Swarm now no queen...now what?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    augusta, mo
    Posts
    19

    Default Swarm now no queen...now what?

    Hi, my 3rd year with bees and I still have no clue what I'm doing!
    A few weeks ago my hive with 2 deepsea for brood and 1 medium overwinter great. Gave them plenty of food and also added liquid feeder last month and they kept taking all the 5lb of sugar syrup I could give them. I had lots of brood in all stages in the 2 deeps.

    Then last week my neighbor calls and says there is a huge swarm of bees going by from my yard past theirs?!
    Then this happened a 2nd time a week later!
    Pretty sure they were my bees.
    They seemed fine and had plenty of room and food so cant understand why they all left?

    I took the feeder off a few days ago and checked the boxes thoroughly yesterday as we finally had nice weather, (in Missouri)...still have a fair number of bees. But I could not find a queen I am not very good at finding her but I assume there is none because now I see zero brood in any stages on any frames...so that equals no new bees soon, right?! All the boards have mostly a lot of uncapped nectar/syrup, and what looks like pollen and some boards full of empty cells available for brood.

    What did I do wrong and what should I do now?
    I saw one big blob of cells but nothing that looked like an active queen cell anywhere.
    Do I wait for them to do their thing and hopefully make a new queen?
    Do I try to buy a new queen and get her in there now with the assumption there is none?
    How long will my bees last if no queen and will they definitely make a new queennif I just wait or could they just die out?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mooresville, NC
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    I am not the best person to answer this, but I will give you my impression of what you saw. What I am going to say, is based on my experiences.

    You came into the winter with a reasonably strong hive and lots of stores. It doesn't sound like you did any winter checks, or feedings.

    Here is an assumption, you had some frugal bees that didn't burn through their stores, and a mild winter that didn't tax them all that much. When you put on the feeder they collected it as they would have spring nectar flow and started into laying. Unfortunately, since they didn't burn through their stores, they back filled the brood cells with sugar syrup and either ran out of space to lay, or ran out of space completely. This is the trigger to swarm. They created a bunch of queen cells, that you didn't find, and when one got capped your old queen and 50-60% or the bees left with her. That is your first swarm. The queen cell that was capped and eventually hatched out and since there was still no space to lay, they cast again with the new virgin, or they simply left as robbers came to eat the rest of the stores.

    You need to keep checks on them through the winter to see where they are in the stores, and so forth. But once the queen is ready to start laying again, one must be in there to see that she has plenty of empty cells to lay in, and that the brood nest is not honey bound. Frames that they have back-filled with nectar can either be removed or at least shifted somewhere out of the brood nest.

    There needs to be triggering into wax production if you don't have empty drawn comb. Had you caught the queen cells or at least assumed they would be there, it may have been an opportunity to split (if drones were flying) by moving her and a frame of brood to a new nuc or hive and so on with whatever splitting technique you have interest in.

    Admittedly, I am not the person to answer your question with authority, but I thought I would share.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mooresville, NC
    Posts
    240

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    Oh, yeah, if there are no brood, they will not be able to make a queen. This is a point where one tries to add a frame of recent eggs and brood from a different hive, or if you have enough bees left, you could introduce a mated queen, as if you are letting them make their own, it is 30 days before you could expect eggs, and would likely have to add more bees or frames of brood otherwise. You can also simply combine this hive with another to not lose the bees.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    5,020

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    Nbstl68, can you provide the dates of the swarms? Check the brood nest and see if any of the combs have a section of empty cells in the center of all the nectar. Since there is no brood remaining, you may have a virgin queen or a recently mated one. The bees will clean out an area for her to lay in. Do not order a queen yet, let's look at the calendar to see where you are in the cycle.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    augusta, mo
    Posts
    19

    Default

    I was out of town this weekend. I don't recall seeing such an empty pattern in the middle of any frames but admittedly was not looking for anything in particular besides signs ofnbrood. As I recall cells were mostly empty or had uncapped syrup and a handful of frames in the deeps and the medium with capped honey or syrup. I assume since I had been feeding them syrup up until.last week. They two swarms my neighbors saw were about 5 or so days apart, the 2nd one Inwant to say al.ost 2 weeks ago if I recall correctly.
    I'll have to get back in there to confirm.
    I have 1 new frame where they were starting to draw wax. A fair amount of room to lay in the bottom deep But no signs of eggs, larva or capped brood.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    5,020

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    If the second swarm was two weeks ago, you should be seeing eggs any day now. One of my mentees just went through this very same senario. She missed seeing the primary swarm and called me when she saw the seconday swarm scouts checking out an outbilding on her farm. Hive inspection revealed numerous opened queen cells and very little remaining capped larvae. Was able to estimate day of emergence from that. Told her to wait two weeks and we would take another look. When we did, we found eggs and freshly hatched larvae on one frame and cleared areas on the facing sides of two more frames. The cleared areas were about 3" across. Have a look and see if you can find one. Use a flashlight to help you look for eggs if it is not sunny. If you do not see eggs by next weekend, I would order a queen.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    augusta, mo
    Posts
    19

    Default

    What do you mean by cleared area? I am going in the hive hopefully this afternoon to check every frame. Right now it is 2 deeps, a medium and a super, (with screen btw the super and the medium). There were basically no bees going into the super this week now but I figured I'd leave it on.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    2,816

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    When a queenless colony is in the process of raising a queen they fill the cells in the brood nest area with nectar or syrup. When they have a virgin that is mated they begin to move the nectar/syrup up into the food storage area of the hive. The cells from which they remove nectar will be in the circle "brood shaped" pattern and will have a dry look and the surrounding cells will still be wet with nectar. This activity is known as clearing, or drying cells in preparation for egg laying.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    augusta, mo
    Posts
    19

    Default

    Indidnsee a lot of cells in the brood area filled w uncapped syrup but the medium above was pretty full but mostly capped so not sure if that was old or new. Yesterday was high winds and today it is raining so not sure when I can get in next to be sure.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    augusta, mo
    Posts
    19

    Default

    Went in today. Lots of uncapped syrup/nectar but lots of empty cells too. Plenty of room to lay eggs but zero eggs or brood. I guess I need to buy a queen somewhere ASAP. Right now it is still sitting 2 deep, 1 medium and a deep super. Should I remove the super? No bees going up there tight now anyway. They have the medium super mostly full..I assume from the strip I was feeding them. About 1/4 of it was capped.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Jamesville, NC USA
    Posts
    125

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    Quote Originally Posted by Absinthe View Post
    I am not the best person to answer this, but I will give you my impression of what you saw. What I am going to say, is based on my experiences.

    You came into the winter with a reasonably strong hive and lots of stores. It doesn't sound like you did any winter checks, or feedings.

    Here is an assumption, you had some frugal bees that didn't burn through their stores, and a mild winter that didn't tax them all that much. When you put on the feeder they collected it as they would have spring nectar flow and started into laying. Unfortunately, since they didn't burn through their stores, they back filled the brood cells with sugar syrup and either ran out of space to lay, or ran out of space completely. This is the trigger to swarm. They created a bunch of queen cells, that you didn't find, and when one got capped your old queen and 50-60% or the bees left with her. That is your first swarm. The queen cell that was capped and eventually hatched out and since there was still no space to lay, they cast again with the new virgin, or they simply left as robbers came to eat the rest of the stores.

    You need to keep checks on them through the winter to see where they are in the stores, and so forth. But once the queen is ready to start laying again, one must be in there to see that she has plenty of empty cells to lay in, and that the brood nest is not honey bound. Frames that they have back-filled with nectar can either be removed or at least shifted somewhere out of the brood nest.

    There needs to be triggering into wax production if you don't have empty drawn comb. Had you caught the queen cells or at least assumed they would be there, it may have been an opportunity to split (if drones were flying) by moving her and a frame of brood to a new nuc or hive and so on with whatever splitting technique you have interest in.

    Admittedly, I am not the person to answer your question with authority, but I thought I would share.
    Spot on, if you ask me. Maybe you ARE the one to answer the question.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    5,020

    Default Re: Swarm now no queen...now what?

    Lots of empty cells does not mean a thing. They must be in the center of one or more of the frames to indicate the bees know they have a queen getting ready to start laying.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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