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Discussion Starter #1
Have lost sleep for two weeks on this and am really trying my hardest to do my best for these girls. One year old beekeeper, only have two hives. One was successfully over wintered from a May package 2013, one is a new April package. Both are now queen less with laying workers, assumed. I have two mated queens arriving tomorrow via post and am so worried to make a wrong move.

The over wintered hive: was going strong considering our horrid Midwest winter. I saw brood, eggs in April when I checked on the new package install. I am not good at spotting queens. So I wear a headlamp and make sure I can see eggs, larvae etc. I was not worried about this hive.

New package: installed April, queen released day two, never took off. Weak queen, or something happened to her. Tried to ride it out since I don't like to intervene, and am trying to learn to take a more natural approach, and let the bees do their work. In May: noticed spotty drone brood, but only single eggs laid in cells, and all centered and upright. It threw me off and made me doubt that it was laying workers since everything I read said LW lay multiples, willy nilly. Still, thought maybe my package queen was not successfully mated, and I would be patient. Checked in another week: same thing, only this time I did see 2-3 eggs in a very very few cells. Decided to do something this time, and so I looked through my over wintered hive for donor brood. To my surprise, this hive was in decline, with similar,ar drone brood patterns. Even so, I found two frames with open brood, eggs on it to give to the weak package hive. The only challenge was that the frames each also hadvthreecappedcqueen superceedure cells. I didn't feel I had another choice,
SO I gave a frame with three capped Q cells to weaker hive. I rained for four days afterwards. In the rain, I saw a dead queen on the doorstep of the new hive:( so I ordered queens that day, and they arrive tomorrow. I started reading all the methods, and sat home making double screens rafter than hanging on the beach with my kids for the first time this year. I put on a new box, with frames, then double screens, then the old brood boxes. This was today at3pm. Queens should come around 1pm tomorrow. Is that enough time to introduce them to the bottom boxes? What do I do with the old top boxes with laying workers? Thanks in advance for any help. I'd be heartbroken to lose both hives.
 

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'Sorry to hear of all your troubles. Some of my "best" plans have been waylaid by timing and weather.

If I understand correctly, your package likely befell a not uncommon problem - a failed supercedure in early development. The "replacement" queen didn't get mated and the hive has gone laying worker.

It also sounds as if you are also correct - the old hive is also attempting supercedure of a failing queen.

My suggestion would be to go back into your "good" hive and try and find some more "good brood", and divide it all equally among the two new queens. If there isn't enough (2-3 each, would be nice) remove those 2 good frames of brood from the package and give one to each new queen unit. Remove any and all queen cells from brood frames going into the queen units! Give both of them frames of honey and pollen from the old hive. Set one of these new queen units over a double screen, on top of each of your existing hives. Give them a small entrance.

The queen cells in those brood frames might serve a good purpose some other time, but right now it sounds as if they should be removed. It doesn't sound like you have the resources to risk trying to get one mated, especially in a laying worker colony. Remove the cells, and share the brood with your "best shot" - two nice new queens.

UNLESS you find several more frames of even brood in the old hive... that can wait.

-----------------------
You deserve to be a beekeeper. It will be nice when they stop making you worry so much.
Hang in there. Split what good brood you can muster between the two new queens, and head for the beach!
 

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Welcome Dunes,

I don't fully understand your situation, but I almost guarantee that you are over thinking it. If your hives have been queen less for more than 3-4 weeks, than laying worker is possible, but otherwise unlikely. If you are looking for the best way to introduce these queens, assuming you do have a laying worker, what I would do is make 2 small splits. Take 2 frames of brood and bees and place them in a box near by. Wait 12-24 hours and then install the queen cage. Small colonies will accept her better, and you reduce the chances that the laying worker is with the new queen. Once she gets laying (10 days), do a news paper combine with the original hive.

But, like I said originally, your likely overthinking it, and if you just install the queens they will likely be a success.

Good luck,
Luke
 

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In case you are now wondering, my double screen techniques are geared to the possibility of brood chilling cold from August -June in Colorado. I always use a parent colony to make up queen units (above).

That's the only substantial departure from Luke's suggestion. Wait 12-24 hrs - yes, smaller is better - yes, unite when the new queens are laying - yes, with a few other considerations that can wait... head for the beach!
 

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Laying workers are extremely hard to requeen. I have never done so successfully. There are times when multiple eggs per cell is a sign of a new queen figuring out laying. What you look for in those situations is where the eggs are located in the cells - center? things should work out ok. On the walls? I think the expression is the hive is essentially dead but doesn't know it yet. By all means experiment to find solutions, but be prepared for things not to work out as you hope.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks you for the great ideas and feedback. I will add some more info based on some of your questions and comments.

I have no more brood other than drone brood. The last frames of brood with fertilized eggs were found on May 11. At that time I gave one of them to the new hive which contained 3 capped queen cells ( which they either killed or she couldn't get out to mate, and then they killed her..since she was dead on the hive porch) The good capped workers did emerge however, as I can see it is a mixed hive now. I left another frame of fertilized brood with three more capped queen cells in the OW original hive. I have not seen ANY worker capped cells since in either hive, only spotty drone brood.

I finally had to assume laying workers, queen less in both and so I am trying the Michael Bush idea with new boxes on bottom, a double screen, and then turning the old brood box entrance around on top. The idea is explained that the field bees will leave, and return to the empty bottom box, leaving the laying workers in the top box. Then I am supposed to intro the queen to the bottom box. But I am uncertain of timing on this? It is suggested to wait 24 hours for the field bees to move. Would that be enough time to intro the queen then? And when I pull apart the hive to intro the queen, what do I do with the upper boxes containing the laying workers? He suggests shaking them out in front of other hives...but I only have the two...and since they've been laying for a few 4 weeks now, I would be afraid their instinct is so strong that they would kill the new queens if allowed back in? If I leave them on top of the new queen box, using the screen board for a few days, will that help anything--hoping the new queen starts laying and changes the chemistry of the hive enviro? Then do a newspaper combine, OR take leases chances with a shake out somewhere in the yard? Thank you again for your insight, I am really appreciative. I love honey, but it really is about the bees/pollination for me. My three boys are really enjoying this learning experience :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
A new queen will often times lay multiple eggs in a cell just a though
Ugh, yes, I read that...and that's part of the challenge. The only chance they would have had of a new queen would have been when I put the queen cells in on May 11. So it's possible, but wouldn't I see capped worker cells also? If she's laying multiples and the bees are cleaning them up, I'd see workers along with the drone brood? Thanks, it helps just to think of new angles...
 

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DunesGirl said:
I am not good at spotting queens.
you sure the queen wasn't on the frame of brood you originally donated?

DunesGirl said:
SO I gave a frame with three capped Q cells to weaker hive. I rained for four days afterwards. In the rain, I saw a dead queen on the doorstep of the new hive:( so I ordered queens that day, and they arrive tomorrow.
The dead queen on the front was the one who woke up late. It doesn't mean you don't have another queen in there hardening off, getting ready to have a mating flight (queen was likely hardening off those four rainy days, might flight there after).

The time to give up on a queen is 41 days after she was an egg. The day of the dead queen signified emerging queens (day 16). Earliest you would be checking for queen laying would be day 23, and she might not actually lay up until day 33.



I am not exactly sure what you did, because I can't get the hard dates for certain events. You may have caused your owned issues though. Your queen might have been coming intro her own, she may not have been a drone layer as you thought.

Good luck on the new queens.
 

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The only chance they would have had of a new queen would have been when I put the queen cells in on May 11. So it's possible, but wouldn't I see capped worker cells also? If she's laying multiples and the bees are cleaning them up, I'd see workers along with the drone brood? Thanks, it helps just to think of new angles...

if you put queens cells in on may 11 [assuming capped; Day 8], you queen could still be finishing up mating flights [~5/23+], then time to come back and start up laying (which could take 7 days or more. I wouldn't give up on her until ~ 6/12.

That queen might still be in the hive
 

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Discussion Starter #11
you sure the queen wasn't on the frame of brood you originally donated?
Always a chance, but I shook, and looked really well. With the few bees on the frame, I'm 98%sure I didn't lower the OW queen to her death


The dead queen on the front was the one who woke up late. It doesn't mean you don't have another queen in there hardening off, getting ready to have a mating flight (queen was likely hardening off those four rainy days, might flight there after).

The time to give up on a queen is 41 days after she was an egg. The day of the dead queen signified emerging queens (day 16). Earliest you would be checking for queen laying would be day 23, and she might not actually lay up until day 33.

Aye aye aye, yet another facet to consider. This would apply to both hives then..the math Soooo, perhaps now that there are less bees in the brood box, I should do one more thorough inspection for the queens. And maybe ask someone from my local club to come for a second set of eyes. ? It will still be good to have the arriving queens, and I can always donate t image.jpg them to the club if we find mine in hive. It would be a lot easier if they wore a crown ;) thank you

I sent a pic that is pretty much what it looks like
 

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I should do one more thorough inspection for the queens. And maybe ask someone from my local club to come for a second set of eyes. ? It would be a lot easier if they wore a crown ;)
I would definitely look for queens in the hives, or you might lose your bought queens. Let's say you have a drone layer and she kills your mated bought queen. Or hopefully you find a late bloomer queen who is starting to lay.

If you can enlist help even better. Marking queens is also very helpful (if you bought queens are not marked, mark them before introduction. If you find them, take a moment to mark you current queens if they begin laying,... though you will need to find them first :) A crown would be helpful

It looks to me like there really isn't laying going on in your pic (thought I can't see in the cells, just some random drones). However if your queen cells were capped and added on May 11, you can expect your queens have until June 13th to lay. Were the queen cells capped when added on May 11? Do you know the date you saw the queen on the landing board?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Beelosopher;Were the queen cells capped when added on May 11? Do you know the date you saw the queen on the landing board?[/QUOTE said:
Yes they were all capped. Yes, queen on landing board was a rain period immediately following, lasting four days. It was May 14 if I recall. She had her wings taken off, and in sad shape

The queens didn't arrive today in the post, so it bought me time. Now I'm worried because I have the empty box on bottom without food in it, where the field bees are supposedly gathering.

That picture is what it all looks like: spotty, only drone brood, no pattern. There are eggs and larvae, but they are only drones again and again (in new hive). My bee club said laying workers, but there was always only one egg, and it was perfectly on bottom center of cell. I even took pictures so I could magnify and double check. So that's when I assumed undated queen. But since then, there's been multiple eggs in cells, mostly along the bottom of frames.

As for the OW hive, I'm not sure what the heck happened. They survived the winter which was amazing to me, seemed alright early April and then no brood, and I've told the rest.

So, what would happen if: since my bottom boxes have been gathering only field bees since 2pm yesterday, and all the nurse bees/laying workers/and or queen is above the screen in both hives... Would it make sense to just intro the new, guaranteed mated queens to the bottom boxes tomorrow....and just shake out the old brood box with laying workers/old queens far from the hives? Then give the new small hives the pollen/ honey? Reasoning that at least I know for sure I have two queens and took care of any laying workers too?
 

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all the bee math may not matter too much since you have queens coming. But just so you are aware, that queen would most likely not have left within 4 days after her emergence (she would more than liekly be hardening off for that time period, then leaving for a mating flight. More than likely she was chilled, or in a the sensitive "don't move the queen" stage of her development.

Here is a queen calculator, of which there are many online. It will give you the general things to do/not to do when queen rearing. It is for grafting, but in your case we are basing your time frame off your capped queen cells so there are a few days of play in there:
http://www.thebeeyard.org/cgi-bin/queencalendar.pl?month=5&day=6&year=2014

If you were off a few days you may have moved those fraames with cells during the sensitive period, and thus causes the QC to fail.

I haven't had to deal with a drone laying colony with your limited resources. I just pulled frames of brood and eggs and added it to hives and things worked out.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks Beelosopher, it gave me something new to think about and learn. I am going to try to enlist the help of an experienced bee friend to make sure I'm queen less.

The experiment I am trying from Michael Bush's website, of putting the empty box on bottom and turning the brood entrance to the other side in order to drive the field bees to the bottom box has become comical...all I've done is confused my bees and made their lives harder, as they are now all using three entrances on various sides. :) I can hear them whispering now....

Thanks again all. I will update pass or fail.
 

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Ok, update: I did as thorough an inspection as possible with minimal equipment. When looking for the Q it's probably better to look one frame at a time and then place it in an empty box, right? Yea, I didn't think about this till after I was done...not that I had an empty box anyhow but I would have made something work... Since I didn't use an empty, it would have been pretty easy for a Q to just move to a different frame to hide.

So, the new package was the same as before..only spotty drone brood. The weird thing is that there still were not many cells with multiple eggs, most had just one and it was well placed on bottom? I was told only Qs could reach the bottom to lay, that's why laying workers lay on the sides? I still sent through frame to frame to document where the hive was so I could discern changes in future. They were gentle, I listened for the queen roar people talk about and didn't hear it. Michael Bush's suggestion to put an empty on bottom and top with brood chamber with backwards entry worked on this hive. Most field bees were in bottom, and nurse/laying workers in top after 40 hours. I made the decision to introduce a queen slowly. So I kept the screen between upper and lower and added new queen to lower with field bees, but this way the nurse/workers could smell what was going on below. Boy did they smell her right away! They were clustered to my hands in seconds. It felt gentle, like they were saying Hi to her, and almost relieved...ready to serve. I left the candy in so they could get used to her a whole and the top box could anticipate what was going on and know her smell. That was it. I closed up. The top box is ventilated but has no exits open. The bottom can come and go. Questions: how long usually to release a Q with candy ? I was planning to take the top box with laying workers about a mile away and shake out. Should I do it before or after the queen is released? Should I wait for the Q to start laying first?
Over wintered hive: the empty box/opposite entrance thing did not work with this hive :) smart girls just used the back door and reoriented! There were like 10 bees in the bottom empty box. But! Since this hive had good population I had two deeps on top of the empty deep. So I combed through frame by frame for the Q. This one was tough because again there was very little multiple eggs in cells. Most were regular, on bottom, good pattern, but drones! Ack! So I did the top box first, and it was more storage than brood so I put that one aside with a top and bottom. The lower hive had spotty drone brood which looked old, but well laid eggs around it? I swear I saw the Q mid hive, duck around the side of the frame. Then I lost her. I'm 90% sure. So... Since this deep had more brood than storage, and maybe a Q, I used this as the box on top to shake later. I took away the empty deep I had put there 2 days prior and installed my other new Q. This hive was different! They clustered all over my hands still, and the cage, but it felt different! It felt kinda like an attack, like they wanted to get close to her, but there was a nervous, frantic, excitement. It didn't feel as welcoming. think it's because they DID have a queen? I felt guilty leaving her in there. so, same thing...the other deep is separated by a double screen now. Waiting to haul and shake. Again...when should I do this?

Today: the package bees were out flying and busy. The over wintered hive was flying and active, but a lot of the bees were flying back to the top enterance trying to get back in. I wonder if it's because they want to be with their old queen? Do I need to go through this box again looking for her? That's it! Lay it on me...how many ways did I screw up?

My plan today is to check queens, and see how the bees are reacting. If still hostile I will put cork back over the candy to give me a few days to get bees used to new queens. How long can the bees in the upper box stay closed off with no exits? They have pollen, nectar and honey.
 

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Ok, update: The weird thing is that there still were not many cells with multiple eggs, most had just one and it was well placed on bottom?
sounds like they might have been queen right


boy did they smell her right away! They were clustered to my hands in seconds. It felt gentle, like they were saying Hi to her, and almost relieved...ready to serve. I left the candy in so they could get
are you sure they weren't trying to ball the queen to kill her?

This one was tough because again there was very little multiple eggs in cells. Most were regular, on bottom, good pattern, but drones! Ack!

They may have been queen right as well. Were they all drones in drone cell sizes? or were the bees extending worker brood sized cells to make it into drone?

it is hard to be certain, but it sounds to me like you may have had queens in each.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Beelosopher, this morning I took another look since I wasn't feeling good about the way the bees were reacting to the new queen in the over wintered hive. It just stuck with me and didn't feel right. They were still being hostile, biting the cage, very frantic and aggressive. (To answer your question above...no, the other hive reaction was not the same, much more mild. Still a lot of fidgety energy, but not biting or arched backs etc) back to the OW hive: I decided to do frame by frame again since I had an empty deep now..just to make sure. What you said about the emerging queens on May 11 was playing on my mind. Went through all frames slowly, no queen. Notice a lot of commotion under the screened bottom board. Flip it over to find a cluster of bees, start breaking it apart and guess who's there? I couldn't believe it. No idea how she got there. I picked her up and put her back in the brood box where the workers accepted her right away. Then I took that poor new, caged bee out. And removed the double screen. I won't open it for 3-4 weeks.

The new hive: the one that had the queen dead on the doorstep, had no worker brood, and evidence of multiple laying... The new queen was still being surrounded by the workers, but even more mellow this time. I decided to put the cork back over the candy just to give it another day. My gut is that they are desperate for a queen. I plan to check back tomorrow to see the reaction again and hopefully pull the cork, and shake the nurse bees out somewhere.

To answer your question about the drone brood, it was all uneven. I am a novice remember..so I am not sure I could differentiate by looking at empty cells, but they all were different heights, like they were built out to accommodate. Some of the drones were emerging malformed, like they were packed in too tight a space...so yes, maybe in worker cells ? What does that mean?

Thanks for all the info on bee math, it really opened my eyes to other possibilities. Thank you. image.jpg
 

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The good thing about this is the learning experience. When everything goes right what do you learn. I've learned far more from hives I've lost than from hives that lived.

There are a couple things here you need to be able to recognize.

If your seeing eggs in worker sized cells and a week later you don't see worker capped brood then your queen is a drone layer. My bees won't supersede a drone layer even when givin a frame of viable eggs. I've always had to kill her first.

The reason you don't see full frames of drone brood is because the bees know there not right and they drag them out.
 

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Honestly, too many manipulations going on with screening boxes etc... Beekeeping is more straightforward than most people make it. If you found a queen in your OW hive, but only drones, should've pinched her and used the bought queen to requeen it. Just pull the cork and let them release her, they'll wisen up really quick as to their queen situation. The best thing to do is get educated really quick on 'Bee math', it'll help with decisions. It's not always absolute, but it gives you a reference so other people can help you better. It's hard to give advice without knowing some of the exact details. Also, you will notice people create rigid ideas about certain situations with bees but you must keep an open mind. Such as laying workers can't lay in the bottom of cells..... that is not true, I've had laying workers.... and they always laid right smack dab in the bottom of the cell. Best way is to form your plan and take action, don't be wishy washy and worry about every little decision. For the failed package, pull the cork already and position the cage so they can release her, why leave the cork in at this point, only delaying that hive getting a laying queen going and it's only going down hill in the mean time. Pop into chat sometime in the evening, lots of peeps there to help you out as well.
 
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