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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    I am a relatively new beekeeper and caught my first swarm in early July. I thought for sure I'd got the queen in because all the bees happily moved into a nuc I'd set up and scooped a pile of the bees into.
    When I got them home, I searched for the queen but couldn't find her. There were lots of bees, so it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. A few days later I checked again and found no queen, no signs of eggs.
    Because the swarm had no eggs, brood or I thought no queen, on July 10 I installed a frame from my other hive with some eggs and open and capped brood. Within 3 days there were queen cups all along the bottom of the frame.
    July 21 - Checked progress on queens. Nice big queen cells. Bee count WAY down... Then, I see a queen walking across the frame. Not as big as my other, but definitely a queen.
    new queen.jpgbig queen cell.jpg
    July 22 - Other queen cells mostly torn open and now empty.
    IMG_7300.jpg

    Being that I only added the frame of brood 11 days prior to finding the queen what do you think happened here? It's not likely that by some miracle a queen was raised in 11 days is it?
    One theory is maybe the swarm had a virgin queen and after I caught them and hived them at home she snuck out on her mating flight and is now back?
    Would the bees have built queen cells while the queen was out to mate incase she didn't return?
    It's great that she's there. I haven't seen eggs yet, but hopefully she has mated. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Central Valley, CA, USA
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    Yes, most probably you had a virgin queen in that swarm. Wait another week and check for new brood! I am not even 100% sure those are queen cells in those pictures - maybe Yes but maybe just drone cells.
    I think you are on the right track - good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    if this hive is down to about 1 frame of bees left with a queen who isn't laying yet (but hopefully soon), should I be worried about losing too many bees before new ones can hatch?
    I was going to steel a frame from my other hive with capped brood on it but they are still building up and don't want to rob them too badly. Or, if I borrow a frame, can I take it back after so they can get their drawn comb back?

    Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    967

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    I suspect if you don't give that hive a boost, it won't be ready for winter in time to do well.
    I'd pull an undrawn frame from my nuc and swap it with a frame that's mostly sealed brood...which will be the first to emerge.

    I suspect that by the time your bees emerge the frame in the donor hive will be well on its way to being drawn if there is any flow.
    You could swap them back again.

    If it were my nuc, I'd feed the snot out of it, and as soon as the box is 80 or 90 % drawn, I'd move put a second box and five more frames on top...pulling a frame or two form below and putting new frame(s) in their place, and putting the drawn combs in th emiddle of the top box.

    A satck of 5 frame boxes 2 high should winter well, with plenty of food above for spring brood rearing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    I'm using 10 frame deeps. I'll need 2 full for a cold Canadian winter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    Or should I consider moving them to a Nuc and overwinter them that way?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    Earlier this week I moved a good frame of mostly capped brood from my good hive and swapped it into the weak one. Also, yesterday I watched the queen as she walked around and backed up to cells and her rear end was opening up to deposit eggs. I've never seen a queen lay before! The only thing was, it didn't really look like anything was coming out... If she is newly mated and just starting to lay is it common for them to go through a "testing out" kind of thing before things kick in to high gear?
    She definitely seems like a small queen. Not much larger than a worker bee. Maybe she'll bulk up yet... my other hives queen is notably larger than all the other bees.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Do the math.
    Well, the math tells me that this queen was there before and likely out on a mating flight because there was definitely not enough time to hatch out a new one.
    Last edited by Barry; 07-29-2013 at 05:55 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Victoria, Australia
    Posts
    660

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    The bees use a larvae that's a day or so old to make an emergency queen from. So you are already at day 4 or 5 when you add a frame of brood (of the 15-16 day process). So the maths says 11 days is exactly what you would expect.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    Quote Originally Posted by MattDavey View Post
    The bees use a larvae that's a day or so old to make an emergency queen from. So you are already at day 4 or 5 when you add a frame of brood (of the 15-16 day process). So the maths says 11 days is exactly what you would expect.
    I wondered if they would have started a larvae late... Thanks for clearing that up Matt! Always learning new things.
    So she still would need to mate then unless she caught some love from my other hives drones and came back quick. Either way ill just give it time and let nature take its course.
    I appreciate everyone's help.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,384

    Default Re: A new queen in my "queenless" hive

    >Well, the math tells me that this queen was there before and likely out on a mating flight because there was definitely not enough time to hatch out a new one.

    I agree. That is the most likely explanation.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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