Queenless and honey bound
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Liverpool, NY USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Queenless and honey bound

    I checked on the hive yesterday and found the several empty queen cells, most on the bottom edges of the frames but one in the middle of a frame. There is no brood at all in the hive and they are back filling the brood frames with nectar. If I install a queen she'll have no place to lay eggs. I don't have any more brood comb, only some beat up honey super comb I planned on stripping out and replacing with foundation. How do I handle this? Slip a box of honey comb in there and let them deal with it? Extract the nectar from the brood comb and feed it back to them?

    There's a lot of drones in the hive but otherwise the population of workers is still very good.

    I wanted to replace the queen anyway, these bees were real angry and hard to work. The only thing they've been good at is gluing the heck out of my hive boxes and frames.

    Thanks very much,
    Andrew

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Richmond Illinois USA
    Posts
    109

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    It almost sounds like they already swarmed, and are awaiting the return of a newly mated queen. How does the population seem?

    When did you last inspect? When you say "no brood at all", it sounds like you have been queenless for several weeks.

    Last year, I had a hive that went from "no eggs" to "no open brood" to "no capped brood" to "panic ordering of new queen." When I opened the hive to install the new queen, I found lots of eggs and open brood. Chagrinned, I was. Turns out the bees new what they were doing.

    If they really are queenless, you must give them a queen. If they accept her, they'll give her room to lay.

    Good luck,

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Grant Co WV
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    First I would assess my queen situation. No Queen at all, Newly bred queen not laying yet, queen beginning to lay but no room. look closely at every empty cell. Before even thinking of adding a queen. after you find your queen situation you can decide on that. Extract a few frames to give the queen space to lay. when the queen begins laying add a super and feed back the nectar.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Liverpool, NY USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Records indicate I was there May 30th to put a honey super on (wax foundation which they didn't touch). Everything looked good at the time. I don't bother looking for the queen when there's eggs in the cells. Three small hive beetles.

    I get the idea she's not coming back because of the large number of drones and the fact that approximately twelve frames of brood has all emerged and then completely back filled with nectar.

    From my personal experience, once honey goes in the brood space it has to be removed so the queen has space to lay, otherwise she's out of luck. Because I don't have any decent drawn comb available I guess I'll have to extract the nectar in the brood comb and put it back in when the new queen is ready to be released.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Farmington, MO, USA
    Posts
    124

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    I watch honey and pollen bound scenarios during requeening, etc. in my observation hive. They will move uncapped honey and nectar pretty quickly once the queen is ready to lay. They really hate to move capped honey though and are extremely slow in doing so.
    If it is capped, extract some. If lots of it is still uncapped, put a honey super on over a queen excluder and the bees will move it, unless you just want to extract it.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Lumpkin County, GA
    Posts
    876

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Are you in a dearth right now? The queen will stop or severely reduce egg laying in a dearth. I made the mistake of thinking I was queenless and bought a queen which was balled when I introduced it.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    1,765

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    The saying goes, a newly mated queen after a swarm or split starts laying shortly after the beekeeper starts to panic.

    If the original queen takes off with a swarm about the time the first queen cells are capped, the new queen will emerge in 8-9 days. At that point, all the eggs placed by the old queen are probably capped. The new queen can take 3-4 weeks to mate and start laying. All the brood will be emerged 24 days after they are capped, drones take 4 more days than workers. There is often a week or so of no brood or eggs between queens in this situation.

    They also will move honey for the queen and even consume quite a bit used for the upcoming brood, since there's going to be less foragers and a lot of brood made to start over. Go ahead and extract some frames if you have no room at all.

    Wait a week more and check the hive. Also look for cleaned out and polished cells in some adjacent frames, which the bees do before the queen starts laying. You have a good chance they will be laying the next week.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Grant Co WV
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    DanielD Great advice! But reread. 24 days after capped???? did you not mean 24 days after the last egg was laid? Or 10 days after capped?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    washington, vermont, USA
    Posts
    375

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    I see my bees fill the brood combs with nectar all the time when they are waiting for the queen to mate. It's filling the cupboards for when she starts laying and they don't have the extra bee force to forage for their needs. The need for nurse bees will go up drastically as compared to the overall population shortly after the new queen starts laying. I would just chill till you see her starting to lay. If at that point she's got every open space filled and there is still a bunch of honey or nectar in the rest of the cells then think about spinning it out.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Kirksville, Missouri USA
    Posts
    1,765

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Quote Originally Posted by RTBBEE View Post
    DanielD Great advice! But reread. 24 days after capped???? did you not mean 24 days after the last egg was laid? Or 10 days after capped?
    Oh yeah, sorry. Thanks for clearing that one up. 24 days after egg laid. Make it 14 days after they are capped. The point was supposed to be that a queen emerges, then 2 weeks later the last brood. That normally is barely enough time a new queen to be mated and laying. I have seen a few queens start laying a week after emerging, and as long as close to 4 weeks.

    I remember looking for the first time at a hive of a friend's and found it with only spotty drone brood and thought it went laying worker. After I thought for a while, looked and saw no eggs anywhere, I supposed it was at that point after a swarm where only drone a bit of brood remained and left it alone. A week or so later there was new eggs and brood.

    To add to vtbeeguy's post, if it's a newly mated queen waiting to lay, extracting frames could disrupt the process and cause a failure of the requeening. There are plenty warnings about disturbing a hive re queening. I have had a few that were disturbed too much and were failures.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Liverpool, NY USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Thanks for the excellent advice, you guys are awesome. So I'll let it go a little longer and see what happens. I'll be away for the Independence Day holiday and back on Monday so (weather permitting) it'll be eight days since I was in the hive last. My biggest concern is letting it go too long and have laying workers take over. I'm not sure why there's so many drones in the hive now anyway, I figure about eight to ten per frame. Maybe that's not bad?

    Should I take a knife and remove the empty (used) queen cells? I would wait until the hive is queenright first.

    No dearth here in upstate NY. I don't think we ever have a dearth up here. There's always something in bloom somewhere and right now it's birdsfoot trefoil all over. They really like that.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
    Posts
    813

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    "Should I take a knife and remove the empty (used) queen cells? I would wait until the hive is queenright first."

    Hi Drew, Why,, Have a reason to do something. messing around with out reason may squish the queen, or something. Every time you open the hive you add disturbance and some risk. when the need is higher than these 2 issues, you go in and satisfy the need. What is the need to go in to cut off the queen Cells?

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,295

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Removing old queen cells is not a bad idea as it helps to avoid confusion later. Opening the hive up just for that purpose IS a bad idea. You have all the time in the world to do it and your next thorough inspection in a month or two might be that time. That would also be a good time to find and mark your queen.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Liverpool, NY USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    UPDATE

    It's been eight days since I was in the hive last. I still didn't see any eggs, but...... there was one C-shaped larvae on one side of the center frame and when I flipped it over there was one more c-shaped larvae. I figure they're both about seven days old. Totally random locations, surrounded by empty cells. I used a flashlight to really get a good look in the bottom of the cells and I had my reading glasses on. No eggs. The adjacent frames had plenty of nectar and bread.

    Got successfully stung once and multiple times that didn't hit skin. They're very aggressive.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,922

    Default

    If the larvae are scattered it may be early stages of laying workers.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
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    813

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew-NY View Post
    UPDATE

    It's been eight days since I was in the hive last. I still didn't see any eggs, but...... there was one C-shaped larvae on one side of the center frame and when I flipped it over there was one more c-shaped larvae. I figure they're both about seven days old. Totally random locations, surrounded by empty cells. I used a flashlight to really get a good look in the bottom of the cells and I had my reading glasses on. No eggs. The adjacent frames had plenty of nectar and bread.

    Got successfully stung once and multiple times that didn't hit skin. They're very aggressive.
    Very Aggressive I find to mean Queen less in my hives. So do a good inspection, If you cannot find a queen or lots of eggs then you are likely queenless. A couple larvae as Michael Bush pointed out could be laying workers. If they cap up into drones that would help confirm Laying worker

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    South Hamilton, MA
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    Add a frame of eggs + larvae from another hive.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  19. #18
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Greenwich, New York, USA
    Posts
    66

    Default

    I had almost the exact situation in one of my hives. I opted to re-queen with a marked queen since there were no queen cells. I did the “Velcro test” after a few days just to make sure they were accepting her. That is simply wiping the bees off the queen cage to make sure they weren’t trying to kill her. Since they accepted her it confirmed that there was no existing or virgin queen in the hive. They are now filling capped brood in the frames previously filled with nectar. You could put a frame of capped brood and eggs in the hive but it is getting late to expect results here in NY.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Liverpool, NY USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    BattenkillJB,
    What do you mean by "getting late to expect results here in NY"? Getting late for what? I thought they would have plenty of time to get back to normal.

    I like your idea of the velcro test, I'll do that and if it looks good I'll release the new queen.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,295

    Default Re: Queenless and honey bound

    It is getting late in the season to raise a queen from a frame of brood in an already queenless hive whose bees are starting to get older. Better to buy a mated queen and give them some brood to boost numbers. IMO.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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