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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Sad Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    The short story:

    We had visual on the queen on Saturday, May 25th. The brood she’d first laid had started to emerge. Midway through last week I looked in through the window and saw more bees in the hive than we’d had since we received the package. Yesterday (Saturday, June 1st) we were doing a hive inspection and found, to our surprise, a capped supercedure cell along with a large number of queen cells along the edges of comb. Didn’t see any eggs, didn’t see any larvae. The bees were getting a bit anxious so we closed up. Went back out today for a thorough inspection. No queen. No eggs. Found some uncapped larvae scattered around. The uncapped queen cells were capped, with the exception of one that they were in the process of capping. Over half a dozen capped queen cells. We’ve seen very few drone cells in this hive. Don’t think they swarmed as the numbers of bees haven’t gone down—looks like they’ve gone up as more have emerged.

    No idea what happened to the queen, but apparently after the first week or so of new brood emerged they decided they didn’t like her and took action to replace her.

    We figure our options are to buy a new queen or let them raise their own. We decided to let them raise their own, which is good because the sources for queens I’ve checked don’t have queens available at the moment. Our second hive has been going like gang busters, so I plan on moving a bar of brood comb from there into Hive 2 later this week to help keep things going.

    Comments, suggestions, ideas?

    The long story and photos below. If my short story caused questions, you may find the answer to them here.

    Background: Hive 1 has done OK but has not been all that strong since the package was hived just over a month ago. They did quickly draw comb, but the combs are not near as large the ones drawn by the package we received an hived a week later. The package was not as large as the second one and we did have a bit of a die-off of unknown cause.

    The queen began laying like a champ-fairly solid brood pattern, very few drones. We were expecting the brood to begin emerging in large numbers last week. On the 23th of May, the Thursday before last, we checked the hive and we finally saw the queen for the first time. Brood was just starting to emerge. We saw her again on Saturday the 25th, when we took our granddaughters out to see the bees. Towards the end of this past week I went out and looked in through the window and was pleased to see that I could hardly see the comb any more. The population boom had begun.

    Yesterday we went out for our weekly hive inspections. In Hive 1 I was a little concerned that the front comb had not changed in size or shape since the week previous; the only change is that there was capped brood on it, but there weren’t any larvae or eggs. We started getting a bit concerned when we found some queen cells being built at the bottom and on the sides of some of the other combs. We looked for the queen but didn’t find her. We looked for eggs and larvae, but didn’t see any (but we weren’t aggressive about having the bees move out of the way, either. There was at least one capped supercedure queen cell in the upper middle point of one comb, and I think there may have been other capped queen cells. We were going to take a closer look but when we started to do so the colony began a bit of a roar and a few started “posturing” with their abdomens arched and their stingers pointing up. I’d recently read that as being a warning so we decided to close up. It was getting fairly windy, as well.

    Today we went back out with a plan. We were looking for the queen, capped queen cells, larvae, and eggs. We didn’t find the queen but we did find about a half dozen or so capped queen cells, one that looked like it was in the process of being capped, a number of queen cups with nothing in them, and a couple of uncapped queen cells with nothing in them but being worked on.

    This time we cleared away bees from the comb so we could take a good look for larvae and eggs. We found that pollen and nectar was being stored in empty brood cells and on a couple of combs we found larvae. The larvae was on several combs, but mixed in with the existing capped brood and pollen and nectar cells in a somewhat random pattern. We found no eggs, though we were looking with reading glasses and a magnifying glass to augment our vision. There was still a scarcity of drone cells.

    So, we know we had a queen on the 25th. Judging by the fact we had a capped supercedure cell a week later it is possible that somehow we injured the queen while showing her to the girls, but other than Rhonda jarring a bar of comb when putting it back (it dropped back into place) I can’t think of anything that happened out of the ordinary. It is possible that the bees had already decided to replace her and had begun work on that cell but we’d not noticed.

    Looking at the photos I took on March 23rd I find no evidence of queen-cell building, but there are larvae visible on the outer edges of some of the brood comb. These could have been made into supercedure cells that look like swarm cells.

    The swarm cells on the bottom weren’t capped yesterday, but for the most part are today. There are lots of queen cups as well. There were none on the 23rd when we did our previous inspection.

    Using Michael Bush’s Bee Math, the larvae tells me we had a queen a bit over 4 days ago. I don’t think it’s a laying worker because I didn’t see any eggs and neither did my wife. I will grant that, as new beekeepers, we may have missed them, but we were using magnifying technology. Since we have capped cells we should have a queen emerge within 8 days or so but possibly earlier because we don’t know how long the supercedure cell has been capped. I expect that one may be first to emerge.

    Options: We see our options as pretty simple: we can order a queen or we can wait and let the hive produce its own. Actually, it looks like we will have to do the latter. BeeWeaver doesn’t ship queens until the 10th, Olympic Wilderness not until July, and a look at a number of other suppliers doesn’t look good, either. I guess we’ll let the hive produce its own queen and see what happens.

    We do have Hive 2 going strong. Unlike Hive 1, they build comb from top to bottom and side to side, and they’re being filled with brood. I intend to move one of those combs into Hive 1 when the existing brood starts to run out.

    The photos:

    From Saturday the 25th, the first (that we saw) capped supercedure cell:



    Same cell on Sunday, with larvae visible around it:



    Another Saturday photo, queen cell on bottom of comb being worked on by a bee. This cell was capped today, along with most of the rest of the uncapped ones we saw.



    Sunday: A cluster of capped queen cells:



    Capped queen cell with mix of capped brood, larvae, pollen, nectar.



    Three more capped queen cells:



    Yet another queen cell:



    And apparently, we got the bee version of the finger for bothering them:



    Regards,
    Tom

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Like I have said before, I am fairly new to this so I am not the best person to advise but I would cull out the smallest of the queen cells and leave a few of the best looking ones. The first one they made in my nuc was really puny so I culled it out. The second and third look much better so I left them (they are right next to each other so hard to cull one and not damage the other). The last looks the best but isn't capped yet so that one probably won't win in the deathmatch.

    I opened the small cell that I culled and that queen was about drone size, definitely not a keeper. I have some queens on order for making splits so don't plan to keep whichever one suceeds but who knows, if she looks good and comes back I may just let it play out. Looks like our timing will be close. I am looking forward to reading how it turns out for you!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Hi, Colleen,

    I've also prefaced some posts with "I'm just starting out, but I've read a lot and this is what I've found." :-) Your suggestion is a good one. I'd been looking at that first capped supercedure cell and worrying that it would be first to emerge and not a good queen. We'll go ahead and cull it, at least.

    Thanks!
    Tom

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,069

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    >And apparently, we got the bee version of the finger for bothering them:

    Actually that bee is nasonoving. Just letting her fellows know where everyone is since there was a disruption. She's not angry or warning you. If she was warning you, she would be buzzing in your face and maybe headbutting...

    I would leave them alone. You should have a laying queen in about three weeks.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Thanks, Michael, but I think my reason is funnier! I did come across something somewhere that said it was a warning signal and at the time I didn't think it was right because I had a vague memory of it meaning something else. Comes from reading too many sources in a short period of time.

    We'll monitor the hive and see how it goes. So you don't recommend culling the smaller cell, then?

    Thanks,
    Tom

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Naturally, Rhonda and I have been wondering why the bees would have superceded their queen. In reading a post in the Bee Forum asking if the lack of drone brood was normal in first year hives, I started thinking about the fact that we had noticed the lack of drone brood in Hive 1 whereas Hive 2 had what appeared to be a "normal" amount. I went back through the photos I had taken of the comb and am hard put to find any drone brood. I wonder if that was the reason or part of the reason she was superceded? No way of ever knowing, of course, but I thought it might be a possibility.

    Regards,
    Tom

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Last year my package hive and mid-summer nuc both had almost no drone brood. This years package has made a TON of drones. This year's package started on comb from last year and they got right to work adding drone comb to it. At first I figured it was because in their last home they were restricted on drawing brood comb due to foundation. I then decided while that may have played into it at first I think it is a sign of a healthy hive. Seeing this years hive booming shows me how weak last year's hives really were. This year they are healthy enough to have the luxury of putting up drones.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,069

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    > So you don't recommend culling the smaller cell, then?

    I wouldn't. The size of the cell really doesn't mean much. Neither does the size of the queen.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3398436/
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Heavy going but interesting reading, Michael--thanks!

    We are going to just let them do their thing. They seem know what they're doing, anyway.

    In another twist in that hive, we've been dealing with carpenter ants getting into it. I managed to kill off (or mostly kill off) the two colonies in the trees on either side of the hive, but there still have been a small number of ants in the hive. I decided to try something I'd come across in one of the threads on carpenter ants and coat part of the legs with high-temp grease. When I went out there yesterday evening to do this, I opened up the hive where the ants had been and found there were still some ants... and a &*#$%$ American cockroach! With an egg sack hanging out her backside! I'd not seen them around before this. I got it out, and possibly a second one, and then coated the legs. This evening I went out and found three ants left in the hive, but that was all.

    We'll go do our weekly inspection of the hives on Saturday to see how they're doing.

    Cheers,
    Tom

    Cheers,
    Tom

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    June 8, 2013

    Looks like we may have a queen!

    Well, we don’t know for sure but we do know that the bees are busy tearing down the old queen cells, at least most of them. There were still a few they’d not yet started taking apart when we took a look today. So, if we’re lucky we’ll have a laying queen in 10 or 12 days or so, depending on the various factors.

    I did see one bee that I thought might be a candidate for virgin queen because her coloration wasn’t like those around her and she’s a bit larger, but I wasn’t able to get a good photograph of her. Unfortunately, near her in the photograph I did see something disturbing: a bee with shriveled wings, apparently with deformed wing virus. When I looked it up I found that it is associated primarily with high Varroa mite populations, but can occur in colonies without Varroa mites. Since this is a new hive with fresh comb and I’ve not seen any mites (I take lots of photos of the bees and magnify them—haven’t seen a mite on a bee yet) I don’t think that’s the problem. This hive has had very few drone cells, as well.

    That’s a quick update. I may upload the photo with the shriveled wing bee tomorrow.

    Cheers,
    Tom

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Josephine County,Oregon,USA
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    136

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Great news on the new queen Tango! After she finds the local drone congregation you may get true Survivor bees from the local genetics!!!

    "It is written" .......... That all North American hives can be assumed to have mites,period. I had a mishap with a new/soft/bottom-heavy drone comb one month into my beekeeping and a chunk tore right off. That was the incident that made the one guard so mad at me and I was darn lucky it wasn't a dozen guards! Anyway,feeling awful but wanting to get some good out of my horrid bump-tear-and-fumble, I decided to freeze it and inspect it.(freezing was a mistake because I learned larvae turn to mush,sigh, but that day I couldn't stand inspecting live larvae I'd doomed). It was drone on both sides,about 200, and only a few worker cells. I found 3 mites from my very new clean package and one larvae was pink-eye mature and looked Very like a worker not a drone, with a mite too. It only takes one robber or curious infected bee at your door to drop a live mite that climbs right onto one of your bees and starts the whole infestation. I take pictures too and watch with my reading glasses close at the window for long periods once in awhile and I've never seen a mite either. So a month later I did a 48 hour mite drop paper under my screen and came up with a count of One. If one drops it means who-knows how many are Really in there. I was glad to know I'd have to decide on treatment by the Fall or not. Standard mite count to be concerned is 50 I think(not sure right this minute). I dunno,but IMHO I'd Never rule out mites,even if it seems like an isolated incident.
    Anyhoo nice to hear of your happy update and it could work out for the betterment of you having a Much stronger hive to overwinter! If my bees swarm I'm going to look at it from a new genetics point of view too and not be sad. HB

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    118

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    You're messing with my denial here, HB! I was under the impression that once you start seeing deformed wing virus it usually meant a badly infested hive and I don't think I have that. But what I will have due to the supercedure process is a break in the brood cycle, which should cause a break in the mite's lifecycle.

    I've bought the materials I need to build a bar-holding frame like f4mnect's so I can more easily use a magnifying glass when doing an inspection. Right now the way it has been working is that my wife has been handling the bars while I handle the camera. It is difficult to do an inspection when someone else is holding the bar of comb and turning it so they can see better! I like to see things for myself, like most people, and in this case I've done a lot more reading and research into beekeeping than she has. I've been trying to make do by looking at the photos but it's hard to change your point of view when looking at a photo instead of adjusting your angle of view when looking at the real thing!

    Cheers,
    Tom

  13. #13
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    Feb 2013
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    Montgomery Twp, PA
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    160

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Have you tried rotating the bar yet?? I have had lots of success with rotating the bar upside down and just setting it back down on the hive. it frees up my hands to take pictures. Of course, I may not be as successful as the combs get heavier.

    Good luck with the new queen! My bees started a supercedure just about a month ago and I finally have new capped brood! I'm so glad things are back on track.

  14. #14
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    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    I've rotated one bar, I think, but that's it. I wouldn't want to try it with the comb in Hive 2; those are massive! The bees there build them out wall-to-wall and bar-to-floor. I'd feel much better hanging them on a frame than trying to rotate them.

    Glad to hear your own supercedure has worked out well! I hope that ours follow suit.

    Cheers,
    Tom

  15. #15
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    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Took a quick tour through the hive this evening. Found that all but one of the queen cells has for the most part been dismantled. The last one hasn't been touched yet. It's still closed. Doesn't mean the queen inside is still alive, I know. We've still got a while before we'll know if we have a queen or not.

    Cheers,
    Tom

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Don't disturb them until the queen starts laying, typically you want to stay out of the hive for 2 weeks after emergence of a virgin.

  17. #17
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    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Sounds like good advice, thanks! (But we may peek in the window before heading out on the bike to a rally at the Biltmore Estate next week.)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Tango Yankee, have you spotted eggs yet from your new queen or are you still staying out of the hive?

    I looked at my older nuc today and spotted some eggs at the bottom of cells and then the new queen. Yay! The eggs were leaning over so I guess that means they are a few days old but there weren't any larvae yet so she must have just started laying about two days ago. She is still fairly skinny too. I guess that changes as they get into their laying stride. I'm still staying out of the new nuc and the original hive.

  19. #19
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    Mar 2013
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    Lucasville, OH, USA
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    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Hi, Colleen,

    That's great news!

    I've not been back into my hive yet, but I think I'll be taking a look tomorrow if I can get to it in the morning before things heat up. I took a peek into the window today and saw... queen cells. That's one of those things that fall under the heading of "Things that make you go "Huh?"". So I think a closer look is warranted at this point. It started raining again at that point so I let it go for the day. I'll post tomorrow if I can get in and check it out.

    Great news at your end... I'm very glad to hear it!

    Cheers,
    Tom

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: Hive 1: Queen-right to queen-less in less than a week!

    Here is a pic of my new nuc queen

    DSC03034.JPG

    She is still pretty fleet on the comb so it was tough to get a nice shot of her.

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