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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Newberry, SC
    Posts
    9

    Default 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    Hello All,

    I installed 2 - 3lb packages, each into their own deep super with exsisting drawn foundation that had been in the freezer. Colony #1 is doing well, producing plenty of brood, and is thriving.

    Colony #2 is only producing only drone cells. Zero worker brood is there. The queen is still present. There are 2 or 3 queen cells being constructed.

    These packages were both installed on April 24th.

    What suggestions do you have for the weak colony? Should I replace the queen with a bought one? snuff the old queen and combine the colonies? swap eggs, brood, and supplies to the weak colony from the strong?

    Thanks in advance for your advice,

    Stephen

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Essex, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    Sounds like your queen may not have been mated. If that is the case, then the queen cells are hopeless.

    You could cut away the queen cells, pinch the queen and put in a frame of eggs and young larvae from the strong hive, however since they are both newly installed packages, you will be weakening the strong hive a bit. My thought is to buy a queen and introduce her to the hive. That would likely be the quickest way to get the hive building up.

    A combine would leave you with one hive for awhile and later in the year you could do a walk away split to get back to two hives.

    So, you have a couple of options.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    713

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    I would go with your third idea. Swap out a frame or two of brood from your good hive once a week for a couple or three weeks to keep the population up. Then, just wait for them to hatch out those queen cells and make a new queen. I understand that it is not uncommon for a package to supersede their queen.

    I don't see any need to spend money on another queen that they might also supersede.

    Edit: now that I read Hokie's post, I understand your problem better. It didn't sink that you had ONLY drone brood in there. You can knock those queen cells down and give them a frame of eggs from the strong hive. Then, they might make a new queen for you. On the other hand, at this point you might not have enough nurse bees left to make that happen.

    So, you might consider buying a queen, but still give them a frame of brood here and there to help them out. At least until she starts laying.
    Last edited by JStinson; 05-16-2013 at 07:55 PM. Reason: Saw the light
    Try it. What could happen?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Newberry, SC
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    How does this sound?

    Snuff the queen, and the queen cells. Supplement the weak hive with eggs and capped brood from the strong colony (once weekly x3) , they already have at least 4 full frames of capped Brood.

    If I do this, would it keep them afloat long enough for them to rear a new queen? At the very least, afloat long enough to buy me time to purchase a new queen if they fail to rear?

    Thanks so much for your replies,
    Stephen

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Essex, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    Sounds like a workable plan to me. As an aside, our club mentor emeritus (a guy who really keeps up with current issues and news as well as serving as advisor and teacher to our and another club) reported this week that package queen failure rates appear to be very high very early this year.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Newberry, SC
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    Update: I have been unable to find the Queen in the weak hive for at 3 weeks now, and Drone production has slowed greatly. I am now on week 4 of substituting a frame from the queen right hive. The original Queen cells are in place, uncapped. I do not see any cups created on the frames that I have given them thus far. There is no new brood present. The queen right hive is now well into it's 2nd Hive body, and the queenless is still in one deep body. The population of the queenless is very strong (with workers), despite it's problems.

    I'm open to suggestions at this point. These are my only 2 hives, and they sit within 2 foot of each other.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Newberry, SC
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    The frames that are being given have eggs, larva, and capped brood.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,395

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    sounds like they think they have a queen, since they are not making queen cells on the frames you are introducing.

    they probably have what i call a 'runt' queen, a small non-mated or poorly mated queen that isn't laying, but makes the colony think its queenright. these are very hard to spot especially for a beginner.

    i had this happen in my first season, didn't realize it, and tried to introduce a bought queen which they ended up killing.

    the way i figured it out was to take a queen excluder and put it on the bottom of the box. i then shook out all of the bees and let them fly back in. once they were in i removed the box, took the bottom board aside and removed the excluder.

    i didn't see her at first as she wasn't much bigger than the workers. i noticed a few workers 'attending' to this one bee and when i looked close i could see that her abdomen was shaped a little differently. i decapitated her with my hive tool and more of the workers got interested in her.

    i put the hive back together, gave them another queen, problem solved.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Newberry, SC
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    That sounds like it's worth trying. If no queen is present, would you suggest combining at this point (splitting off later), or continue with supplying the frames from the queen right hive? Thanks for your assistance!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,395

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    its up to you, but i would probably get a new queen if i could and try to get both colonies built up.

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

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Newberry, SC
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 2 New Colonies; 1 weak, 1 strong (need advice)

    Just a little closure for this thread. I was able to find the problem queen in my hive. I killed her and continued to add a frame for a couple more weeks. My last inspection revealed a fully mated queen, with capped brood, larva, and many new eggs. I am very pleased, and the colony is doing very well.

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