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Discussion Starter #1
On May 28, my son and I hived a swarm, a 2-3 days later we added a couple frames of honey , one frame had a queen cell. We did not know if we had captured the queen.

They went right to work building comb the first week. Last week I saw plenty of larvae and thought we had turned the corner to a functioning hive. This week they have capped the brood and it is all drone. I do not have a lot of resources but since they are just starting down this dysfunctional path is it possible to requeen if I can order one soon? My assumption is a laying worker or drone laying queen.

The original hive that the swarm came from has no brood and has not for 2-3 weeks. It had other queen cells but I believe they were not viable as there is no sign of larvae, covered brood etc. I was hoping to give them a frame of eggs to start their own queen, but I have trouble seeing eggs! If I see larvae and covered brood can I assume there are eggs?

How do I get the bees off the frame? It is foundationless and not terribly secure.
 

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Bees often follow a virgin out of the hive and her mating flight turns into a swarm event. If the virgin doesn't mate, or mates unsuccessfully, her unfertilized eggs will be drones. I see this in some fraction of cast swarms (casts are the secondary swarms after the old queen departs). Its hard to recover these hives as the bees are aging by the time the syndrome becomes obvious.

Quickly drawn comb is often oversize (you see this at the top of foundationless), and drones are laid into these cells by default. I've been told this is a mechanical issue with the queen -- the eggs cannot be fertilized due to the extension of her abdomen to lay into the cell (this may be a folktale).

One half of Michael Bush's frames are PF's and/or RiteCell (see his msg's on this forum). Foundation is an efficient way to establish a broodnest. Foundationless is fine when it works, but in no small proportion of cases it is dysfunctional for a host of reasons, as you have discovered. Its like seatbelts == most of the time you don't need them, but they are lifesavers in the event. Start a hive with foundation, and you don't have to lose it to the rare adverse event. You lose "hipster cool" points for not being 100% foundationless, but you will have hives long after the hipsters have lost theirs.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfortunately, at the time, I had no comb to add, the hive that cast the swarm was not my own. I've never been hip or cool, just trying to start on clean comb. I also had no idea I would be offered a swarm as I had been a beekeeper for about two weeks. I did my best.

At this time should I try to find a virgin queen, remove her and combine with another hive?
 

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Any decision is process of balancing. "Clean" comb is a laudable goal, but it is balanced by its inherent difficulties and risks. Unfortunately, the promotion of this goal by triumphal posts on the i'net tends to discount the downsides. The "dirty" comb hysteria is a scare tactic of uncertain real-world import. Bees are tracking back pesticides from foraging. A reality check is needed.

At the present time you have 1) a purportedly queenless mother hive, 2) a drone laying swarm. Neither is viable. Possibilities are: 1) a queen is extant in the mother hive, just not laying yet. 2) queen is not extant.

If you purchase a mated caged queen, you can test for queenlessness in the mother hive. Place the cage as a test between frames -- if the bees rush forward to greet the new monarch, fanning and abdomens lifted, then the hive is queenless, and you can requeen it. If guard bees attack the cage with stingers down, and mandibles chewing the wire, then the hive feels it is queenright and will not accept the queen (even if she is dysfunctional).

You can search for the dysfunctional queen and dispatch her.

The swarm can be tested the same way (except you know it has a dysfunctional queen), but it is a good learning experience to observe the behavior --- just protect the cage from damage.

I would dispatch the dysfunctional swarm queen and use a newspaper combine to restore the mother hive to full complement (likely depleted) with the new caged queen as the monarch.
 

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>How do I get the bees off the frame? It is foundationless and not terribly secure.

A brush. You would have the same problem with new comb on foundation. It would be too soft as well. You would also have the same problem if you didn't want to damage a queen cell, or you have a heavy new comb of nectar or honey...

>Start a hive with foundation, and you don't have to lose it to the rare adverse event.

It is a mystery to me how a drone laying queen relates to foundationless... and I am at a total loss as to what "rare adverse event" would cause me to lose a foundationless hive and not one with foundation... how do so many discussions turn into a lecture on using foundation?

>Sounds like a good plan, I just hope I can find the dysfunctional queen(s).

There are many tricks that can help. Worst case you can brush them all off through an excluder. You can put an excluder between each box and look for eggs in four days to narrow it to one box.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I hate the brush because it makes them fly but I will get braver and wear more protection!
I still plan on being foundationless, as I have no plans to buy an extractor, but now I am cool.

The drone laying queen is in a single deep, so I will look for her with my son.

As for the mother hive I am planning on giving them eggs to build their Own queen.

I can't find any mated queens so the drone laying hive will be combined with some lucky hive after I find the queen.
 
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