What a mess, queenless?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    1,072

    Default What a mess, queenless?

    Today with the warm temperature I decided to inspect my two Russian/Carniolian hives. I have been very concerned if they were going to make it through the winter or not.

    General note: at the time of the inspection there were a lot of bees flying around, hovering and clustering along the seams of the boxes and hive tops. No fighting noted at the entrances. Not sure if it is robbing or what. It seems that during my inspection things got more out of hand. There were lots of bees flying around and crawling on the open boxes. In retrospect it was probably bad timing on my part. Chalk up one more lesson for a newbie.
    First I removed the honey super, set it aside with the bee escape to clear out the bees. The Bee-pro patty that I left between the super and top brood box is untouched. I worked my way through the upper brood box checking frame by frame. It is about half full of capped honey and there are several frames of open honey or nectar. The lower brood box is very light. There is no brood or eggs anywhere. I found the queen walking around on an empty frame with no attendants or anything around. I put her frame back in the box and continued removing frames, brushing off dead bees and scraping the propolis off of the frame rests and reinstalling them. I moved the box off of the slatted rack so I could dump off the dead bees, chewed cappings and scrapings from the bottom board. As I was reassembling the hive I noticed a cluster of bees next to the hive on the hive stand. It was the queen surrounded by several attendants.
    I used the bee brush to sweep her into the telescoping cover so I could dump her back into the hive. I watched as she went in and out of the tops of several frames before taking off flying out of sight. I am not sure if this hive will now be queenless. I checked the hive later in the afternoon and there were a lot of bees all over the hive trying to get in and there was fighting going on at the entrance reducer. This evening things are settling down. I noticed some bees taking off out of the hive and heading away from the hive. I am guessing that maybe the bees were somewhat able to defend their entrance when I first started working the hive. However, once I started opening thing up it was on and the robbing kicked in. Hopefully now that the robbers have returned to their hives with the booty my hive will be able to defend the reduced entrance again. I will no doubt start feeding if the hive gets too light.
    Now what about my queen? Will she find her way back or is she gone? She came with a package so I do not know if she knows her way around or not (or if that matters). I guess I will not know until I do another inspection in a couple of weeks. Maybe at that time I can open up my other hive and if there is eggs I can swap a frame. Otherwise I am tempted to order a replacement package for installation in April. Perhaps a queen sooner? What are your recommendations on where to go from here?
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Palm Bay, FL, USA
    Posts
    2,274

    Default Re: What a mess, queenless?

    Order another package or nuc. Get some new equipment ready just in case the queen returned to the hive. If she did return use the new bees to start a new hive. If she didn't return use the package to restart your present hive. If you don't want a second hive sell the unused package to someone else.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Thousand Oaks, CA USA
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Re: What a mess, queenless?

    This hive may well be a goner. I'm very skeptical about your queen returning. I'd order another package. (If you get it and don't want it, I'll come buy it from you, I'm within driving distance).

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,866

    Default Re: What a mess, queenless?

    Here's what I would try, and it's hard to guess what to do as you're in a different climate than me. It concerns me where all these robbers are coming from.

    First, order a new package. By the time it arrives, this hive may be all robbed out and abandoned. If there are any bees left when the package arrives, I'd drive all the old bees into the bottom brood box, cover with 2 sheets newspaper, set up the package in the top brood box and feed accordingly.

    I don't have much hope othewise, however, I've had swarms move into winter dead outs before I could back to that yard and clean out the dead bees.

    All the best,

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    1,072

    Default Re: What a mess, queenless?

    Thanks for the information
    At this point I am thinking of a couple of different strategies:
    I sent an e-mail to Tabers hoping to purchase another package of bees (I may just take up Walking Bird on his offer)
    I have a second hive that I could combine this "queenless" hive with now or I could wait, check the hive and see if the remaining bees have kept the robbers at bay hoping the queen has or will return.
    Install a package (won't arrive until April) in the robbed out and abandoned hive as Grant suggests.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Covington, Ga, USA
    Posts
    1,548

    Default Re: What a mess, queenless?

    On 3 occasions during the fall, i watched the queen fly away, most of the time she was a virgin. Only once did she not return....and actually she did, she just happened to be in an empty hive set to the right of her hive by about 5 inches. Its intent was to be a walk away split. Anyway, i watched and waited and within an hr or so, the bees actually split themselves into 2 seperate hives.....momma and crew on right, queenless on the left. I lef them that way, added some frames of brood to both and split them without ever touching them. Give them a day or so and carefully go look again......she could easily be there....
    "You laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh at you because you are all the same."

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Littlerock, California, USA
    Posts
    1,072

    Default Re: What a mess, queenless?

    Well, She didn't come back The hive was pretty much empty just a few robbers working. I put a bee escape on the bottom of the stack to allow the robbers to leave on their own accord. Now I am ready for the new package to arrive in April
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

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