Re: Collapsed Comb, No guards, listless hive, WHAT TO DO?
That is exactly what I am doing with my queenless nuc right now. They had a first round queen hatch, but I guess she never made it home. So I took a bar of eggs from the hive with my original strong queen and gave it to them so they could try again. Upon checking last night they have at least one queen cup they are constructing in the middle of the frame. A cell in the middle of a frame is "typically" indicative of an emergency queen, which is their case. I emphasize typically, because when I originally made my splits, I stole the queen away to a different split, forcing the bees to build a new one. They pulled swarm cells on the edges of comb, instead of emergency cells in the middle of the comb. Don't let the definitions confuse you, just take it as a general lesson in beekeeping. Terms tend to get misused or ill assigned. Just because a cell is located in a particular position on the comb, does not 100% guarantee that it is a given type of cell.
Originally Posted by Keefis
Foragers that drift have to be accepted into the new hive by the guards. Typically though, this is not a problem, as a bee coming in with stores is almost always accepted. Once in the hive she will pick up the scent of that hive and become one of them. However, there is a chance that going out the next day she could drift back to the old hive or a different hive. Odds are however in your case, with only two hives, and one being queenless, she will tend to drift to the queenright hive based on it's smell. Bees use two senses to find their way home, sight and smell. So two hives in the middle of a field can look a lot alike, thus, defer to smell. And they will trend to the hive that has a stronger queen scent.
Originally Posted by SRBrooks
Your typical worker bee lives for around 6 weeks. On average it takes 3-4 weeks to have a queen hatch and mate, assuming you have fertile eggs to begin with. Eggs are an egg for three days, then hatch into a larva. It's during the early hours (I think within ~24 hours) as a larva that the bees must feed it royal jelly to make it a queen. If in that time frame it does not get royal treatment, that egg will become a worker. But you have to go back to the beginning. How long ago did the comb fall and possibly squish the queen? That should be considered time zero. In only a couple of hours, the bees will detect that they are queenless and start taking measures. So if larva were hatching then (as their likely was some) the bees would have picked them. If by some fluke you had no larva, then the bees will have to wait until a fertilized egg hatches to make it a queen. So there could be a three day gap, and up to 5 days before you would notice any queen cell cups.
How much brood/stores are in the queenless hive? As long as there are enough workers and food to sustain the brood, bees will continue to hatch for the next couple weeks, and you're numbers should stay relatively steady (aside from foragers drifting). As long as they have stores, I would not feed just yet, to prevent any backfilling of the brood nest. Then again I guess it doesn't matter if there is no queen to lay eggs anyway. But as long as they have food, it would just be wasteful to feed them IMHO. I've started feeding mine, but only because the new queen is outrunning the comb building, so I'm boosting their resources so they can pull comb faster. But I am not feeding my queenless hive.
So, I'd say you have up to six weeks. But you should know after just a couple weeks if they have a new queen hatched out or not. If you see eggs from the new queen, then your set. If you see that they raise one but she fails, like in my case, you may want to consider combining. I say that only because you don't know the exact date that that comb fell, and you could be 10 days behind already. So on July 2nd you observed what you think to be a queenless hive, but you don't know how long they've been queenless. You didn't mention any eggs/larva, only a few cells of capped brood. I think you said you didn't open the hive, so you wouldn't have been able to look close enough to see eggs or infant larva. So lets run on what we know. On July second they were queenless. If they start building a queen cell three days from now (assuming worst case scenario), then on July 14th, the queen will be past any risk of damage during sensitive development. At that point you'd be safe to open the hive and do a thorough inspection of the hive. If at that point you see no signs of a queen, I'd combine as you are already behind so much, I'm not sure you'd have enough life in your workers to raise another.
I know this is a long time to wait, and someone else may want to rebuke me on it, but keep in mind I'm running on worst case scenario, since you don't know when the comb actually collapsed, or how long the queen has been gone. I'd hate for you to crack open the hive during that development stage and possibly damage a forming queen. If you can wait that long, I'd just keep peeking through the window each day looking for details. The sensitive development is three days following the capping of the queen cell. So if by chance you somehow see a capped cell through the window tomorrow (not sure if that is possible) then you would know not to mess with the bees for three days following. Once they are past that three day window, you can do an inspection if you want to get a closer look at the queen cells and other activity in the hive.
I've probably said too much and confused you more. Sorry. Look up the queen rearing calendar published by thebeeyard.org. Enter in whatever date you wish for the graft date, that being the day that you think the bees may have started building a queen. Like I said, I picked yesterday since that is when you said you think you observed the hive queenless. She could have died as early as yesterday morning, you just don't know in your case. The calendar will help you understand where I was grabbing all these number from. Hope I did more help than harm here!
One package to 4 hives in 3 months. After 12 months I'm over a dozen hives and growing. Head over heels for bees!!!