Could this be a quenless hive?
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  1. #1
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    Default Could this be a quenless hive?

    First year beekeeper with 2 Warre hives: one with top bars and one with modified frames. I hived 2 packages on 3/31. Went to remove the queen boxes on 4/5 and found a dead queen covered in a cluster of dead bees in the top bar warre. I initially blamed myself and assumed the queen got too cold since I hived them 2 weeks earlier than I should have for MA. I was planning on ordering a replacement queen for this hive but now I'm wondering if perhaps the hive actually does have a queen. The bees have formed a nice tight cluster on the top bars and they seem to move with purpose at the entrance. They don't seem confused like the many of the books say. Also when I open the hive to feed them they don't sound particularly noisy. I didn't want to disturb the cluster to look for eggs but will do this if you think necessary.
    Bee cluster.jpg

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    I went into both hives today....and I think both are queenless!!!! Although bees are bringing pollen into both hives, I don't see any evidence of eggs or larvae. Certainly I'm a beginner beek and could've missed them but I think I need TWO new queens
    IMG_1883.jpgIMG_1878.jpgIMG_1877.jpgIMG_1866.jpgIMG_1862.jpg

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    I am certainly no expert but I have read Warre's book and I have kept bees before but it was a long time ago and with Langstroth hves. I have a Warre hive now and I am waiting on my bees to be delivered. I wouldn't say anything on here about your question if there seemed to be anybody else with more experience willing to help. Anyway, I thought I would share my thoughts on your questions. Please take them for what they are: opinions of an amateur -- nothing more.

    I would think that if you actually found a dead queen, then the hive would have to be queenless. Colonies are capable of requeeniiing themselves, but they absolutely have to have eggs to do so. I believe that eggs over three or four days old cannot be raised to be fertile queens. That info is available if you want to look it up. So if your colony is new and the queen is dead they couldn't have replaced her. I would get a new Queen ASAP.

    I wouldn't jump to conclusions with the second hive. If these bees have only been in the hive for twelve days you can't expect them to have many eggs and brood. Looks like they are doing great pulling out the cells and getting ready to raise brood though. Those cells are newly formed and the queen may have not started laying yet. I understand that young queens sometimes take a little while to start laying regularly. Remember, she's new to this just like you are. There's pollen stored in some of the cells too. Looks like the bees believe there is going to be brood soon. Eggs are small -- almost look like a white hair stuck to the bottom of the cell. In their early stages the larvae are tiny too. As long as these bees are acting normally I would leave them alone.

    Also, it seems like you are violating Warre's principles just a little. Inspecting was something that he was basically against. Going through the brood chamber just looking is definitely against his advice. He believed that if the bees were gathering pollen and acting normally at the hive entrance there was no reason to open the hive. The whole idea of the Warre method is to not disturb the brood chamber except on rare occasions. Requeening was one of those rare occasions. Queens don't produce forever and it is better to requeen colonies rather than letting them requeen themselves. That would lead to swarming and other problems I believe.

    So my advice is to try and requeen the first colony ASAP and leave the second one alone.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    Thank you so much for your reply, Roddo.

    I didn't want to wait and I ended up purchasing 2 new local queens that I introduced into both hives on 4/13. It was recommended to me to remove the (hopelessly) empty queen box a week later and to then check for eggs/larva a week later. Since I have been feeding my packages I have room above the top bars, so I placed the queen boxes on top of the topbars but under the quilt. The bees had full access through her screen to feed and hopefully accept her. I suppose if the other hive has a queen, my second queen will be killed. I feel bad about that but I think I needed the insurance that both hives have queens.

    You make a good point about violating Warre's principles. I was hoping to be more hands-off and let the bees be but became nervous when one of the queens was dead in her box. I do feel like I got a good look at the freshly drawn comb when I examined it but I didn't want to watch my hive dwindle after the worker bees all died off with no replacements. I was also confused by the behavior of both hives. The bees seemed relatively calm and were collecting pollen/nectar in both hives and I thought they would be more "upset" by the lack of a queen. I suppose they just carry on instinctively and it's also the nature of packages to be better tempered in the early spring when there isn't much to defend.

    Thanks again for your input!

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    I understand that dead queens give off pheromones for a few days that may account for the queenless hive's normal behavior while she was still in the hive.

    I am interested, though, in how this works out for you, so keep me posted.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    Check today. I've seen package queens take two weeks to start laying...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    Thank you for everyone's help. I inspected both hives on 4/29 and found capped brood and larvae in both hives!

    Top bar-only Warre hive: New queen introduced 4/13. Bees are drawing out comb on 7/8 frames in top box but haven't started in lower box yet; I think they're just starting on the 8th top bar. Although I didn't see the queen she has been busy. Lots of capped brood in what looks like a good pattern and even saw some drone brood on another frame.

    Modified-frame Warre hive: Michael Bush was correct. The original queen from the package was slow to start laying. Although I did purchase a 2nd queen for this hive, she was a Carniolan and was very dark. My package queens were yellow and I actually saw her on the 8th frame! (I was too excited to take a pic and afraid I'd lose her). The 2nd queen didn't leave her queen box until at least the 10th day. I think she just booked it out of the hive and hopefully avoided a confrontation with the other queen (at least that's my hope). All 8 frames have drawn comb and she was laying on the last comb in my top box. The bees are just starting to draw out comb in the center of one frame in the 2nd box.

    So I had 1 queenless hive originally and the other queen was just slow to start laying. I was hoping my queenless hive actually had a hidden queen that was tossed into the package unknowingly...but that wasn't the case. Package bees seem pretty docile in the Spring regardless of whether they have queens or not. Thanks again for the help.
    TopBarWarre.jpg2ndbox.jpgBrood.jpgTopBarBrood.jpg

  9. #8
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    Apr 2017
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    Default Re: Could this be a quenless hive?

    Beautiful.

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