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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    I have a bottom deep with feral bees and comb from my May cutout, and I thought they'd been doing OK, except that they hadn't been drawing much comb on the foundation in the medium upper during our summer dearth. So about 3 weeks ago I started feeding 1:1 sugar syrup from inverted quart Mason jars.

    I hadn't been in the hive for about two weeks, and when I went to look yesterday afternoon there was a big gyre of bees above my hive. I watched, mouth agape, for about 5 minutes until they settled into a beard on a nearby tree branch. Had they been balled up they would have been about the size of a softball, or maybe a grapefruit, so it was only a few thousand bees.

    By the time I had another box ready to go and try to catch them, they'd flown away to ????

    Anyway, so I went inside my hive to see what was going on, and I saw lots of bees, but no larvae at all. There was some capped brood, but no larvae, whereas I usually see lots of uncapped brood. So I've been queenless for awhile now.

    I did see several queen cells. They looked pretty much exactly like this photo, and I counted 6 of them. One of them had definitely been used because there was round cap still hanging off of it, and another one was still capped. The other 4 just had round holes at the bottom ends.

    4 of them were right in the middle of the frames, and two (the one with the hanging cap and the capped one) were hanging off the bottom of the comb. All 6 were peanut-shaped, and _not_ the little spherical kind.

    Have I been the victim of a standard swarm and after-swarm? Or does this look more like an emergency situation?

    How long should I wait to see new eggs/larvae, or should I buy a new queen ASAP? Does anyone have a good source for queens suitable for Los Angeles?
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,849

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    Sounds like queen got superceded and one of the virgins took off with a swarm, give it about 3 weeks to check for eggs or brood, two weeks maybe since they've hatched already.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    How does one tell, after the fact, whether the supersedure was normal or emergency?

    One more thing that I forgot to mention in my original post--while I was inspecting this morning I heard some high-pitched buzzing a few times. It was at least 2 octaves higher than "normal" bee buzzing.

    Does that mean anything? Or are those just the voices inside my head?
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    Quote Originally Posted by IAmTheWaterbug View Post
    How does one tell, after the fact, whether the supersedure was normal or emergency?

    One more thing that I forgot to mention in my original post--while I was inspecting this morning I heard some high-pitched buzzing a few times. It was at least 2 octaves higher than "normal" bee buzzing.

    Does that mean anything? Or are those just the voices inside my head?
    Well, it sounded just like this, so I guess that's "piping," and that there's a Game of Combs going on right now.
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    Sounds like queen got superceded and one of the virgins took off with a swarm, give it about 3 weeks to check for eggs or brood, two weeks maybe since they've hatched already.
    According to Bush's Bee Math, queens take approximately 12 days from emergence to laying, +/- 5 days. So your 2 weeks sounds consistent with that.

    If my queen was piping yesterday*, can I assume that she was very newly hatched? I'll check the last capped queen cell in a few days; if that's also open then I'll have a good sense about the timing.

    I know the answer is "it depends," but in general terms what's the window of time for a batch of new queens to hatch? e.g. do they typically all emerge within a day or two of each other? Or is it more like a week?

    * I wish I'd known what I was hearing when I was hearing it!! If I'd known that it was a queen I'd have looked harder for her. I don't have my queen clip yet, so I couldn't have caught/marked her, but I've had my hive since May and I have _never_ seen my queen yet.
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    In the event that the new queen fails and I'm too late with a new queen, what does one do with a failed hive while waiting for next year?

    Will all the capped brood eventually emerge? Will the hive gradually dwindle down to nothing? Or will they abandon the hive en masse?

    I have only one hive, so I can't transfer the remaining bees to a healthy hive. Should I shake them into a box and donate them to someone else? Are month-old workers of any use to anyone? They're of unknown stock (feral cutout) but they're not very defensive or aggressive, at least not to me .

    Anyway, I'm hoping the hive rescues itself so that I won't need the answer to this question, but I always like to plan for the worst :-(
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,350

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    In Southern California, for beekeeping, there really isn't much of an "off-season". So, waiting until next year -- is something you shouldn't really need to deal with. The beekeeping year is basically controlled by periods of "flows" (abundant honey bee forage) and "dearths" (limited honey bee forage) and not so much seasons, such as winter, spring, summer, and autumn.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    In Southern California, for beekeeping, there really isn't much of an "off-season". So, waiting until next year -- is something you shouldn't really need to deal with. The beekeeping year is basically controlled by periods of "flows" (abundant honey bee forage) and "dearths" (limited honey bee forage) and not so much seasons, such as winter, spring, summer, and autumn.
    But where would one get new bees in September if one's only hive were to fail?
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,670

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    You can still get queens from ohbees.com or from konaqueens.com just to name a couple places.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    I probably didn't word my original question correctly--if I requeen too late and don't have enough worker bees to sustain a colony, then what are my options?
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    So I inspected on Sunday the 31st, or exactly 2 weeks after hearing the piping, and I saw lots and lots of eggs!

    So it looks like the bees know what they're doing (and have done so for a few million years, without me), so I most probably won't be requeening.

    I'll check again on Saturday to see if I have nice fat brood.
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Palos Verdes, CA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Queenless in Los Angeles, mini-swarm. ???

    I did a quick inspection today, and I have at least two frames full of brood. About 1/3 of the brood is capped, and the rest is at all different stages of larval development. The laying pattern looks good, too, and by looking at the larva I can pretty much see her "path" as she walked through the frame, laying eggs. So my queen appears to be robust and healthy!

    I probably have more brood than that, but once I saw the two frames full I just closed it up.

    We'll see in a couple of weeks what kind of genetics I got!
    What on earth have I gotten myself into?

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