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I'm a new beek and have two strong hives started with nucs in May. The third hive was a working colony (one 10 frame deep) or it was supposed to be. That third hive is struggling compared to the other two hives.

I added a second deep box to all three hives in early June. The two strong hives are drawing comb in the second deeps, but that third hive had done nothing in the second deep two weeks ago when I looked. So I pulled three frames of spotty brood and moved them up to the top deep and replaced those frames with new foundation in the bottom deep. Checked again today and still nothing happening up top and nothing going on the new foundation in the bottom. Lots of bees in the hive yet but only seeing a few uncapped brood mixed in with what looks like honey & pollen being back filled in.

We looked hard for a queen today, but saw nothing. Being a new beek, I don't have the skill to spot a queen unless somebody points it out to me. I don't see any pattern of brood like the other hives...it looks like just a mish-mash of pollen, honey, scattered capped & uncapped brood. The hive looks disorganized and a real mess to me. Any suggestions or comments? How long does it take to be able to recognize a queen easily? Getting frustrated with #3 hive.
 

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You can pull the box off and wait or you can dump the hive. Two out of three ain't bad.
 

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Since you are a new beekeeper, can you tell the difference between drone brood and worker brood?


Photo linked from: http://vtrusticmoose.com/wp/?page_id=104
The domed caps toward the center are drones, the flat caps are worker caps. Does your weak hive have worker brood?

One thing you could try is to move a frame with eggs/young larva over from one of your other hives, and see what they do with it. If they start queen cells, likely there is a queen problem.
 

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raider you always come back with this and always after I post. Why don't you post it first? Do you have any idea what his hive consist of? I don't.
 

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That is why I asked questions in my post Ace. If you don't know what the conditions are how are you in a position to give advice? :s
 

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Nice pic of brood raider. Would you mind if I copied it to show my students the different appearance of drone & worker brood?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I do know what drone brood looks like (domed light colored caps) and worker brood (flat brown caps). We did see a couple of drones in the hive today, but not many. My eyesight isn't the best, so I saw no eggs....only a few uncapped brood that looked pretty large and probably ready to be capped.

Next trip to the hive I'll take along a helper to try to take some photos and perhaps a magnifying glass to see what's in the bottom of those cells.

It's been off & on rainy here for about 7-8 days and the bees haven't had much foraging time lately, but compared to the other two hives, they are slackers.

I did notice what appeared to be a start of possible queen cups on the center of a couple of frames of comb. It looked brownish like old wax and stuck out from the side of the comb with the opening pointed down.....I couldn't see if there was anything inside of them or not.
 

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Tim, I wonder if that uncapped brood you saw was in worker comb or drone comb?
If you didn't notice no big deal.
I'm thinking out loud here and pretty tired from a long day so if I don't make any sense correct me or maybe someone else will.

It sounds like you didn't see any small uncapped brood though. In a strong hive, lots of brood capped, I would think they were
in swarm mode because the queen quits laying before heading for the trees but this has been weak from the get go
so probably not a pre swarm or post swarm condition.
Two things I would look into further is if there are lots of mites in that hive weakening it
and the other thing is a queen that is failing.
Rader's idea of putting in a frame of young larvae/eggs from one of the boomer hives after checking for mites is a good one.
If that queen is failing they will start to make a queen with that new frame of young larvae in a few days.
 

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Any suggestions or comments?
I would do what Rader suggested. (Put a frame with eggs and just hatched larvae from one of the strong hives into the weak hive.) Some folks would pour the bees through a queen excluder to find the queen, if she's still there, and immediately requeen the hive. There's something to be said for knowledge gained through patience and observation, and something to be said for more honey sooner. Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out.
How long does it take to be able to recognize a queen easily?
Six months or so depending on the individual and how often you are in the hives and seeing queens. Others will disagree. Enjoy the hive.
 

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Brian, You take the box of bees and brood that you think the queen is in off of the hive or hive stand and place a excluder on the box still in place. Set an empty box on the excluder. Take each frame from the box of bees and brood and one at a time shake bees into the box and onto the excluder. The worker bees will go down through the excluder and the queen won't.
 

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Can you tell if brood will be worker or drone before it is capped?
 

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>That third hive is struggling compared to the other two hives.
>So I pulled three frames of spotty brood
>Lots of bees in the hive yet but only seeing a few uncapped brood mixed in with what looks like honey & pollen being back filled in.
> don't see any pattern of brood like the other hives...it looks like just a mish-mash of pollen, honey, scattered capped & uncapped brood.

Everything you've said sounds like EFB
Post pictures of your brood
 

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Set an empty box on the excluder. Take each frame from the box of bees and brood and one at a time shake bees into the box and onto the excluder.
I had a feeling this is what he meant by pouring but not actually pouring.
 

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sure, can't you? By the size of the cell.
If the cells are obviously large I expect drone but when I see a full frame of larvae I still have trouble deciding if all,or any,cells are significantly larger than others:(
I still have to wait a week and see.
 
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