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Discussion Starter #1
I installed two packages of bees on March 27. I checked 5 days later to make sure the queens were released which they were. Since then, one hive didn't seem to be "right", i.e. few workers coming and going compared to the other hive. Saturday we (an experienced beekeeper and I) went into the hives and found that the one I had worries about is full to the brim with drones. Frames are covered in drone cells and did not see any capped brood anywhere. The hive is also full of drones. I've researched this at length and am now more confused than before I started. My friend says to find the queen (if she's still there) pinch her head, wait 24 hours and replace her with another one. My concern is that there might not be enough nurse bees to tend to her. Other beekeepers advise combining this hive (newspaper method) with another hive. A couple of others say to introduce a frame of capped brood from my other hives every few days. Is this a judgement call for me as there doesn't seem to be an answer that is set in stone. Any advice to clear up my confusion as to what to do would be appreciated.
 

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A queen that is laying only drones was not mated properly (or has run out of semen). Drone eggs do not need semen, but worker eggs do need to be fertilized. A drone laying queen cannot be salvaged as she will not mate again after starting laying.

If there is no queen in the hive, then the drones are being laid by 'laying workers', as a last resort to pass on their genes.

Regardless of which of those two situations apply to your hive, you will find little agreement here as to the best course of action to get the hive back on track. I expect the range of solutions offered here will include the range of options you mentioned in your post. How much time and resources are you prepared to throw at the problem?

If you are concerned about a lack of nurse bees to tend to a newly introduced queen, you could add a frame of open brood with nurse bees from another hive along with a new queen (after removing the old queen).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
As I am going on my second year keeping bees I'm willing to put in the time and effort to salvage this hive. If nothing more than for the learning experience it will be worthwhile. I have 8 other hives, 5 of which are from swarms I caught this year. There isn't enough brood in them to donate to this hive (at least in my opinion and I could be wrong) so I'm open to suggestions.
 

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This is just my 2 cents, as I don't have nearly the amount of experience as other here. If it were me, I would take one of my new swarms and combine into that hive by way of newspaper combine. With that many drones, it would still be tough to start with a frame or two of open brood. If I were going with open brood, at least two frames.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I appreciate the advice from everyone. I am going to go back into that hive and examine it very closely before I make a decision as to what to do. I guess the only way to learn is by doing and I sure have been doing a lot of that lately!

Many thanks!
 

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If you are sure there is no queen or if you can find her and pinch her, I would combine, let them get straightened out and then split with a new queen.
 

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Karen
Your right about learning from doing. And there are lots of ways to do things.
I've had several drone layers and here's some of what I've learned.
Even when given eggs/resources they won't usually supersede a drone laying queen. You will have to kill her.
I used to try and save them by killing the queen and giving them eggs to make another which usually works but anymore I tend to take a different approach.
Their equipment is the valuable part. I take the hive, shake the bees off, after killing the queen and let them go into another hive. The nurse bees and workers will be accepted along with some of the drones.
This will give your other hives a small boost. When your other hives get strong enough to split you can put it in this equipment.

I've found when a hive is struggling it can be hard to turn around but a strong nuc can take right off.
This probably doesn't help you much.
Woody Roberts
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Again, great advice. Thanks. One question.....if I cannot find the queen which might not mean there isn't one...I'm just not seeing her, what do I do?
 

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I would try another tactic. Have not tried this myself, but faced with your circumstance, this is what I would do:

The excess drones are of no value to you and will just be a burden on resources for your other hives. Removing them will be in your best interest. So, let's get rid of them!

Tonight, at sundown, insert a queen excluder between the starter box and the bottom board of the droney hive - LEAVING NO ENTRY OR EXIT ROUTE. Any queen and all the drones will be trapped there.

In the morning or at your convenience, without opening the hive, set eveything from the QE, to the cover, intact, at the top of the other starter. The workers that gravitate to the functional colony below will be salvaged, and be of benefit to that unit.

Some time later, at a time when foragers are active, lift off the excluder with its contents and take it a few miles away and shake it out.

Walt
 

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A queen that is laying only drones was not mated properly (or has run out of semen). Drone eggs do not need semen, but worker eggs do need to be fertilized. A drone laying queen cannot be salvaged as she will not mate again after starting laying.

If there is no queen in the hive, then the drones are being laid by 'laying workers', as a last resort to pass on their genes.

Regardless of which of those two situations apply to your hive, you will find little agreement here as to the best course of action to get the hive back on track. I expect the range of solutions offered here will include the range of options you mentioned in your post. How much time and resources are you prepared to throw at the problem?

If you are concerned about a lack of nurse bees to tend to a newly introduced queen, you could add a frame of open brood with nurse bees from another hive along with a new queen (after removing the old queen).
If a Queen is poorly mated or has run out of semen would the workers not try to supercede her? Is the problem that there are no appropriate larvae to be used for a Queen?
 

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My drone layers never would try to supersede when I gave them eggs. I had to kill her first. Then they would build a queen.
 

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While its true I've never done this to sort out a drone layer. I have combined several hives without newspaper. As a mater of fact the only time I use newspaper is if the queen less hive is stronger than the queen rite hive.

Therefore there is no doubt in my mind the nurse and workers would be accepted. Now it's possible the drone layer might have the strongest QMP and the lower bees may gravitate to her. I suspect that is highly unlikely.
Hope this explains my thoughts.
Woody Roberts
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, I went into that hive yesterday evening and did a thorough search for the queen. No queen present, no sign of capped brood other than drone cells. So, I guess this package of bees was a bust since the supplier doesn't offer a guarantee. Lesson learned. I still have 8 hives, 5 of which are from swarms I caught and they are all doing fine. My problem now is learning how to manage them, what to look for, know when to add another super, etc. Like I said, I sure have learned a lot this year! Many thanks to all who have given advice. Maybe one day I'll know enough to help someone out if they have a question.
 

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So, I guess this package of bees was a bust since the supplier doesn't offer a guarantee. Lesson learned.

Sounds to me like the lesson learned is that you may need to find a new supplier. In fact, a post in the Consumer Report section might be in order. Have you called them to discuss this exact situation? That would have been my first step. Things happen, good suppliers will make it right.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks, I'll give them a call today. They're one of the biggest suppliers in NC so hopefully they'll want to maintain a good reputation.
 
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