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Discussion Starter #1
Two weeks ago a swarm landed in an upside-down flower pot in my neighbor's yard. When I went to transfer them to my Langstroth box yesterday they hadn't started any comb yet, which I found peculiar. They had some wax deposits on the inside walls of the planter and they had been diligent about sealing up any holes. It was a small swarm, so when I transferred it I was able to given them a good look-over for the queen, but did not find her.

So here is (are) my question:
  • Can the lack of comb indicate queenlessness?
  • Is the virgin queen possibly still on her flight and I should give her another week to return? I.e. the colony doesn't feel the need to build comb yet, because there is not laying queen?

They were very calm and sounded harmonious, which is of course points to them not being queenless... I transferred them to my box, added a frame that had a mix of nectar, sealed honey and brood, and they attacked the honey/nectar as if their life depended on it. Might imply that they did not have enough food to make wax in the first place... The reason I ask the question is that I want to move the hive to my yard, but don't want to do so too early if the virgin queen is still on the road.

What do you guys think?

[This post might fit better in the Swarm section of the forum, but for some reason it doesn't let me post there.]
 

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You raise a lot of good questions. I don't know the answer, but it does sound like they are starving and thus can't make wax and might have a virgin queen. Probably a second/third cast swarm? I would feed and leave them in place for a week and then see what's going on. J
 

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I am also thinking start feeding them and see what they do. If they do not have food coming in they will not make wax or draw frames. It is also possible that they are focusing on the frame that you added. Did the frame you add have any eggs/larve? If not it may be worth adding another frame with a few eggs after the first one hatches out to see if they draw out a queen cell. I don't think adding another frame right now would end well because there may not be enough bees to take care of both frames.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good idea - that's what I did. Gave them 1:1 syrup and left them in place. The weather is going to be bad for the next few days, so the food will help from that angle as well.

When I put the syrup in at ~6PM, it was still an hour before sunset, but I have never seen a colony this calm (admittedly, I haven't seen that many colonies...). They were looking at us, and not a wing was flapping...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Quick update and another issue/question:

I checked the hive two days ago after leaving it undisturbed and found eggs - so we're good on the queenlessness question!

However, here is my new problem: I moved them ~48 hours ago by ~.5miles, locked them in for 40 hours, and placed a bunch of branches and stuff in front of their entrance when I let them out earlier today. I saw many bees doing relocation flights, but the old spot now has a baseball size cluster of bees hanging from a planter. Given the small size of the hive I am a bit worried - that's probably half the foragers they have...

Do I just let them figure it out? Or do I get a yoghurt container, try to capture (some of) them, and drop them back into the hive?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Capture and put them back in the hive. Most will get the idea.
 
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