How soon to start balancing hives
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Medfield, MA, USA
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    53

    Default How soon to start balancing hives

    I had a single hive last year, it didn't make it through the winter, but I figured I had learned enough to double up this year and install 2 hives (which most beekeepers I've heard from recommend anyway). So I got 2 new packages, split the drawn comb between the two hives along with some new foundation for them to draw. Both queens were released by day 5, and I've spotted both of them moving around like they are healthy, but only one of them has taken to laying right away. Hopefully the other one will get to it in short order (I've heard it can be up to two weeks, been 4 days since release already), but the hive with the non-laying queen seems a little slower at everything, from drawing the new foundation to drinking the HBH sugar syrup.
    Question is, how far behind can I allow the one hive to lag without the stronger hive starting to make aggressive moves towards the weaker one? Should I switch out a frame of brood right away, or does that run the risk of the weak hive deciding to requeen instead of giving the one they have time to adjust? I'm sort of loathe to try moving brood right now anyway, since the hives are a good 20+ feet apart from each other and the temps are only poking above 60 degrees, I don't imagine that giving them chilled brood would do them much good.
    Should I just let nature take its course?
    Last edited by nschomer; 04-23-2015 at 09:40 AM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    1,694

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    When in doubt, do nothing.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
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    5,400

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    Am I correct it has been 4 weeks and the queen is not laying? I do not feel that is a do nothing situation. At this point you may be loosing house bees aging to foragers, I would do a thorough inspection If no eggs or larva I would order a replacement queen and be done with it.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lemont, Il U.S.A.
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    162

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    And give them a frame or two of brood from your good hive.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Medfield, MA, USA
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    53

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    Sorry Tenbears, just re-read my post and edited to make more clear, it's only been about 4 days since the queen has been released, not 4 weeks. I'm assuming this is ok for at least another week or two given the responses, gonna sit on it a bit (and hope for warmer weather in the meantime).

    Thanks all.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
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    5,400

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    You are fine 4 days is noting, just give them some time.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    1,694

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    Am I correct it has been 4 weeks and the queen is not laying? I do not feel that is a do nothing situation. At this point you may be loosing house bees aging to foragers, I would do a thorough inspection If no eggs or larva I would order a replacement queen and be done with it.
    I think he said 4 days. could be confusing.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Medfield, MA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    So I revisited this hive on Saturday, taking advantage of the first good weather we've had in a while, and I think the queen is in the process of being superceded. I saw two open queen supercedure cells, and two more larvae on the same frame sitting in a milky substance I can only assume is royal jelly. I didn't see any larvae anywhere else, so is it possible that this queen, before giving up the ghost, managed to lay a grand total of 4 eggs (2 each on 2 separate occasions)? I inspected each frame before giving it to the hive, so these are new queen cells, not old opened ones, and there is still, despite feeding, plenty of room for laying if she was so inclined...
    Starting to get late in the game though, this package was installed Apr. 13th, even though there are a couple real warm days now and weather looks good for the next week, figure ideally if I didn't manage to crush the virgin queen in the course of my inspection, she should get laying within the next couple days...so new brood emerging around the end of this month, are there even going to be enough nurse bees left to get that brood hatched, or is this hive already dead?
    I figure the fact that I didn't see any other eggs at least means there are no laying workers, and I think the old queen is actually still alive, since the hive doesn't seem to be freaking out.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    1,601

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    Grab a frame of eggs and young larvae from the stronger hive and place it in the weak hive. If they need a new queen then they will make it from this frame. The sooner you do it, the less likely a laying worker will start.

    Good Luck
    Started 9/13, building slowly, not trying the no treatment anymore

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Medfield, MA, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: How soon to start balancing hives

    Thanks, I stuck a medium frame partially filled with eggs in there yesterday, and saw new larva in the existing queen cells (4-5 days old). I had heard a theory that the bees will move larva from wherever and place them in the queen cells as needed, so I'm hoping the queen is just very mediocre but spit out some viable ones and I've already got some new queens on the way (or on mating flights).
    Anybody know if they will attempt to make queens out of unfertilized drone brood? I couldn't seem to find an answer to that with a google search, but was under the impression that if there were laying workers eggs would be all over the place, stacked multiples to a cell, and I haven't seen any elsewhere.

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