Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Cockeysville, MD
    Posts
    12

    Default Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    I visited my hive yesterday & saw only a small amount of capped brood. No eggs or larvae at any stage. There were 2 queen cells in my hive but they were not capped and had no larvae. I am thinking that the solution here is to get a new queen?

    This hive had struggled with raising a well laying queen and also with being very defensive. I pulled the old queen out on 7/22 and I put the new queen in on 7/23.

    I revisited the hive on 7/26 and the queen had been freed. I did see a few queen cells forming on 7/22 & 7/23 and removed them.
    I revisited the hive on 8/2. It appeared as though a good capped brood pattern had formed. We were unable to see eggs (I thought because of lighting) but my friend did say that she saw larvae at different stages. I did see 2 chewed open queen cells & 4 capped queen cells during this inspection -- I did not remove them (which I feel like was probably a mistake).

    During this same inspection on 8/2, I saw that my OTHER hive had succumbed to SHB. The queen and majority of the hive had absconded.
    After that, I had upped my efforts against SHB in my existing hive (the one with the queen issues). I went into the hive on 8/4 & 8/6 to put oil trays into the bottom board, to clean the bottom board, insert Beetle Blasters, etc. On 8/4, I combined the remaining bees from the other hive with my existing hive (with newspaper & sugar syrup). On 8/6, I removed the newspaper and checked the oil trays. I did not go into the brood box either on 8/4 or 8/6 - I did however remove it from the bottom board and move it around while I cleaned & re-situated the hive.

    Then today, I finally inspected the brood box and saw what I have listed above. No eggs, no larvae, very little capped brood.

    I don't know if the queen died herself, from the other queens that might have emerged from the queen cells or from my messing around in the hive in my SHB reduction efforts (the good news is that the population has gone down since i put the trays in . . . ). Or, if she was possibly stressed so hasn't been laying. But, ultimately, I am concerned that there's no larvae or eggs, a small number of capped brood and no capped queen cells.

    I'm thinking that I need to get a new queen ASAP? Will that be OK with very little brood in the hive? I do not have any open brood or eggs from another hive to give to this one.

    At this point, I am very worried about the population dropping now and SHB really invading. I am also concerned about steps that I need to take to help my colony get through winter. I am located near Baltimore, MD. Any advice would be helpful!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Are you feeding them? Some breeds respond to a dearth by shutting down brood rearing as the resources are not available to support new brood. You can try feeding them and giving them a small piece of pollen patty and check back in a week to see if laying has resumed.

    Is the colony full of bees?

    It's unusual for a strong colony to succumb to SHB, so the colony was very likely struggling.
    When I first started, I ended up using the Freeman Beetle Traps and they helped tremendously to reduce the SHB as no other traps seemed to do the trick. I filled the trays with DE rather than oil.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Cockeysville, MD
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Neither colony really had a chance to get strong - within a month of receiving the nucs, they were both creating new queens. And, my existing one created a new queen at least one other time this season. So, essentially each month since I have had the bees, there's been some kind of a new queen - once introduced & the other times of their own making.

    I have a large brood box on the bottom and 1 medium super on top. The super is mostly drawn out but has very very little capped honey on it. I fed them until about the end of May but then started feeding them again about mid-July. In retrospect, I think I should have been feeding them the whole time. They have been feeding since I put the new queen in on 7/23.

    The colony felt as though it had a decent bee population, considering, but then again, most of the capped brood that I observed on 8/2 must have hatched between then & when I checked on the hive last night . . .

    Do you think I should just go ahead & get a new queen to place in the hive or give it a few days & see if a queen is in there but just wasn't laying? At this point, if they do need to be requeened, I think it would be better to put a queen in instead of have them make their own.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Cockeysville, MD
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Is it odd that there were only 2 queen cells and neither had larvae or were capped? I'd think that if there was truly no queen, they would have created a number of queen cells & they would have been capped?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    3,289

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    If the population is low its probably not worth it. They'lll just die out, no brood for too long. When a hive gets to a certain point its more practical for me just to call it done, save the comb from getting destroyed and start over next year with a split or swarm.

    The other hive likely did the same thing, only weak dieing hives get slimed by SHB. SHB is an after effect of some other problem.

    Why did they loose a queen in the first place? Did they abscond/swarm out, or never started well?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Uk
    Posts
    131

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Have you checked your mite levels?
    It could be one reason why the colonies are in trouble.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    336

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Queen cell versus a queen cup-- markedly different, so please clarify. Queen cells are expanded queen cups and are IN USE via the presence of an egg or larvae.
    Queen cups are just the starting base of a queen cell, ever-present in a colony and meaningless until in use.

    Are you a member of the CMBA? It's a pretty engaged club. Do you have a mentor? Have you had anyone look at your bees?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Cockeysville, MD
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Thanks everyone for your input. I got in touch with the person that I bought my queen from & he recommended that I treat for varroa and observe the hive activity to see whether that will help things. So, that is going to be my next step. He said that at this point, there's no point in even doing a mite count, I have them & I just need to treat.

    As for answers to some of your questions:
    - The hive just never started out well -- they didn't abscond or swarm -- and, any queen produced by the hive had issues laying. The hive was also always extremely defensive, which is why I finally requeened in few weeks ago.
    - I observed 2 queen cups when I went in on Weds. That's why I thought it was curious, because I figured that if they were, in fact, queen-less that they would have made a queen cup & it would have been capped.
    - I am a member of the CBMA & was in touch with someone from there + the guy I bought my queen from. My mentor is out of town, so I wasn't able to get in touch with him.
    - I have a feeling that at this point, the hive might not be able to be saved, but I wanted to try what I could to help it along, on the chance that they're resilient little buggers that really want to make it :-) If the varroa treatment doesn't help them get back on track, I will most likely salvage the frames and start again next year.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    1,747

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Quote Originally Posted by KMack View Post

    I revisited the hive on 7/26 and the queen had been freed. I did see a few queen cells forming on 7/22 & 7/23 and removed them.
    I revisited the hive on 8/2. It appeared as though a good capped brood pattern had formed. We were unable to see eggs (I thought because of lighting) but my friend did say that she saw larvae at different stages. I did see 2 chewed open queen cells & 4 capped queen cells during this inspection -- I did not remove them (which I feel like was probably a mistake).
    Unless I don't understand right, this written part tells me you had a released queen, then 6 days later you find opened and capped queen cells in the same hive. I would say you missed some cells on 7/22-7/33 inspection, so you put in a new queen when they were making a new queen for some reason. If so, the introduced queen has probably been killed off and there's a new queen going through the mating and getting ready to lay time right now. It should start laying in a week or two.

    Also, queen cups are almost always present and not to be concerned about.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Bergen County, NJ
    Posts
    904

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Severe disease (dwv, EHB etc) causes hive to go through multiple queen cycles trying to recover. I had one hive that had severe case of dwv. Apivar and two queens later is when they recovered. Dont give them too much room, cut down hive size if you dont see too many bees. Remove any pollen sub you are feeding to discourage SHB. Entrance reducers and liquid feed inside.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,550

    Default Re: Queen Not Laying - Next Steps?

    Sometimes the signs in a colony leave a clear history of what happened. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes workers tear down old queen cells, sometimes we missed a queen cell because it was hidden or built out from a worker cell and therfore does not appear to be full size. Sometimes we think it is A or B and actually it was A followed by B or it was C. Sometimes the bees try one thing and it doesn't go as they planned so they try another thing. You may have had a supersedure that was in process when you requeened and that queen may have taken over. If it was an open cell on 7/22 then it may have emerged about the 3rd or 4th and would be laying most likely by 17th or so but could be as late as the 24th.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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