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  1. #1
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    Default I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    I got a new nuc installed 12 days ago in a 10 frame deep hive and all seemed well, I did not see the queen (didn't look for her in all the chaos) but noticed a capped queen cell on the bottom of one of the frames (of course I squished it figuring it was a swarm cell ).

    9 days later I did an inspection and there were no eggs, no larvae, nothing in the centers of the original frames. I looked over the all 10 frames and NO QUEEN. I also have a carniolan hive, so I took a fresh frame of eggs (the queen was on it so I knocked her gently off back into her hive) and placed the frame in the nuc hoping they would raise a new queen.

    Here I am three days later and after another inspection they haven't touched the eggs! Some are neatly developing into larvae but no queen cells or cups are present?! Now what?!? Did I not wait long enough? Do the bees wait until the eggs hatch and THEN build queen cells? Is it because of the nectar flow? Are the bees just stupid or am I being stupid?

    -bk79

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    The frame of eggs you gave them--is it old dark comb? If the comb is too old and dark it may be too hard for the bees to manipulate into a queen cell. There is a way to help them work with older comb, but it is hard for me to explain. It involves sort of cutting out a part of a few cells that have very young larvae. I know that there is a good explanation of this online, but I can't seem to find it right now.

    If the comb you gave the hive had the right age larvae and the wax was new enough for them to manipulate it and "float out" a few larvae, then I am hoping that they are ignoring those larvae because you have a virgin queen in there that hatched from a queen cell you did not see initially when you first got the nuc. Have you found any empty queen cells apart from the one you squished when you installed the nuc into your woodenware? Maybe there is actually a virgin queen running around in there?

    It could be a few other problems, but these are my first two of guesses.

    Kyle

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    The comb is somewhat brown but is only 1 year old. I will do another inspection on Friday and see if I can't find her...if I don't see her or new eggs should I add another frame of eggs?

  4. #4

    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    You have a virgin queen in that hive. She will mate and start to lay eggs in about two weeks. Do not disturb the hive during that time.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    So it was likely that during the inspection she was out on a "flight"?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    >So it was likely that during the inspection she was out on a "flight"?

    They are very hard to spot even if they are there... they are small, fast and like to hide...

    Destroying the queen cell, of course was a bad idea. Giving them eggs was good insurance. And they apparently have a queen who should be laying sometime in the next two weeks or so.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    So they were smarter than me after all....

  8. #8
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Quote Originally Posted by beekeeper79 View Post
    of course I squished it figuring it was a swarm cell
    Don't beat yourself up over this, but you've learned a lesson that many times the bees have it figured out. Our role as beekeepers, at a minimum, is to not undo their efforts. Cutting out Q cells before they fully evaluate the situation is a classic reaction of many new beekeepers - one that I try to stress is rarely the correct action. Often these actions lead them to a queenless state. If they were indeed queenless and the frame you gave them had eggs and young larvae then they should have started Q cells since your last inspection. Given that they haven't started the cell, suggests that chances are good that they do have a virgin running around. I suspect that they will be fine. I'd give the nuc provider some feedback on the situation.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  9. #9
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Normally I would have left it alone BUT I squished the queen cell because I saw an empty queen cage on the top of the frames when I opened the nuc. I assumed they had been in the nuc long enough that they felt crowded and built a swarm cell. Ideally I would have located the queen before squishing the cell...

  10. #10
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    So was there a caged queen introduced prior to you getting the nuc?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  11. #11
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    It certainly appeared that way. The nuc supplier never mentioned how the queens were placed inside but there was an empty cage sitting right on top of the two middle frames.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    I've heard, but no personal experience, that some nuc producers will cage the resident queen to insure safe transportation. I really don't know how prevalent that approach may be. I suspect a more likely scenario is that a new queen was given to frames of bees and sold as a nuc. That's okay, I guess, but I'd much prefer that the queen in the colony has some association with the bees in the nuc and is directly responsible for the brood present. Hard to say what happened, but I still would touch base with the nuc provider. Again, seems like you probably have a queen, but you'll definitely need to keep an eye on this one.

    Good luck
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  13. #13
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Quote Originally Posted by beekeeper79 View Post
    The comb is somewhat brown but is only 1 year old. I will do another inspection on Friday and see if I can't find her...if I don't see her or new eggs should I add another frame of eggs?

    Year old comb should not be a problem. It is the 6/7 year old really dark, almost black, comb that might be a problem.

    I will defer to my second though in my first response to you (it is in keeping with most other responses you received). Of course, these thoughts from all us responders to your question is not a guarantee that you will go back in a week or two and find your combs full of eggs and larvae from a newly mated queen. But the information you give seems to indicate that you do have a virgin queen in there.

    I do agree with the response that this is a tricky time. If there is a virgin queen in there, you risk having the workers turn against her or scaring her/freaking her out if you look in there too much. I have no idea what too much would be, but I have heard that you should not mess with a hive form the time that you see a queen cell capped until a few weeks (maybe 3 or 4) later to see if she is laying.

    I am certainly interested in finding out how things turn out for this hive. If there is a virgin queen in there, I wonder what Michael Bush or other long time beekeepers would say is the appropriate wait time for you to see if she is laying. 1 more week? 2 weeks? I don't think you should leave it for a month--but I wouldn't know what to tell you.

    Kyle

  14. #14
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Quote Originally Posted by kyell View Post
    The frame of eggs you gave them--is it old dark comb? If the comb is too old and dark it may be too hard for the bees to manipulate into a queen cell. There is a way to help them work with older comb, but it is hard for me to explain. It involves sort of cutting out a part of a few cells that have very young larvae. I know that there is a good explanation of this online, but I can't seem to find it right now.

    If the comb you gave the hive had the right age larvae and the wax was new enough for them to manipulate it and "float out" a few larvae, then I am hoping that they are ignoring those larvae because you have a virgin queen in there that hatched from a queen cell you did not see initially when you first got the nuc. Have you found any empty queen cells apart from the one you squished when you installed the nuc into your woodenware? Maybe there is actually a virgin queen running around in there?

    It could be a few other problems, but these are my first two of guesses.

    Kyle
    Comb doesn't have to be new for the bees to be able to manipulate a cell into a queen cell.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  15. #15
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Comb doesn't have to be new for the bees to be able to manipulate a cell into a queen cell.
    That is correct, the comb does not have to be newly drawn for bees to use it to make a queen cell.

    "The inferior queens caused by using the emergency method is because the bees cannot tear down the tough cells in the old combs lined with cocoons. The result is that the bees fill the worker cells with bee milk floating the larvae out the opening of the cells, then they build a little queen cell pointing downward. The larvae cannot eat the bee milk back in the bottom of the cells with the result that they are not well fed. However, if the colony is strong in bees, are well fed and have new combs, they can rear the best of queens. And please note-- they will never make such a blunder as choosing larvae too old."--Jay Smith from the book "Better Queens"

    "I want new comb for brood, as cells can be worked over out of that, better than from old and tough. New comb must be carefully handled. If none but old comb is to be had, cut the cells down to one fourth inch in depth. The knife must be sharp to leave it smooth and not tear it."--Moses Quinby

    I still can't find reference on-line to what I read (and the photos) about helping the bees out when all you have is the really old harder comb. I suppose, if I were a very active person, I would use some old comb and make some photos and post them to show you; but I am pretty lazy, and don't have a digital camera (any excuse, right?). I have used this method once last fall, and the queen in that hive is really going to town!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    It has now been 14 days since I added that frame of eggs. All of the larvae/eggs that were in there are now capped but there are no new eggs, larvae in the hive and I did not see the queen. I did see a queen cell on the bottom of the frame of eggs I added. They don't have a lot of room left. I am wondering if its because:

    A - there is a queen but because she hasn't been mated and with the nectar flow on, they have just filled all the empty cells with nectar and so the queen cell is a swarm cell
    B - there was no virgin queen and they are raising a queen to take over the hive

    Thoughts?!?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Quote Originally Posted by beekeeper79 View Post
    It has now been 14 days since I added that frame of eggs. All of the larvae/eggs that were in there are now capped but there are no new eggs, larvae in the hive and I did not see the queen. I did see a queen cell on the bottom of the frame of eggs I added. They don't have a lot of room left. I am wondering if its because:

    A - there is a queen but because she hasn't been mated and with the nectar flow on, they have just filled all the empty cells with nectar and so the queen cell is a swarm cell
    B - there was no virgin queen and they are raising a queen to take over the hive

    Thoughts?!?
    I moved my bees home Wednesday. Thursday I opened every hive to inspect. Half of them had swarmed and were queen less. I'm about to the point of letting them stay queen less, and stop reproducing dumb bees.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    So what are the odds that its a swarm cell vs emergency queen cell....still no eggs or larvae anywhere.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    I have heard/read that if their are several queen cells it is more likely swarm prep, but if there are fewer, it is an emergency or supersedure situation. I am not sure if this is true or not. I have seen the bees half-fill the brood area with honey if a flow is on and they are waiting for a queen to be mated and start laying. Then when the new queen is laying they change things around again. Of course, you may be in the middle of a very different situation. I don't really have any advice for how you should proceed. I tend to fret about my hives when they are not doing exactly what I think they should be doing and find the hardest thing to do when they are in a situation like you describe is to wait and let them take care of themselves. This nervousness may have something to do with my first year of beekeeping and me letting one hive get so far along without a queen that I ended up with laying workers--not a happy situation. So since then I get pretty antsy when waiting for a queen to get down to laying.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: I think the bees are smarter than me but....

    Update: I found a laying Queen Today!!! My question is:

    April 25th: Nuc pickup, no queen present only queen cell (which I squished) and an empty queen cage on top
    May 4th: Eggs added from other hive
    May 18th: All eggs were capped, no new eggs, found 1 queen cell capped
    May 29th: Found a laying queen, a few drone larvae and a couple of capped queen cells

    A: Is this the orginal virgin queen that was supposedly running around or was this a new one they raised from the added egg frame on the 4th?
    B: Should I leave the queen cells alone or destroy them? She still has room to lay in the hive
    Last edited by beekeeper79; 05-29-2014 at 05:34 PM.

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