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I am in Cincinnati, OH. I just checked two of my top bar hives. The population is fine and there is plenty of stored honey, but just a little capped brood. I did not see any larvae. In the past when I had Langs, I saw much more brood this time of year. Should the queens have stopped laying this early in the Cincinnati climate?
 

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I have 12 topbar colonies with different types of queens. Some are still laying a bunch of brood and other have cut back to very little. In one of them with very little brood, I did add an internal feeder for a week and she picked things back up to boost their small population.
Mine are Russians - two are splits from the first pure Russian. I know they overwinter with a small colony than Italians. The populations are very good and they have been storing a lot of syrup from my feeders in the hive. I have them all insulated, treated with oxalic acid vapor and ready for winter.
 

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I am in Cincinnati, OH. I just checked two of my top bar hives. The population is fine and there is plenty of stored honey, but just a little capped brood. I did not see any larvae. In the past when I had Langs, I saw much more brood this time of year. Should the queens have stopped laying this early in the Cincinnati climate?
Different varieties of western honey bees (Apis mellifera) winter with different amounts of brood. In these top bar hives you likely have a frugal variety that winters with a relatively small cluster in order to preserve winter stores. The colonies you previously kept in Langstroth hives were likely a less frugal variety that tended to contract less in early winter or late fall. Other factors being equal, I would not expect a significant difference in the fall contraction of brood between bees kept in a Langstroth hive and those kept in a typical top bar hive. I doubt that both queens died about the same time and you did not see emergency queen cells in either hive.
 

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I did not really look carefully for brood so I found only capped brood, not eggs. There may have been some eggs. I was just doing a check of the honey stores. You very seldom harm a queen with a top bar hive. I just spread two frames apart and pull out one frame at a time for inspection. I never need smoke because the bees don't get alarmed at all compared to prying boxes apart on Langs. Sometimes I can carefully inspect every frame and close the hive again without harming a single bee. It is great!
 
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