backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2013
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    Cullman, Alabama, USA
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    Question backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    About a month ago, I pulled frames to start 2 nucs above a snellgrove board. one robbed outor abandoned, (twice), the other raised & emerged a queen. I saw the queen , captured, marked & released her. Then I could not find her, so I went looking for a frame with eggs for my basic "queen present ?" test. digging around in my carniolian hives ( from queens added to nucs last july) & discovered about 18 Queen cells in 3 hives.
    So about 10 days ago I made a bunch of nucs, 3 frames comb, & 2 empties, etc.
    Found the queen in one hive ( I am poor at finding the queen. usually eggs present is enough for me) but I found the Q in H-2, removed her to a nuc, made sure that nuc did not get a QC, & marked it as last years Q.
    Last Friday, I was digging out some QC for another Bee Keeper, found some of the QC were beginning to emerge, several had already emerged, several not, etc.
    So today, 5 days later, I am again checking status, find one nuc with eggs, find a fat queen in another,
    ( marked her) , several with queen not found. old queen from H-2 ( marked) is not found in her box, combs are pretty much filled w/nectar mostly, some pollen, but no eggs/or brood, maybe a few capped brood.
    Again I go looking for eggs, 2 of the three Carny hives appear to be queenless, despite my interleaving ( checker boarding) undrawn frames through out the brood nest. These _3_ hives are essentially broodless, but one has half a dozen QC in it.
    There is another hive with a different strain of bees ( I'll call them "grandpa" bees) on the rack beside them. I go through that hive & find 6 or 8 frames with multiple QC, but also backfilled & broodless.
    There are 3 hives I have not gone through. ( I do not work bees after dark. even the nice ones don't like it.)
    So what do I do now?
    Obviously, leave last weeks nucs alone. They will make it, or be combined.
    The very populous H-2 & H-3 ...back filled, no brood ... should I try to find brood in the 3 unchecked hives & donate some eggs? should I "even split" them? do nothing?( are they fixing to fly away?)
    Should I pull food & bees from these hives to form nucs with the cells I found in H-4 ( carny) & H-5(grandpa)"
    should I just even split H-4 & H-5, then cull all the "extra" QC to a separate nuc?
    Should I expect these bees to depart at any moment? would splitting them delay that? ( I am assuming they have virgin Q out "partying".
    Some one tell me what to expect, & what I should, ( & probably more important, what I should _NOT_) do .
    I would like to expand my hive numbers, and harvest honey, but I am a little overwhelmed & lost here.
    Thank in advance for responses. CE
    Last edited by tech.35058; 04-27-2016 at 11:49 PM.
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default Re: backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    I have to admit, I got a little lost trying to absorb all of the details you presented. But it would be my opinion that your hives with nectar backfilled cells and no eggs or brood, but multiple queen cells, have probably already swarmed. Sounds like you have done a lot of manipulation up to this point so I suggest just leaving them all alone for a while, let the new queens get mated and start laying, and then re-evaluate what you have. It might look a lot different in a couple weeks if you let them take care of things themselves. Some of these hives may already have virgin queens in them and doing too much switching around of frames and boxes might create additional problems for you.
    JMHO. Maybe someone else has some ideas.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #3
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    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    Yeah.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    Thanks for the responses.
    I was Thinking sort of along those lines, but all of these hives show no drop in population, so I don't think they have swarmed ... yet.
    This is the first time I have ever seen completely nectar filled comb & absolutely no brood or open comb any where in the hive. Maybe these bees will draw out some comb now, in their spare time.
    What I decided this morning .... Leave H-2 & H-3 (Carniolians) alone. If they swarm, I will learn from it & maybe some of the QC splits I made from them when I first found QC in them will grow to replace them. Same if the virgins don't make it back.

    H-4 (Carniolian) had also been interleaved with undrawn frames when I harvested QC from H-2 & H-3, & I did harvest QC from H-4 at that time, had 6 or 7 QC Wednesday night, This morning the QC 's are emerging. H-4 was 2 box stack of 8 frame mediums ... I took one of the remaining QC from the top box, added it to the bottom, "just in case", added top cover to bottom box, installed bottom board & top cover to top box (with at least one un-emerged QC) for a vertical split. I left the entrances on the same side as the parent, with a branch in front of it. We shall see what happens here now. I may swap top to bottom, but not for a couple of weeks. Give the virgins a chance.

    H-5(Grandpa bees) I pulled all frames with QC & made up 2 frame brood/food & 3 undrawn frame nucs , & moved to other stands 50-100 feet away with branches in front of the entrances. all of the nucs have robbing screens. this leaves H-5 with several undrawn frames in the bottom 8frame medium box, & 8 undrawn frames in the upper box.

    We shall see what happens next. I will try to update so every one can observe my "learning experiences" & gain the knowledge with out actually going through it.

    Oh, I did harvest a QC to replace the missing 2015 Q in that nuc. So now I wait.
    Thanks again for the responses. CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    Update ...
    With there being very little or no brood left in the hives , I wasn't sure the bees that went into the nucs would stay with their combs, typical bee behavior has been that they would go back to the old hive location. ( which is why I draped a branch over the entrances).
    The "vertical split" seems well populated, that looks ok.
    Only one of the nucs appears to be "thin on bees". Maybe I should give them another frame of beed from the parent, or move them back, & put them on top of the parent hive ....
    It looks like all of my hives that came through the winter queen right are either in swarm mode, or need diagnosing. The exception is the one hive that I split early above a snellgrove board.
    Good Luck with your bees ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    another update ...
    After scrambling to assemble a couple of supers, and frames, and hang & wire wax, I got back into H2 & H3 today.
    IT almost looks like nectar collection has ceased ... there still seems to be a lot of bees, but no or very few new frames have been drawn out.
    some of the previously collected nectar is missing, & there are 2-3 day old larva in H2, & eggs in H3, so all is well, I guess.

    Lesson ... When you see no brood & a lot of nectar, _do not_ tell your wife what a great honey harvest you expect!
    Good Luck with your bees ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  8. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: backfilled combs, no eggs/open brood, queen not spotted. what now?

    Quote Originally Posted by tech.35058 View Post
    Lesson ... When you see no brood & a lot of nectar, _do not_ tell your wife what a great honey harvest you expect!
    Good Luck with your bees ... CE
    Haha. What I do is to tell her to expect nothing because of:

    Bears
    Weather
    Requeening to invest in next years harvest
    Early frost
    Drought
    Excessive rain
    Bears
    Aberrant bee behavior (be careful with this one)
    Bad genes (which I'll fix in the spring)
    Bears

    Usually, the bear stuff is true. Actually, for the past three years it's been true in the yard right outside my house. The rest is probably true.

    Most of the time, the harvest is good.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

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