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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just checked my hives today and one of my hives went broodless! :(

I don't know what happened.

July 3rd the hive was in perfect condition with capped brood and everything.

July 14 I inspected the hive and don't remember checking for larva or anthing, just that the hive was drawing out wax really well and looked ready for a honey super.

July 21 I took out the feeder and placed a honey super on the hive.

July 28 I checked the honey super and noticed that they didn't even touch it so I considered taking the super off and refeeding again.

Today, August 5th I checked the hive and found it nearly broodless and also saw a hatched/empty queen cell! And it also looked like there may have been a few more queen cells as well that had hatched.

I can't believe I missed this going on in my hive!

The overall population of the hive looked to be down a bit, maybe by 20% or so. Most of the frames are beautifully drawn out with honey framing the empty brood portions in the middle of the frames. There ARE probably 50-100 remaining capped brood in the hive scattered through the rest of the frames. I watched the thickest portion of the capped brood and saw a bee emerging. I also noticed at least one, maybe more queen cells that had hatched.

What is going on in my hive?

I figure my best case scenario is that the queen hatched and is off mating and will come back tomorrow and start laying eggs. Is that even possible? Is the hive too far gone for saving?

I know I'm supposed to keep feeding the hive a new frame of brood each week to keep the numbers up but I only have two hives and can't really do that while my other hive is fairly weak as well. We are apparently in a dearth so I've started feeding back up pretty heavily.

I assume that they simply didn't stop laying because of the dearth because wouldn't they have to lay SOMETHING? There's not one fresh capped larva or uncapped brood in the entire hive. And why would they make a new queen if not out of emergency? And a swarming hive would keep laying brood right? And it's not like they just left because there are still a lot of bees and tons of capped honey.

And here's another bummer, I'm going to be gone from tomorrow morning until the 16th so I can't next day myself a queen until the 17th or 18th.

Does the hive have a chance at all?
 

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Well I'm no expert but it sounds to me like you had a swarm!

This means the original queen with a good percentage of the bees is off making a hive somewhere else, and they left behind a ton of queen cells so that one queen will win the hive. After the queen emerges from her cell, it could be up to about 2 weeks before she's mated and laying. That means there's 2-4 weeks where no queen is laying, so of course you won't see any more open brood--it was all capped over shortly after the queen left with a bunch of the bees.

People say swarm queens (the ones created and left behind) can make the best queens. If the last of your capped brood is hatching, that means the old queen was laying about 3 weeks ago. I'd check the frames real well in a couple days to see if there are any eggs from the new queen--she should start laying this week or early next.

Best of luck with your new queen!
 

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It sounds fine. You'll probably have a laying queen when you get back on the 16th. If not, you can worry then, but it should be fine from what you've described.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
A swarm!? Aww, that's a bummer. I hope there IS a new queen in there getting ready to do some hard core laying... And I hope there are enough nurse bees to keep things going. I'm really surprised that they would have swarmed honestly. They were new this year and I think that they had plenty of room to grow. And I would have assumed that it was too late in the year to swarm. I'm new to this though, so we'll see. Hmm... Too bad I wouldn't have caught it!

I suppose this puts a dent in my honey plans for this year :cry:

I pulled the honey super off, added a sugar feeder back in the hive and now my plan is to check the hive again at the earliest date that I can... the 16th.
 

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It appears that you were feeding until July 21. Summer feeding can create problems like this.
 

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oregonbeek; there are a lot of educational resources available as far as printed matter and online material. Sounds like you slacked off on the learning end of this experience. If you had even the most rudimentary knowledge you would understand what happened to your hive. Get some knowledge! In the meantime, RELAX! Your bees most likely have the situation well under control. :lookout:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It appears that you were feeding until July 21. Summer feeding can create problems like this.

Uh oh, what does summer feeding do? Cause swarms or something?

I read in a variety of places that you can feed until they stop taking it, or to feed a new package until they draw out a lot of comb, or until you put a honey super on.

And it's actually the hive that I stopped feeding that is having this problem.

I feel like this is going to be one of those things that falls under the old axiom: ask 4 beekers a question and you'll get 5 answers...

If you had even the most rudimentary knowledge you would understand what happened to your hive. Get some knowledge!
Oh cruel condescension... What happened then? I had plenty of reasons to doubt that they were swarming. I figured a dead queen, for whatever reason, was just as likely.

In the meantime, RELAX! Your bees most likely have the situation well under control.
I hope so. A 98% broodless hive doesn't bolster the old confidence.
 

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I agree with Ray. Relax because it will probably be OK.

If you're really worried and you can't find any eggs, swap one of the empty brood frames (bees and all) from your worrisome hive with your other hive for a frame with eggs on it. If your worrisome hive is truly queen-less, they will make you some new queen cells. If your worrisome hive is queen-rite, you'll just be adding young bees (as they hatch) to care for the brood the new queen is or will be laying. This is why it pays to start out with at least 2 hives. Good job.

I feed (sugar syrup and pollen patties) my nucs and splits for as long as it takes to get a double deep about 70% full of bees. Then, I quit feeding when I put honey supers on. Keeps the girls from chewing up my frames of foundation and seems to build them up faster for overwintering.

Don't let the nay sayers get you down....they just forget all the mistakes they made when they started out. It's all part of the educational experience. Reminds me of some folks I was showing the hive to. Their 5 year old daughter asked, "so why do you have boxes of mean bugs?" There have been times I've asked myself the same question!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the helpful post Steve! I really appreciate it! I can't wait to go check it again when I get back from vacation. I will feel a lot better if I get back and see some fresh brood in the frames of course!

I love the 5 year old's comment! Sometimes kids have more common sense than we do! ;)
 

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We all still make mistakes... even with lots of experience.

COuld have been a supercedure- they replaced the queen and not a swarm. Is this a brand new hive started this year? When did you start and from what (nuc or package?)
 

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Hello OregonBeek,

I am eagerly awaiting your return from vacation and your next inspection... I was going to post a similar inquiry but upon reading this thread realized that the situation you describe is my exact predicament. During a mid-July inspection I noticed same conditions (few capped brood, no larva, etc... and queen cells at bottom of a couple frames). Not knowing fully what to do I quickly closed up the hive to re-group my thoughts. The best I can figure I missed a swarm on this bran new hive (early May) from package bees. Upon going back in for a more complete inspection a couple days later I confirmed vacated swarm cells and another with an emerging queen. Not sure if this was cool but I flipped open the cover to this queen cell and saw the new queen scamper off onto the frame. Quite amazing...

Not sure what caused the swarm. The colony was growing beautifully. More bees than I would of ever expected (being in my first year / first hive). I now have 3 medium brood chambers and 1 medium super all fully drawn out. Colony is definitely weaker since the swarm and I am now biding my time before going in and confirming a new queen is working. All kinds of things (as a newbie) crossed my mind including ordering a new queen, did I injure the one I released, did the other queens they produced survive, was there a laying worker... too many for me to make any decisions better than they could so I decided to let nature take its course. Though I am feeding 1:1 which they are taking.

I plan to inspect either 8/17 or 8/20... worst case scenario I guess is I end up with 32 frames of drawn out comb for the spring.

Looking forward to how you made out. :)
 

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A few details have been left out of the original post.
1. where were the queen cells in relation to the frames...how many...did you knock them down?
2. how many queen cells
3. in the brood boxes, how much of the frames had full honey and pollen and how much had capped brood
4. Now at this time in the brood boxes is there space for the new queen to lay eggs? Have they started to back fill the brood nest with honey?

A hive, be it a package or a nuc or a split or a wintered hive will swarm when it feels like it. It is a bee's nature. And when we fail to keep up our end of the bargin they will swarm if they are honey bound and the queen has no room to lay eggs.
This is where feeding syrup is a fine line in the late spring and in summer. When we have to feed them after the early spring, we feed enough so they do not store. When they start to store that is when we get into trouble.

My guess is they did not move up to the honeysuper as fast as they should have

In your post, you said they were ready for super on the 14th but you did not add it until the 21. In less than a week, if there is a good flow on, they can honey bound themselves and go into swarm mode. Once that happens, the hive stops working and goes into swarm prep. Once this happens it takes us to manipulte the hives to give them the space they need making the bees think they swarmed.

If on the 14th they needed a super and you did not add one, count 16d. That is the time for a queen to hatch. Add few days there since a swarm queen will leave if there are more cells to hatch. Once the last cell has hatched, count 2-3 weeks. This is the time the queen mates and starts to lay eggs. That is about 6 weeks from the start of a cell to the time she starts to lay eggs....now go and start counting....

oregonbeek; there are a lot of educational resources available as far as printed matter and online material. Sounds like you slacked off on the learning end of this experience. If you had even the most rudimentary knowledge you would understand what happened to your hive. Get some knowledge! :lookout:
Fishstix is right! You need knowledge...you lack the knowledge to know what is going on in your hive....start reading
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I guess I wouldn't have expected my new hive to swarm. I'm still not 100% convinced my queen didn't die for whatever reason.


A few details have been left out of the original post.
1. where were the queen cells in relation to the frames...how many...did you knock them down?
2. how many queen cells
3. in the brood boxes, how much of the frames had full honey and pollen and how much had capped brood
4. Now at this time in the brood boxes is there space for the new queen to lay eggs? Have they started to back fill the brood nest with honey?
1-2.) The queen cell I saw was on the bottom of one of the middle frames in the upper deep. I only noticed 1-2 queen cells but I didn't inspect every inch of the frames so there could have been another 1-2 maybe.

3.) All that hive now consists of is 2 brood boxes essentially... I'm running 2 10 frame double deeps. If lack of room caused them to swarm then I'm placing the blame on plastic frames because my bees absolutely hate drawing wax on the plastic frames. They draw comb everywhere but on the frames. (yea I know some people have ok luck with plastic but my bees loath them and love wax... which I discovered too late). Probably 10-14 of the 20 frames in the hive were very nicely drawn out with brood cells surrounded by pollen and honey. Only maybe 100 cells of capped brood remained, and those had bees emerging when I inspected them.

4.) They did not backfill and there was plenty of room for eggs.

Fishstix is right! You need knowledge...you lack the knowledge to know what is going on in your hive....start reading
I hope that's sarcasm lol. I've read books and watched infinite videos but had a specific question which you largely just answered! Thank you! :)

...Otherwise, other than to arrogantly puff yourself up for being a beegod, I see no reason to put someone down for not knowing something on a forum. People come here to ask questions. No harm in that I hope! Especially with beekeeping where there are 10 ways to do everything. Maybe they should extend the classic saying to "When you ask 9 beekeepers a question you get 10 answers and one person telling you you are stupid for asking the question." :doh:


Thanks for the note HobbyBeek! I hope to have a report up either Monday night or Tuesday night! :) And I hope to see plenty of brood!
 

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If the QC were on the face of the frames rather than the bottom or top bars it was a supercedure cell not a swarm cell.

Some of the things you might want to research is the difference between a swarm cell and a supercedure cell and an emergency supercedure cell.

You also might want to start to learn the "language" of your bees. Bees have a pitch that is basically standard. They also have a busyiness about them in the front of the hive. Bees coming and going.
When these pitches and the front of the hive starts to act different, learn these. They will tell you alot of what is happening.

If you are having trouble with the bees drawing on the plastic, coat the plastic frames with syrup 1:1 will do. Either by spray bottle or by a paint brush. Then place the undrawn frames in between the drawn frames. What i have done is place the undrawn frames from the outside in the center. My bees do not care what they have in place. They will draw on what they are given. Do they prefer wax better...sure. But the plastic will work, you just need to know how to make it work for you.

I think the definition of alot of space to lay eggs is relative. One persons space is another persons crowding.
To me, alot of space is 2-3 frames per brood box with very little in it. However, if the space is mixed with pollen or honey, then the bees sense not enough space...when a queen has to travel to find a place to lay eggs

A new package or nuc will swarm the same year given the right conditions.
Some of those conditions include hot humid weather, being hive bound due to inclement weather, and honey bound.

Lastly, if your bees right now are going about their business when you are in the hive, and if they are not butts to the wind when you open the hive, and if they are not scattering on the frames like chickens in a hen house that just got startled, and if they are not agressive, and they are quiet, you have a queen. Finally, if they are not packing in the brood boxes right now....you have a queen
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks again everyone for all of your help! I really do appreciate everyone's input!

Update:

I went out to the hives today and did a quick inspection (I only had 20 minutes). The hive that is broodless still appeared to not have any visible brood. I did see bees bringing pollen into the hive which I found surpising and initially encouraging because I read somewhere on here that bees bringing pollen into the hive is a sign that there is brood in the hive. But I went straight to the core of the hive, inspected a few frames, and didn't see any brood. I DO believe though that I saw tiny little eggs in some of the empty brood cells that I inspected very closely. I don't know if this means that my workers have started laying or what... I've been broodless for awhile so perhaps my workers are laying. But from the eggs I did see, it looked as though there was only one per cell and they were on the bottom of the cell and not the sides as worker bees would be doing... if I've done my homework correctly.

As per some of the suggestions in this thread, I still think that the bees in that hive are acting a bit weird, possibly running around a bit aimless like some have mentioned?

I had REALLY hoped to see brood or even capped brood by now in that hive but I didn't see hide nor hair of larva, let alone capped brood. Maybe there is a queen that just started laying today or yesterday or something... who knows. I'm not sure what to think at this point with that hive...

And then I checked the other hive, the one that hadn't been doing as well initially, and that hive is just going along great! Beautiful brood and everything... perhaps I should move a frame of their brood into the other hive?

Now a very noobie question: If I do move a frame of brood from the strong hive to the new hive, should I brush the worker bees off? Or does it matter if they make the trip with the brood?
 

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Remove all bees if you add a frame of eggs and larva.
I would caution against this if your winter is setting in soon. When i say soon, I mean snow by late october or november.
Queens start to shut down as the days get shorter. The bees that are laid now are the winter survival bees. Shorting a hive on winter survival bees could be the difference between a hive surviving or a hive not making the winter because the cluster is too small.
Now is not the time to shore up hives. Now is the time to decide if your hive will survive the winter. If the answer is a maybe or maybe not, shake out the bees, ensure there is no queen and let the bees shore up your other hives, or combine with the other weaker hive. I know it sounds defeatest but that saying...live to fight another day...if you combine or shore up, and they survive, next spring you can split and make up the loss
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks honeyshack. I'm still holding on the the glimmer of hope that there's a queen in that hive just waiting to build up some bees for the winter... I'll check again in a few days. But I think you're probably right and will at least hold off on adding a frame of brood until I know more.

That is really frusterating knowing that that hive wouldn't stand any chance at all going into the winter without a queen though :s I'd definitely pay the cost of having a queen shipped here if I knew it was going to do any good.
 

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Hey Oregon,

I did a complete inspection yesterday of my my similarly afflicted hive. About same exact result as well...

Worked my way progressively lower through brood boxes and (though it was VERY difficult to discern) I am confident that I had new eggs in comb on at least one frame. I closed everything up and decided to wait about a week and go have a look at that frame.

I agree with your thoughts. Why not wait the few days or week to see if those eggs hatch? Worst case scenario you still combine the two hives, but after you are 100% certain your colony would be doomed.

keep me posted.
 

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If you decide to move brood from your stronger hive, move capped brood (without attendants) that is already emerging. That will give your new queen some nurse bees to help with her new eggs. Replacing the borrowed frame with drawn comb will allow the stronger hive to fill it with eggs pronto, and it should not negatively affect their wintering ability.
One caveat: all beekeeping is local. You know better than I do how much time you have to save the weaker hive, and whether these manipulations may all be useless. But sometimes you just gotta try.
 
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