Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing
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  1. #1
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    Jun 2016
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    Default Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    My first year beekeeping and it has been a blast learning and trying to understand how and why things work. I couldnt imagine how people got started before awesome online help.

    I need some help figuring out what happened to my bees in a queenless nuc w queen cells.

    About 10 days ago, one of my new hives decided to make a couple of capped queen cells.
    Here's that discussion --
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...queen-Now-what

    Anyways, I took the frame with the 2 queencells complete with bees, plus another frame of honey/pollen/bees and an empty frame and put it in a nuc, gave it a feeder and went on vacation. I was expecting to come back from vacation in 2 weeks and find a laying queen.

    My brother was monitoring things and said he looked into the nuc today and said about 3/4 of the bees were gone, all of the frames were packed with sugar water with no room for brood, no queen was found, there was no more capped brood, and at least one of the queen cells had small holes in the side. He gave up and assumed everything failed and just put everything back in the main hive. There was no sign of robbing.

    I'm pretty sure there wasn't enough time for the queen to mate and return.

    What could cause the bee population in the nuc to fall so fast within a couple of days? Is it possible that a queen hatched, killed the other and then swarmed because there was no more room for brood?

    Could the bees in the nuc decided the queens were un-viable and moved back to the original hive sitting next door leaving the hatched nurse bees?

    what if he gave up too soon and there was a virgin queen on that frame and he just put everything back in the host hive? Would the host bees kill the virgin queen? Still doesnt explain where 3/4 of the bees went. hmm.

    Looking for thoughts and theories

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    You left the split in the same yard, most of the bees went home.

  4. #3
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    Feb 2011
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    Franklin County, PA
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    If the frames that you put in the nuc didn't have young larvae the bees may have just went back to the original hive. Without enough bees the queen may have not been taken care of and didn't work out. Perhaps that is what happened. When you split off a queen cell from a main colony some of the bees will go back to the old hive but the nurse bees that are with the larvae will stay. 2 frames of bees for split depends on the 2 frames. I like to see all stage of pupae and larvae that look nice and strong to go with a queen cell. I've had too weak of splits not do well especially when it gets cold all of the sudden. Since it's July I'm guessing that it was more a matter of the frames of bees being too mature to stick around. The queen cells sometimes look good but they for whatever reason just aren't. Sometimes when you put the frame with queen cells into the hive the queen cells get bumped and it damages the cells. It's tough to be sure what happened but perhaps my theory is a possibility. When there's no larvae or queen the workers will still get nectar. It sounds like the bees worked filling the cells but eventually went to where the old queen was at the old location.

  5. #4
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    Cazadero, California
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    If the cells were capped 10 days ago it's possible she hadn't emerged yet. She certainly wouldn't be laying yet.
    I'm a novice but I think I would have given them more capped brood and time.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    One virgin emerged and killed the other queen cell with a hole in
    the side. Then she got rejected by the worker bees thinking that she's
    not a strong queen after all. So the hive went queen less. Then all the
    foragers returned to the nearby hive to find their original queen. In my
    mating nucs I have a pollen/nectar frame along with 3-4 frames of the cap
    broods about to emerge. If they are a bit overcrowded then I'll put in a
    wax foundation frame for them to draw it out. You'll be surprised at how much
    comb they can draw in a day or 2 without any feeding.


    Wax foundation in a crowded nuc hive:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by beepro; 07-24-2016 at 03:49 AM.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  7. #6
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    Jun 2016
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    houston, TX
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    [QUOTE=beepro;1453920]One virgin emerged and killed the other queen cell with a hole in
    the side. Then she got rejected by the worker bees thinking that she's
    not a strong queen after all. So the hive went queen less. Then all the
    foragers returned to the nearby hive to find their original queen. In my
    mating nucs I have a pollen/nectar frame along with 3-4 frames of the cap
    broods about to emerge. If they are a bit overcrowded then I'll put in a
    wax foundation frame for them to draw it out. You'll be surprised at how much
    comb they can draw in a day or 2 without any feeding.


    I appreciate all the responses.

    It sounds like my workers filled up the frames with syrup, ran out of room and then went back to the host hive next door. the emerging bees were the only ones my brother saw. Most likely the first virgin queen emerged and killed her competition and then before she was mated, my brother dumped her into the host hive when my brother gave up.

    Question -- if a virgin queen was dumped into the host hive, will the host hive bees kill her off or will she hunt down the existing queen and kill her? I guess I will find out in a week when I get back into town.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    The foragers will fly back to the parent hive in a day or 2.
    The remaining bees or the newly emerged ones will fill up the comb with syrup.
    Usually the parent hive workers will balled on a foreign queen pass the 3 days time frame but
    with a newly emerged virgin they will not because she's still too young. Though she can hunt down the
    old queen to kill her. I had situation before that a newly emerged virgin queen will live with the parent hive
    for awhile until I went in to pick her out.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  9. #8
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    May 2015
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    Next time take the queen and some frames of emerging larva to the nuc and leave all the rest in the parent hive.
    You'll have much better luck this way.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  10. #9
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    Frame selection for a mating compartment takes a bit of attention. You need the bees that will stay with the compartment. My daughter worked very hard at trying to keep bees that simply kept returning home a couple of years ago. Much better at choosing frames now. capped brood so that new bees will emerge during the 3 weeks we leave queens to get mated. plus a fair amount of uncapped brood simply because the bees covering that frame are nurse bees and will stay around. It does not take a lot of bees to tend to a cell or virgin queen. Checking at two weeks often reveals the virgin has not even mated yet. Even when they are found mated only about half of them survive the flight. So I would say you either lost the queen during her mating flights or you brother placed a virgin queen in your parent colony. she will kill your laying queen. In addition be careful about returning mating compartments to parent colonies since they will also be very close to converting to laying workers.

    There is a fair chance the virgin queen is simply gone. We have checked 8 mating compartments in the past week and in every case there is a mated queen she has been obviously mated for more than 8 days. they already have capped brood. So that shows our queens are mated after two weeks in the compartment.

    Sounds to me that most likely you made an attempt at rearing a queen and it failed. it happens.
    Everything gets darker, as it goes to where there is less light. Darrel Tank (5PM drawing instructor)

  11. #10
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    Jun 2016
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    houston, TX
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    Yeah, as I think through it, it makes sense to do that. I was thinking it would be cool and easy to track the new queen in the nuc. I figure I will be learning my bee intuition for the next few years.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Where did my bees from my nuc go? Need help diagnosing

    Smaller compartments is one of the reasons but at best a distant second is ease in locating a newly mated queen. first reason is minimal bees required to get a virgin queen mated. Once they are I then provide about double the number of bees and more than double the space for her to begin building a colony. Compartments that have a queen fail to survive mating flights get combined with a compartment that did get a queen mated. Generally this provides a newly mated queen with a fairly strong 5 frame nuc. expansion to a 10 frame deep follows fairly soon. that is if the queen lays well and a couple of prayers get answered. At any rate I like small compartments with new queens mainly to make them easier to find. I sell some of my mated queens and a full size hive is simply not time effective.
    Everything gets darker, as it goes to where there is less light. Darrel Tank (5PM drawing instructor)

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