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Hi all. I'm a newbie in Alberta, Canada and I have 1 hive and am looking for some advice! Here's a timeline and some details...
June 4: Installed a nuc into a Langstroth w/ a Ceracell hive top feeder w/ liquid syrup, and entrance reducer w/ large entrance hole. Noticed that unmarked queen had a dented thorax.
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June 17: first full hive check- spotted queen, brood and honey stores looking good w/ eggs visible, both outermost frames were completely empty of drawn comb, but found around 40 charged queen cells that weren't yet closed up along the bottom edge of a brood frame. Weather had been very heavily rainy and wet for a solid week, so I assumed that w/ liquid syrup and reduced entrance that conditions in hive may have been too humid and they were preparing to swarm. I took entrance reducer off, added a second deep box on top, removed the liquid feed, and destroyed all queen cells. Hoped that this would halt swarming activity.
June 27: went back in- eggs visible throughout brood, good honey and pollen stores and comb being drawn well. 2 of the inner frames had 12 charged queen cells along the bottom edge of frames. None of them were yet closed but they're clearly still working towards swarming.
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June 28: went in intending to destroy the queen cells, but saw queen and remembered the dented thorax and started wondering if it was a matter of replacing a damaged queen instead. Decided to wait on destroying queen cells, and instead just checker-boarded empty frames between all the brood frames for the time being, until I decided what to do.

My options as I see it are to
  • continue to destroy queen cells if they keep building and charging them, hoping they'll eventually give up. If they don't and they just prove to be prone to swarm then may have to re-queen
  • I don't believe the hive has enough capped brood to be able to do a split, so that's out
  • kill off the current queen and either a) let the hive re-queen from the swarm cells, or b) destroy swarm cells and queen and purchase a new queen.
I didn't taken any action today, decided to get advice and sit on it to consider options- I think I have about 4 days until they hatch. I would welcome input and suggestions at this point!! Thanks
 

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If laying pattern is good and you can keep tabs on the queen I would keep destroying the cells. They might have gotten the swarm impulse before they made their way to you and now they are just following through. My first year the same thing happened to me. I installed nucs and gave them the appropriate amount of space. Both hives swarmed on me within a month. I called a queen supplier looking to buy queens and he told me it's possible the nuc seller probably let things get a bit overcrowded before passing the bees on to me. After they were in my possession they just followed through with the impulse. I would inspect often and be thorough. All it takes is one cell, and if you ever find one capped it may be too late. Don't think the thorax is an issue.
 

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If you believe it is a replacement issue, I would split out the Queen with the dented thorax into a small split as insurance against the failure of the hive to successfully requeen itself.
Alex
 
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I vote for pulling the mated queen to a small split and letting the hive requeen (so reducing the number of queen cells that are left). And if the OP is concerned that there is not enough bees to make a split or even 2 frame nuc, bees with queen CAN be kept in the house in a screened butterfly habitat and given fondant or honey. I currently have a group in there since June 1 (including drones).

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