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It looks as though my colony has been queenless at least 3 weeks. Not a single sign of any brood. There's no laying workers, at least now. They are backfilling the brood chamber with honey and pollen.

The local apiarist will sell me a queen in the morning (after chastising me), but he believes there is little chance they'll accept her. What do you all recommend?

Thanks in advance.

Bruce
 

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You may want to see if you can get a queen cell or a virgin queen from him. The acceptance rate is highest with queen cells, and a little better with a virgin. But I would think they would accept her if they are queenless. You could use a push in cage to get her laying and they will almost certainly accept her.
 

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I bought a queen just the other week for my long time queenless hive. Was also told they wouldn't accept her, so I pulled 2 bars of bees and put them in my display hive with her (in a jam jar with screen). Let her out after 1 day and they seemed to accept her just fine. Went to put her in the big hive, and found 6 new eggs, so they obviously managed to hatch their own queen.

So you should definitely introduce her to a small population of the hive first and get her laying eggs, and then put them back in the big hive. You may even need to use a push in cage for a couple of days, but I still think she needs to be put in with some of her own babies.
 

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I'm interested in that as well. Just recently I was reading a post that said that in most big hives you will have a laying working but the other workers remove the eggs.
 

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Well when I checked my "potentially" queenless hive at the weekend there was a eerie single tone buzz coming from the hive. I don't know if this is the queenless hive noise experienced beekeepers talk about but do know I didn't find capped brood, uncapped brood, eggs or a queen. There were a few drone capped cells spotted about but I don't know if this is drone left from the failed queen or as a result of a laying worker. Luckily I have a TBH that is 16 brood bars at the moment and I found a full comb that was front and back filled with eggs. This comb has been donated to the queenless hive. I will check in a few days to see if they are making queen cells. I may have to put some capped/emerging brood in there too to improve numbers.
 

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>Just out of curiosity does anyone know how long a hive needs to be without queen (or brood) before you get laying workers?

It's not queenlessness that leads to laying workers, it's broodlessness.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm

See page 11 of Wisdom of the hive:
"the queen's pheromones are neither necessary nor sufficient for inhibiting worker's ovaries. Instead, they strongly inhibit the workers from rearing additional queens. It is now clear that the pheromones that provide the proximate stimulus for workers to refrain from laying eggs come mainly from the brood, not from the queen (reviewed in Seeling 1985; see also Willis, Winston, and Slessor 1990)."

They won't be broodless (no open brood) until 8 or 9 days after they lose the queen. By the time a new queen has been raised and is laying there is usually no brood whatsoever. Odds are they have a queen who isn't laying yet.

But you can put a frame of open brood and eggs in in three weeks if it makes you sleep better. I'd say it takes three to four weeks of broodlessness before you get significant numbers of laying workers. Add nine days to that for the time they had open brood, that gives you about four to five weeks before you have a problem. A frame of brood will reset the clock and give them resources to raise a queen if they need one.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beespanacea.htm
 

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I have a TBH that's been queenless since about the end of April. They've tried unsuccessfully to raise a new queen (I think it was too early here to get one mated anyway). Periodically I've added some eggs (and emerging brood for numbers) and they've tried raising queens, but still... no luck.

I introduced a mated queen to them. They paraded out onto the top bars to meet her, so I pinched any remnant of queen cells they had and propped the plastic cage she came in up against the wall of the hive. The following day they had eaten 1/2 of the candy out of the tube and I was leaving for several days so I popped the cage open and watched her walk out onto the hive floor. She paced all over the floor, the bees never balling her, just surrounding her in a circle staring at her seemingly in disbelief. She's got the three full bars they built awhile back all laid up and they've built an entire new comb which I'm guessing she's laid as well.
 

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Well either tonight or tomorrow night I am going to check on the comb of eggs I put in the queenless hive to see how they have got on with it.
I will limit the queen cell numbers this time. By wednesday night they will have had nearly 5 days to get some work done so all the eggs should be larvae and I should be able to find queen cells.
I thinking I should remove any that are capped and leave just two or three (if there are any) that i can see larvae in. Is this right?
 

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Well.. I checked them last night and the comb now contains some larvae and is predominantly capped brood. NO QUEEN CELLS... *sigh*. They're not going to make this easy for me are they :waiting:

I guess I will put another comb of eggs or young larvae in on saturday or sunday. At least this solves the problem of what to do with the neighboring colony that has 16 bars of brood.
 

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>Well.. I checked them last night and the comb now contains some larvae and is predominantly capped brood. NO QUEEN CELLS...

If you have a virgin queen they won't start cells. If you have laying workers it takes three weeks of exposure to open brood to get them set back where they will start queen cells...
 

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If you have a virgin queen they won't start cells. If you have laying workers it takes three weeks of exposure to open brood to get them set back where they will start queen cells...
Thanks Michael I had suspected as much. The mood in the hive was certainly better and all the bees were covering the brood and appeared more purposeful.
I am as certain as I can be about anything beekeeping related that there is no queen in there. When I check on saturday, just in case I did miss her, I will have a look at though the combs in case the brood addition has got the new queen laying. Otherwise I will give them another bar of brood, unless you think at this stage I might as well just recombine.
 
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