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Discussion Starter #1
I know that the timeline and bee math typically says that 24 days after a split, a queen can be expected to have started laying, at least according to Michael Bush.

I split my hive on June 29, and I had marked out on my calendar that August 10 would be when I could expect her to be laying. That is a 6 week time period.

I cannot find where I heard 6 weeks, but does that sound like the right kind of timeline to y’all?
 

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Six weeks ? Yes - that's a reasonable upper figure - about 4 weeks after emergence.

Michael Bush is also right - his date is around 1 week after emergence. Both are 'correct', as there can be considerable mating flight delays to take into account, as well as some natural variation in when the virgin queen is herself 'ready' to fly, and then afterwards some variation in her ability to start laying - which can be down to the individual colony, availability of space etc.

So yes - 24 days to 6 weeks (42 days) - that's a fair range. After 6 weeks I'd start to get a bit concerned she may be a dud.

So - is she laying ?
LJ
 

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I usually just call it a month from split until eggs.

Like LJ said, more than 5 or 6 weeks without a queen and I’d be concerned. May risk a laying worker starting up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don’t know if she is laying yet. My mentor advised me to wait til next weekend to check, but part of me wants to get out there tomorrow and look (tomorrow is 6 weeks since the split)
 

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Went into the colony today and this is what I saw. No eggs. A frame of eggs that I dropped in last week have been capped over, but no new eggs laid. What’s the deal with these emergency cells?
 

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Well firstly, well done for going in to check. Also - well done for posting some good photos.

The bad news is that you've got a problem. You have a queen which is both a drone-layer and is failing anyway: that is, she is laying unfertilised eggs into worker cells, and the bees are attempting to turn some of these into queens - hence you have what 'appear' to be queen-cells but actually aren't, Those are (what I call) 'LadyBoy' cells - i.e. they look like female, but are actually male.

Your colony is trying it's very best to rectify the situation with what they have available - but what they currently have isn't adequate. Sorry to say, but that particular colony is destined for failure without some serious intervention. So - get in touch with your mentor and advise him/her of the situation.

The bees have already decided that the queen is failing, so you might just be able to get away with a frame of eggs/larvae for them to create proper emergency cells with. But, if it were me, then I'd look for that queen anyway to cull her, and remove as many of those LadyBoy cells as I could, as they're only confusing the issue. It might also be a good idea to 'spike' the mini-drone cells as well (or pop that frame in the freezer for 24hrs), but that isn't absolutely essential.

So - contact your mentor asap, as you really do need to get a queen up and running and functioning soon, as winter is only just around the corner.
'best
LJ
 

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As soon as I saw the pictures, it was, "uh oh". LJ is giving you very sound advice. Drones from a new queen are common, but that the bees are trying to make queen cells indicates that they know something is wrong. You still have time to install a mated queen, but it is pretty late to try to raise your own.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My mentor is in agreement that there is a problem, and she has promised me a mated queen when she returns from vacation later this week.

In the mean time, should I get into the colony and remove the ladyboys, and try to pinch my drone layer?
 

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I’ll also add that I have a resource nuc, so I might also try and pull another frame of eggs to drop in.
For me personally, if I had a resource nuc and a failing colony this late in the year, I'd seriously consider combining them. I don't like to take nucs into winter anyway, so it'd be a way to get the nuc into a full-size hive and get a good queen into your drone-layer.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My goal was to over winter a nuc, and the nuc was created by splitting off the original queen from the now failing colony into a nuc. If possible, I would like to keep the nuc, but I may end up having to combine
 

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Sure - if you can find her, then she may as well be culled as she's no use to man nor beast right now.

From your photographs there does appear to be a few normal capped worker cells, but they are very few and far between. Personally, I'd be inclined to shake the bees off, cut the 'LadyBoy' cells out, and pop those brood combs into a freezer for 24 hrs to kill ALL the remaining brood, of whatever type. That way, if you should then decide to try a frame of eggs/larvae the next day - or wait until a mated queen arrives - either way, you'll be starting-off with 'a clean sheet', and will avoid any temptation for the bees to try and rescue what they were already working with.
As I see it, the only value left in those particular combs lies with the stores and pollen - they represent a fair amount of flight-miles and are worth saving.

I just want to end this post by saying - of all the possible queenless scenarios, the one you currently have is the best. Laying Workers fool the colony into thinking it's queen-right, and so no remedial action is ever taken. With an otherwise healthy drone-laying queen, again the colony is fooled into thinking that there's no problem, and so the number of workers dwindle until the colony can no longer sustain itself.

That your bees are trying everything they can to rectify the situation is good news, and if they can be given appropriate material to work with, then they'll survive. Personally, I think that's a colony well worth saving.

LJ

PS. Combination is, of course, another option to consider.

PPS. If you have a fair number of bees in that colony, then a mated queen with what, 2 more brood cycles (?) - it could develop into a viable size before winter.
 

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Went into the colony today and this is what I saw. No eggs. A frame of eggs that I dropped in last week have been capped over, but no new eggs laid. What’s the deal with these emergency cells?
I highly doubt those are drones in false queen cells as little john posted.
You said that you put a frame of eggs in the hive just a week ago.
The bees know there is either a non laying queen or there is no queen present, and they started the emergency/supersedure cells to replace her, using the frame of eggs, plus the timing is correct for capped queen cells.
At this time of the year, you could requeen which is what I would do, perfect timing for that, you could combine the hive with another hive or let them hatch a new queen and go through the process of requeening naturally, but you won't have a laying queen till around Sept 15th, then the hive wouldn't be strong enough to last the winter.
 

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I highly doubt those are drones in false queen cells as little john posted.
What ? Your 'doubt' is based on what exactly - some vague calculation or other ?

You only need to look at them - their external appearance tells you exactly what they are. Classic appearance - there's no need for any guesswork.
LJ
 

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Ok - seeing as this is the 101 Forum - here's some basic info about queen cells.

Normal, regular queen-cells have a highly 'sculptured' appearance, with their indentations often deep, but always irregular.

LadyBoy cells (drone-based pseudo queen-cells) are much longer, often tubular with blunt ends - but their big 'give-away' is that they have very shallow indentations which often give the impression of forming a pattern - something rather like striped wallpaper.

This is a very good example:



Note the highly regular 'striped' appearance of the cell at Top Left. The two partially drawn cells at the bottom are almost devoid of any indentations at all ! Note also how 'tubular' and blunt they are. None of these are 'sculpted' like regular q/cells.

In addition, when you take into account the amount of raised worker cell caps - indicating a drone-laying queen - it's almost inconceivable that any pukka queen cells could have been started under such conditions.

LJ
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If I were interested in ordering a mated queen online, do you have any recommendations for places that you know produce good queens?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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We have a Beesource member advertising Italian and Carniolan queens for sale in our For Sale forum. You may want to give him a try. There are a lot of queen breeders within a 500 mile radius of you (one day shipping). I raise my own so I do not have a true recommendation for you.
 

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Sorry TG, but the egg to emergence timeline on a queen is 16 days, not 21 like a worker bee. Still puts the earliest laying date at split + about 24 days. I like to wait around 32 days before really expecting to see eggs and now larvae. Pools of royal jelly surrounding new larvae are much easier to see than eggs.
 
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