I went out there, and they were going gangbusters, 7 frames in the second deep covered in bees, and starting to build comb on a couple of the frames in the super. I didn't disturb them much, only peeked in from the top, after removing the super.

    Last night we went out to check on the progress, and, it was not good, but I'm a bit puzzled. When we got there, very little activity at the entrance, so my first thought was, they had swarmed. We went in and started looking at frames. What we found was

    1) Very high number of drones in the top deep.
    2) No brood in either of the deeps, none, except a scattering of queen cells in the bottom box.
    3) Bottom box had 4 open cells, all of which were open at the bottom. The 5th cell, was just starting to emerge.
    4) Little / no nectar anywhere.

    The part that puzzles me, if they started cells from viable brood, then, with the queen cell just emerging, there should still be some worker brood capped. When I look at the bee math page, queens emerge on day 16, workers on 20, so there should still be roughly 4 days of brood left capped. Since we saw the one queen cell starting to emerge, it seems to me, there should be _some_ worker brood still capped in that hive, but, we saw no capped worker brood, and, maybe a half dozen capped drone cells.

    If they had absconded, I would expect to find nothing, no brood and no cells. If they had swarmed, I would expect that with the new cell just emerging (it was cool to see her working on opening the cap), there should still be _some_ capped brood in that hive. There were 5 cells, 4 of which were open (all at the bottom like they had recently emerged), and they were scattered in random locations over 2 frames.

    How does one end up with a hive that has zero capped brood, but, queen cell emerging ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Phoenixville, PA

    Default Re: I am puzzled

    Had similar with my strongest hive this past season and suspect they swarmed, yours and mine. That was after making an early split, reversing and introducing empty frames. I'll be lucky to harvest 4 or 5 frames. Not much I can do beyond watching them build back up and helping with stores for winter.

    As far as brood, I read the queen slims down in preparation for swarming and does not lay prior to making off with her posse.

    Last year I had a hive that repeatedly swarmed until none were left. The colony nearby produced a nice harvest. Who knows.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Hampton CT

    Default Re: I am puzzled

    They swarmed.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Concord, CA

    Default Re: I am puzzled

    Don't forget the queen stops laying before swarming, so all the worker brood might have hatched out. Would expect you to see some capped drone brood in the hive.


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