2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen
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  1. #1
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    Default 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Second year beekeeper here and just got three NUCS 2 weeks ago.

    One has no queen or evidence of queen...just a lot of bees eating honey. No larva or capped brood. Also don't see any queen cells. The other two nucs seem to be doing well and have plenty of larva and capped brood.

    What should I do? Take a frame from one of the other young hives? Or try to find a mated queen and requeen?
    Last edited by lavalamp775; 04-25-2018 at 03:58 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Pulling a frame of brood from one of the other nucs wouldn't be a bad idea. If the nuc is indeed queenless they should start making queen cells quickly. The frame should have eggs and very young larva on it and and you want to make sure the queen is not on the frame you're moving over. After moving the frame over, check in 4-5 days to see if they are indeed making queen cells.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Thanks Matt. You think this would be a better option than trying to requeen if I could get my hands on a mated queen?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    where did you get your nucs from? The fat bee man near Gainesville often has queens. $25 a pop.

    Quote Originally Posted by lavalamp775 View Post
    Thanks Matt. You think this would be a better option than trying to requeen if I could get my hands on a mated queen?
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Quote Originally Posted by lavalamp775 View Post
    Thanks Matt. You think this would be a better option than trying to requeen if I could get my hands on a mated queen?
    Getting a new mated queen may be a good option as well. Timing is important (sooner the better) but this time of year should be easy-ish to get a new queen. A mated queen would give the nuc a jump start on building up compared to their raising their own. However, given the nuc may have been queenless for 2 weeks now, it's getting close to the workers starting to lay eggs (referred to as Laying Worker). Should be "Laying Workers" as the singular is a misnomer. A frame of open brood will buy you some time to get the queen thing sorted. I've heard it's around 3 weeks for the workers to begin laying if no open brood is present to suppress but a frame with eggs (and open brood) essentially buys you around 10 days. If you go the route of moving a frame over and getting a new queen, you'd want to tear down the queen cells as you don't want a virgin queen emerging with a mated queen already in place.
    Lastly, have you contacted the seller of the nucs? If you haven't done so already it may be worth a call to get their input. If I were the seller I'd do what I could to make it right.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    I think Matt in SC has given good counsel here. If you have a queenless nuc after this much time, I would add a frame of just eggs and brood asap. You can then either let them raise one or you can go queen shopping right away. The person you got your nuc from might be your first call for a possible queen. Good luck!
    “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13)

  8. #7
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Thanks Fred. If I can get a new queen in the next couple of days, would you go that route? The hive I'd have to take from is still a pretty young NUC so I'm worried about slowing the development of that one.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Quote Originally Posted by lavalamp775 View Post
    Thanks Fred. If I can get a new queen in the next couple of days, would you go that route? The hive I'd have to take from is still a pretty young NUC so I'm worried about slowing the development of that one.
    Another option to stifle the laying worker process would be to put the queenless nuc over or under a queenright nuc using a screen divider of some kind. I recently did exactly this with a mating nuc of mine that went queenless. The objective is to have the queenless nuc exposed to the pheromones and stimuli of the queenright colony. This should keep the queenless colony from developing into laying workers. If you’re nuc is truly queenless then you don’t need to worry about a double screen divider (the double prevents queens from killing each other) and a single screen divider will 1)allow the queenless nuc to get the stimuli from below, and 2)keep both nucs intact.
    I made my screen divider by making a four sided wooden frame (with an entrance cut in one side) and stapled #8 hardware cloth to that as the “bottom”. I placed that screen on top of the queenright nuc and then placed queenless nuc directly on top of that. So now I have two colonies stacked vertically. This is a temporary situation in that the colonies will need to be separated at some point but it meets my objectives for now.

    Lavalamp - if you want to discuss a bit PM me your number and I’ll give you a call.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Quote Originally Posted by lavalamp775 View Post
    Thanks Fred. If I can get a new queen in the next couple of days, would you go that route? The hive I'd have to take from is still a pretty young NUC so I'm worried about slowing the development of that one.
    yes, go with a mated queen if you can get one

  11. #10
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    I also had a package without eggs or larva at 2 weeks. But at 3 weeks it had larva. Apparently it contained a virgin who mated and began laying. The queen that came in the cage was released timely, but apparently was a dud or rejected.
    8 years, 8 hives

  12. #11
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    Default

    Ide contact your supplier if your absolutely sure they're queenless. Good luck trying to get a mated queen right now. Supplies are pretty much sold out until beginning of May.

    It's gonna be tough to bring them back. 2 weeks is long time and who knows if they've been queenless longer. If you can't find a queen, your talking at least 6 weeks of queenless until they may make a queen from eggs you give them. Not looking good.

    When I make nucs and lose a virgin or queen to mating. I shake em out / combine. I didn't pay anything and I don't have time to nurse them, it's not worth it. I cut my losses and add population to improve any weak nucs.

    If I was in your situation paying for nuc and supplier won't replace. I may try to pull a frame of eggs or young larva from another nuc and replace that comb with an empty comb from your queenless nuc. Eggs don't cost much at all energy to hive. I would do this at least every 7 days. This should not greatly impact your queenright nucs and will provide great benefit to queenless nucs. If you start pulling capped brood from queenright nucs, that will most definitely slow them down. If you don't start doing this immediatly then ide combine.
    Last edited by burns375; 04-25-2018 at 08:46 PM.

  13. #12
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    Default

    The other option if you're sure you're queenless and you don't have a virgin running around would be to do a newspaper combine with one of the other nucs. It will build up faster since there are more bees and you can find a mated queen at your leisure and split the resulting hive once you have brood enough for both. Adding a frame of eggs and young brood even temporarily would be the best way to prove if they are queenless. I agree that contacting your supplier would be the first step.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    If there is a virgin in there, she'll kill and introduced queen.
    Putting in a frame with eggs will show what's up, if there be virgin or not.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Put in a new frame of brood as well as a caged queen (still locked in plastic to observe behavior). Still nothing, but I think the bees might still be aggressive toward the new queen. are they agressive or trying to let her out?

  16. #15
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    If you put in a caged queen I wouldn't expect that they would make any queen cells on the brood frame. About the caged queen, there will always be bees on the cage. If they are aggressive toward her they will be sticking to the cage like Velcro most of them head in towards the cage. If they are walking around on it and can be easily moved with your finger then they have accepted her. I've seen that once excepted there are not as many bees on the cage. When she's not it's more like a ball of bees.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    here's a 14-second video of them around the cage.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IjJB-0wmQY

  18. #17
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    I would say if that's how they are acting when she's in the hive that she's been accepted. If they don't like her it looks like they are chewing the cage and they don't walk around like that.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    If lavalamp is not in a local club then they and all other should join one. Then when you need a frame of eggs and brood you should be able to get some resources. You need to reciprocate with others or compensate others for their work. Join, become active, learn and enjoy.

  20. #19
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    The way I can tell is you put the queen on the top bar. If they start coming up and fanning it's definitely queenless.

    As you gain experience you can usually tell a queenright hive from queenless. A queenless hive will fan alot and act frantic running around and unorganized. A queenright hive will be very calm and orderly going about it's business.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: 2 Week Old NUC, No Evidence of Queen

    Quote Originally Posted by burns375 View Post
    ...I may try to pull a frame of eggs or young larva from another nuc and replace that comb with an empty comb from your queenless nuc. Eggs don't cost much at all energy to hive. I would do this at least every 7 days...
    When taking frames with eggs, you *know* that the queen has been there very recently, and may still be on that frame, be very sure she is not.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
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