Failing split
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Thread: Failing split

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Failing split

    Looking for some advice here.

    Back on May 22nd I split a strong hive that was making swarm preps. I divided the frames with swarm cells into two 10 frame deeps and moved them to another part of the yard. I left the main hive intact and in place. The swarm was prevented and that hive is doing very well.

    I stayed out of both splits until June 22, which should have been plenty of time to have laying queens.

    On June 22, split one had eggs and young larva in a very nice pattern. I did not look for the queen, but she is definitely in there. That hive is now booming and is covering 8-10 frames and needs more space.

    Split 2 had no eggs on June 22 so I assumed a queen failure and added another 2 frames of eggs/larva to give them another chance. On July 3, I went into split 2 to check on their progress. Here's where it gets weird. There were no emergency queen cells on the donor frames, however I found an empty emergency queen cell on another frame. The side of the cell was torn open and it was empty. There were now some eggs, but the pattern was spotty. I also saw the queen. She appears to be a dink. Her wings are tattered/shredded on the ends. I doubt she could fly. I let it go hoping she was just getting going and was damaged on her final mating flight.

    I went back in yesterday and confirmed the worst. She is laying very poorly and a lot of drone. At the time I expected the new queens to be out on mating flights, we had some awful weather with numerous thunderstorms daily. I feared for the new queens. I'm wondering if I lost the original queen to bad weather.

    So here's where I am: The math doesn't quite add up for this split 2 queen, and I don't know why. Not a big deal, since it doesn't matter now. My dilemma is, at this late stage, do I pinch the dink and:

    A) Order a new queen
    B) Give them one last chance with a couple frames of eggs.
    C) Combine them with the other split.

    I'm leaning toward option C. That gives the queen in the strong split more room to lay. It turns a weak split and a strong split into a very strong colony. Finally it eliminates the risk of possibly taking a weak hive into winter. Were heading into dearth now.

    I think I've answered my own question, but would like the opinion of others.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Failing split

    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeyHill View Post
    Her wings are tattered/shredded on the ends.
    Might this be the result of DWV?
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Failing split

    It doesn't look like DWV. The wings are not shriveled/malformed as you would expect in DWV, but rather are damaged on the ends. They are fully formed, but are torn. I should have taken a pic of her. It looks like something might have got a hold of her, or she was fighting? No other bees show signs of DWV.
    Wondering if the OAV treatment I did to each split during the broodless period may have caused this?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,400

    Default Re: Failing split

    Could be she was attacked while on her mating flight but escaped and was able to return home. I would try option B. I think there is still time to make a queen from a frame of brood if you don't think she will cut it. If that fails, combining is always still an option a month from now. I would also consider moving her into a different nuc with a frame or two of bees, just to see what happens, while the other nuc makes the new queen. Sometimes they are a little slow getting going. I recently had one with a very spotty brood pattern early on that turned solid about three weeks later at the next inspection. Glad I did not pinch her.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
    Posts
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    Default Re: Failing split

    I discovered another option while inspecting a swarm I caught back in May. I'm not sure why, but they are superseding their queen. She has a great laying pattern and seems to be doing fine as far as I can tell, but today I found 4 supercedure cells, one capped, one nearly capped and two are charged with larva and RJ. I saw the queen and she seemed to be going about her business. They are not overcrowded and these are not swarm cells. I guess they know better than I do.
    Anyway, I'm thinking about brushing the bees off the frame with the two youngest cells on it and giving it to the split (I would pinch the queen or move her to a nuc first). That would at least give them a jump start.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
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    Default Re: Failing split

    I completely left out one very important thing:

    In the failing split, there is a queen cell started, one and only one, with larva and RJ. I don't know that I trust it though. Would the bees know if the egg was a viable queen candidate (fertilized or unfertilized)?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lake Forest Park, WA
    Posts
    553

    Default Re: Failing split

    Quote Originally Posted by SmokeyHill View Post
    I completely left out one very important thing:

    Would the bees know if the egg was a viable queen candidate (fertilized or unfertilized)?
    Last summer, a hive swarmed, leaving a somewhat small queen. I thought she was a virgin and got rid of other swarm cells (all capped). One week later, the queen was still small and I realized her wings were damaged, so I removed her. I also found several new queen cells with small larva, but all of them disappeared within a week, before being capped. I guess workers made queen cells on drone larvae, laid either by the defective queen or laying workers.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Follansbee, WV, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: Failing split

    Update:

    I gave the queen in the failing split another week to sort things out, just in case.

    This morning I went into the hive to discover nothing had changed. I found the queen on the next to last frame and pinched her. However, upon inspecting the frame further I discovered something disturbing. In a number of the cells, the eggs were not on the bottom of the cells and several had more than one egg in them. Is it possible for a queen-right hive to develop laying workers? My thought is that a very weak/poor queen might just allow this to happen. Or, is it possible the poor queen herself laid those eggs?

    Taking a chance, I found a capped queen cell (one of about 5 in another colony) on a frame in another colony and after carefully brushing all the bees off of it, I placed it in the failing split. If this fails, I believe I may just destroy the split rather than trying to correct a laying worker situation.

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