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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello-

Our hive isn't doing so well this year. We're located in Montana. We lost our queen and last saw eggs June 5. They made lots of queen cups and we thought they were getting ready to swarm because the hive was actually really bursting at the seams and doing great but when we no longer saw any eggs we feared the worst. On June 22 we saw the first hatched queen cell. We then spotted the virgin queen twice in the ten days after that but the weather has been awful with lots of windy afternoons and thunderstorms. By July 8 all the remaining brood had hatched and the bees had made room for a brood nest in the middle of the box by moving out nectar but it's now been five more days (July 13) and there are still merely empty cells and no sign of any eggs. We are fearing the absolute worst now which is that our virgin queen also passed during her mating flights.

We are planning to purchase a queen from our local bee company but they have been out of stock this entire month and won't have another queen come in until July 20. I grab a bar of eggs and young brood from a friend but I am worried that'll decrease the chances the hive will accept the new queen we plan on introducing next week. On the other hand, waiting a week doing nothing feels like the wrong thing to do as well. The bees are definitely acting pretty frantic and I feel awful for them. Even though their numbers are still incredibly high they clearly know they are in a pickle.

Thanks for everybody's input!
Chris
 

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It is great you know the dates that is very helpful to make a diagnosis. If the first queen cell hatched on June 22, she should have been laying eggs by now, but sometimes these things can take a bit longer, do not entirely give up on her until the 20th.

When new queens are available to you on the 20th she should definately be laying by then, if not, go ahead and requeen.

However, the bees being broodless that long could have caused laying workers by then and interfere with successful introduction of the new queen, so it would actually be helpful at this time to get a comb of young brood into the hive to keep things normal. Just be sure to kill any queen cells they may build on it so there is not a virgin that will kill the queen you introduce.
 

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bees had made room for a brood nest in the middle of the box by moving out nectar
One addition I might make to Oldtimer’s answer is that when they ‘reserve’ a ring of empty cells in the brood nest, this is a pretty good sign that they are queenright. It isn’t a slam dunk but….i’d be willing to bet on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
when they ‘reserve’ a ring of empty cells in the brood nest, this is a pretty good sign that they are queenright. It isn’t a slam dunk but….i’d be willing to bet on it.
That's what we thought too but it's been several days and we still didn't see any eggs. That's why our best guess was that the virgin queen had been doing good and then died in a mating flight. But I am more than happy to hold on to hope. Thanks for the replies guys! I'll probably grab that bar of brood tomorrow and we'll know if they're queenless if they start making more queen cups immediately. We'll take those off the day our bee company has queens back in stock.
 

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Sounds like a plan, just be aware bees can turn a larva into a hatched virgin in as little as 10 days, so be sure to eliminate any cells quickly enough.

Let's know how this goes. :)
 

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I grafted my last batch for the season on the 6th of june and those all hatched on the 22nd and 23rd of june, and they all have larvae as of today, were on the same schedule. If your queen hatched the 22nd of june she definitely should be laying now, you actually should be seeing larvae at this time, but if the weather was as bad as you say it was, you should wait another week like oldtimer mentioned.
if you have the resources you should add a frame of capped brood only, with no eggs, and then if you don't find eggs by the 20th get the new queen and put her in the hive, and leave the frame of brood to hatch out so the new queen will have some nurse bees for the eggs she will be laying. hope all works out for you.
 

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I'm with oldtimer - I'd add the frame of brood but I'd make sure it had eggs and young larvae on it. If they build a queen cell on that frame then you know for sure they are queenless. If they don't build a queen cell on that frame then don't be in too big of a hurry to stick a queen in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The transplant of the frame went smoothly. there was plenty of young larva and eggs on the bar. Now I'll leave them along until the 20th and will check if they are building new queen cups prior to purchasing the mated queen. Who knows, maybe the former virgin queen is still alive and will have started laying by next week. Thanks again for your guys' support
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
an important update to the story:

The local bee company called today saying their mated queens came in. Thus, I went and checked on the colony. The first thing I checked was the transplanted bar from my friend's hive. The brood had progressed nicely (lots of uncapped very young larva and some bigger larva) but, most importantly, NO queen cups. That got my heart racing! I checked a few bars over and, sure enough, I spotted several eggs! I proceeded to go through both brood boxes and spotted TONS of eggs. Man, I am one happy bee keeper today :)) Clearly the virgin queen did survive and just needed longer than expected to get into her groove, likely due to the severe stormy afternoons we've been having.

I'd like to thank everyone again in this thread for the support. Having the extra confirmation definitely gave me the extra confidence I needed to pull this through
 

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Excellent!! Always like those good outcomes. :)

And as a useful experience, would pay to diary those dates and how long it all took, for future reference. Even for advising others you see on Beesource, so many people get worried and want to jump the gun and put a new queen in too soon, it is a fairly common theme on Beesource.
 
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