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  1. #1
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    Default One of my packages is goofed up

    I just did a quick check on my 3 hives. Two are doing great with lots of capped brood. The other, a 3# package, hived on 4/15 is a laying worker hive. The only capped brood in the hive was drone cells. When I first checked the hive a few days after installing it, I found multiple eggs in most cells. I attributed this to an overly eager new queen. I laid eyes on the queen during the first or second check of this hive. Today there were 1 1/2 frames of very, very spotty brood and all of it looked to be drone cells. Deep cells and rounded caps. So, what do I do now?

    I've done some reading in the archives and saw where it was suggested to add one frame of open brood to the hive each week for 3 weeks, but I don't think I need to rob frames of brood from my other 2 new hives to add to this one. With the screwy weather we've had the other 2 hives only had 2 1/2 to 3 frames of capped brood.

    Any suggestions?

    EDIT: Will laying worker eggs hatch into drone larvae?
    Last edited by Brad Bee; 05-07-2013 at 05:40 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    check to see if you can find the queen. if she is still in there you have a poorly mated queen, and the package supplier should give you another one. leave her in there until you get the new one.

    if the queen is gone and you find fresh eggs, you most likely have laying workers.

    then it's a tough call given your situation. i would probably share some brood from the others. maybe one frame from one, then one from the other a week later.

    or, if the queen is still in there you could pinch her and combine those bees with your other hives.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #3
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Thanks for the advice. I will look again tomorrow for her. I may take another hive tomorrow and move one frame at a time until I can positively find or not find her.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    good plan, good luck!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    The planning isn't a problem for me, the putting it into practice is where the problems occur. LOL

  6. #6
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    I'd start with your supplier. My first package came with a non-laying queen. Rossmans shipped a replacement without question. I then nearly lost them to our summer dearth. I think the bee gods took pity on me and helped them through the winter. Since then through first swarms then splits that colony and descendants gave birth to no less than a dozen colonies.

    Then I'd try adding a frame with fresh eggs. Using Michael Bush's bee math check for queen cells later. If workers are laying or her highness has issues, they may raise a new queen on their own. If in the process you find a queen, I suggest sequestering her in a nuc or similar and patiently watch the situation. This may resolve your difficulty with little effort and no cost beyond a slow start and unlikely first year harvest.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Thanks for the reply. I'm really not worried about making any honey this year, I just want strong hives going into the winter.

    More questions. If I can rule out having a queen, would doing a newspaper combine stop the workers from laying.

    If I can get a frame or two of capped or open brood from a friend, how do I transport them to my hives without them getting too cool and dying?

    Which would be better to add tomorrow in order to suppress the LW pheremones, open brood or sealed brood? If I added a couple frames of sealed brood from another beek tomorrow and it suppressed the LW's then I could add an frame of my open brood in a few days so they could make a queen.

    Also, if I add frames of brood, would adding the nurse bees on those frames be good or bad? Not sure if the original hive would try to kill them or not.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    i'm no expert brad, but i'll try.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I'm really not worried about making any honey this year, I just want strong hives going into the winter.

    More questions. If I can rule out having a queen, would doing a newspaper combine stop the workers from laying.

    i've never tried it, but i think most would say no.

    If I can get a frame or two of capped or open brood from a friend, how do I transport them to my hives without them getting too cool and dying?

    you would want to have some nurse bees on those frames, it will be warm enough tomorrow and wednesday so that the temp should not be a problem.

    Which would be better to add tomorrow in order to suppress the LW pheremones, open brood or sealed brood? If I added a couple frames of sealed brood from another beek tomorrow and it suppressed the LW's then I could add an frame of my open brood in a few days so they could make a queen.

    you don't really need sealed brood. you need open brood with eggs and young larvae so that you can check for queen cells 4-5 days later.

    Also, if I add frames of brood, would adding the nurse bees on those frames be good or bad? Not sure if the original hive would try to kill them or not.

    good, they won't kill them.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #9
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Thanks for the answers. The reason I was going to add some sealed brood is that the age of the bees in that box is getting pretty old. I was then going to add a frame of open brood a day or two later.

    Before I do anything, I'm going to find out whether they have a queen or not. If they don't have a queen, I'm going to dump the box to remove the laying workers. Maybe after a day without them they will accept make a queen cell on the first frame of open brood.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    yep, it all depends on whether or not the queen is there.

    mike bush says he doesn't shake them out. have you seen this yet?

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beespanacea.htm
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    yep, it all depends on whether or not the queen is there.

    mike bush says he doesn't shake them out. have you seen this yet?

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beespanacea.htm
    Yes, I read it. I'm sure his method works, as he seems to be very knowledgeable. The only reason I was going to shake them out was to try and speed up the process of making a new queen by a week or so.

    EDIT: Actually no I hadn't read it. I had read his page about how to deal with a laying worker hive. I thought that was the same page, but obviously it wasn't. I guess I'll add a frame of eggs tomorrow and see where this goes.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Here's my thoughts for your last questions:

    The packages contain adult bees and all will have lived out their life long before winter. I suspect combining them with your other colonies will only add population today that may stress stores more than they forage.

    As far as transporting, at this time of year, you should be fine with a cooler in the car. My buddy successfully hauled a single frame from north central to south east PA so his struggling hive could get a new start. I think the bigger concern is cooking them.

    Capped brood will add fresh young bees, but again will not provide colony longevity for strong winter hives. Strong wintering colonies will only come from a laying queen with diverse population of mature foragers and young workers building and tending brood.

    I suggest not open brood, but freshly laid eggs. First day eggs will look like tiny grains of rice standing on end. Two or three days later they are on their side at the bottom of the cell. Both are difficult and near impossible to find if never before seen and wearing a veil. I could only see them after an inspector next to me provided guidance. These eggs are the candidates workers use to raise queens. Michael Bush's site provides guidance. The packaged bees will be around long enough for a queen to emerge and repopulate the colony as the package passes.

    As far as nurse bees, if the host hive is strong, they can only help. From my small scale experience over the past decade, I've never witnessed an acceptance problem.

    If it were mine, I'd work to get a productive queen and let them succeed or fail over including a growing colony in the struggle.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Thanks for the advice. I don't have any problems spotting eggs as long as I hold the cells towards the sunlight. If I pull a frame with eggs out of one of my other 2 new hives, I will replace that frame with a frame the LW hive has drawn. That way all the donor hive will be losing will be eggs. I won't rob more than one frame from either one of my other hives. They've had it rough since 2 days after their installation. We've had more days of rain than we've had days of sunshine since I put them in the hives. We've had over 12" of rain in the past 24 days.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    good points throrope.

    what brad has one his side is that we have just started our main flow here, and have a month or so ahead of us with lots of pollen and nectar available.

    since brad is more interested in getting three colonies strong by winter than producing honey this year, he has the right conditions and enough time to grow his colonies.

    the bigger problem he has with having a poor queen or being queenless, is that it will be a month before they start brooding again if he waits for them to raise their own queen. they will have a tough time growing during our pollen/nectar dearth this summer.

    if the queen is there, i think he should requeen with a new queen from the supplier, which should be provided at no charge.

    if he has laying workers, letting them raise their own may be the only way to salvage the colony. but it will likely mean syrup and pollen sub through the summer to get them strong for winter.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #15
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    I should be getting a new queen from my supplier early next week. I confirmed today, no queen.

    My plan, please critique........ The day that I pick up my queen, I am going to take the box 100 yards from it's spot and shake the bees out. I am going to allow the hive to be queenless untill the next morning and will install the queen then. My thinking is that the hive will realize it's queenless by then and will more likely accept the new queen because the LW will be removed for 14-16 hours...... Sound good?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    it's possible that the queen you saw in those first inspection wasn't mated and laid those drone eggs. did you see any new eggs in there today? if yes, then you have workers laying. if no, then you had a drone laying queen. i believe that laying workers are nurse bees that have never left the hive, and the thinking is that if you shake them out they can't find their way back. with package bees it's hard to know if that's the case.

    i don't think it will hurt anything to do the shake out, but some would say it's not necessary, especially if you have no more eggs being laid.

    it's still a good idea to put some brood in there until you get your new queen. if you do, remember to remove the queen cells they will start before you introduce your new queen.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
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    Default Re: One of my packages is goofed up

    Oh yes, eggs galore freshly laid today. One to three in each cell. I've looked 2 days in a row and have yet to see a queen. Like you said it's got to be laying workers.

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