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I am trying to help a local beginning beekeeper with a problem related to a queenless hive caused by a swarm and could use some advice. Here is the situation:

16 days ago her 1-deep+1medium super hive swarmed (she could not recover the swarm)

She immediately checked the hive and idscovered the following:
- deep hive body had no brood and broodnest was back-filled with nectar
- medium super was mainly capped honey, but there was a small amount of brood within some of the frames in the medium super
- a single queen cell on a foundationless frame in the deep hive body

In examining the queen cell, she tilted the foundationless frame and in the heat of the afternoon, the comb fell out and the queen cell was destroyed.

Two days later she noticed that there was a loud buzzing noise coming from the hive and that the bees had become very aggressive (so pretty clearly they are queenless).

The hive was probably made queenless 16 days ago - how long does she have to get a queen introduced befor the emergence of laying workers becomes a real possibility? Is it already too late? Does she have another few days to get a queen introduced?

I have some virgin queens that emerged a week ago and hopefully have just mated in the beautiful weather we have been having recently. Should I wait a few days to see signs that the new queens are laying before introducing one of them or introduce one of my new queens as soon as possible even if I am not sure they she has successfully mated yet?

I think I read somewhere that it is 4 weeks without a queen before laying workers become a possibility - is that correct? But I am concerned that that may have been in a split / emergency queen situation where there was brood present for several of those weeks - how long with no brood present, as in this case?

Since it has only been 16 days, if 4 weeks is correct, I can probably safely wait until this weekend to introduce a proven queen without taking much risk of laying workers materializing in the meantime, but I am unsure and would appreciate any advice from all of the experienced beeks on this board.

-fafrd
 

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4 weeks is an AVERAGE. that said, its pretty close. id introduce the virgin now, in a cage or queen clip. watch and see if they immediately reject her, if not most likely you will succeed. good luck,mike
 

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id introduce the virgin now, in a cage or queen clip. watch and see if they immediately reject her, if not most likely you will succeed.
Thanks for the response Mike.

I had thought about that - introducing in a cage and monitoring for a few days to determine if they seem to be accepting her or not. Question is, I am literally right at the end of the 'hardening' period and the queens have probably already gone on their orientation flights. So am I better off to hold off another few days in the hopes that mating was successfully achieved before introducing in this way, or risk screwing up the mating process by caging and moving the virgins right when they were beginning the mating process?

id introduce the virgin now, in a cage or queen clip. watch and see if they immediately reject her, if not most likely you will succeed.
4 weeks is an AVERAGE. that said, its pretty close.[/QUOTE]

It's now been 16 days from when the old queen swarmed and the hive lost their last queencell, so if 4 weeks is average for laying workers to develope, maybe I have a few more days (to 21 days for example) to make sure I have a mated queen before introduction.

Another idea that I had is that I could also perhaps introduce the new queen with a frame of eggs she has started if that is a good idea. I have a wirecloth cage and could assure that at least within that region, some brood develops while the queen is in the process of being accepted.

Any further thoughts or advice appreciated...

-fafrd
 

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"...Another idea that I had is that I could also perhaps introduce the new queen with a frame of eggs she has started if that is a good idea. I have a wirecloth cage and could assure that at least within that region, some brood develops while the queen is in the process of being accepted..."
id say that will almost certainly work. good luck,mike
 

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Thanks Mike. Unless someone comes up with an even better idea, that will be my plan:

1/ check on my virgins as quickly and frequently as possible until I see that I have a laying queen.

2/ Mark her and cage her on the frame on which she has been laying

3/ Introduce her into the queenless hive on this frame and in this cage

4/ check in 3 days to assure that she has been accepted and then release her from the cage

Wish me luck and I will let you know how it goes...

-fafrd
 

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if it dosent work, its bad luck. if you succeed its your superior skill :)
 

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fafrd.
If you can spare a frame with eggs and uncapped brood, could you not put them in the hive, that should prevent any laying workers and give you almost a week to wait on your queens.
 

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fafrd.
If you can spare a frame with eggs and uncapped brood, could you not put them in the hive, that should prevent any laying workers and give you almost a week to wait on your queens.
Basser,

this is a good idea and what I would do if I was facing this problem in my own apiary. I am trying to help another beekeeper who is having this problem and she des not have any other queen-right hives in her apiary. If I was willing to make multiple trips to help her out, this would be a good way to buy time but her apiary is far enough away from my own that I want to find a way to help her that involves only one trip if possible.

This Saturday it will be Day 21 since her hive lost their queen and their only queen cell, and by then I should see that my new queens are laying. Introducing on of my new queens on one of the frames of new brood she has been laying on will hopefully be the easiest way to accomplish this with a high liklihood of success...

-fafrd
 
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