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Discussion Starter #1
I caught a small swarm March 15th, so they have been in the hive about a month...they only cover about 3 frames, but they have been very active when temps warm up.... I looked in on them this last Saturday and they have comb and even put honey and pollen in it, but I see no brood or eggs anywhere....there is something that looks like a queen cell in the middle of a frame that has hatched already....but I didn't see a queen and I looked them over pretty good....what could be going on? there has to be a queen for them to be making comb and filling it with honey and pollen don't they? and why no brood or eggs after all this time? And how did they make a queen cell with no larva anywhere else, or could they have all hatched after something happened to the original queen, but there was an egg they made another queen from?
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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Is all the comb new and white? Or is there a brown patch in the middle of the comb from cocoons? My guess is they swarmed with the old queen, she laid a small patch of brood and they raised a supersedure cell from that patch of brood and replaced her with a virgin that isn't laying yet. So let's test that theory. If you caught them on March 15th and they quickly drew some comb (which swarms often do) and the queen started laying on the 16th (the next day), those workers would emerge by the 5th of April. If they immediately started a queen cell as well on the 16th, the queen would emerge 16 days later on the 1st of April. Then I would expect the queen to be laying two weeks after that which would be yesterday (the 14th) or at the latest three weeks later (the 21st) six days from now. All of that assumes they immediately started the queen cell, they could have waited a few days but since you have no brood now, the old queen must have stopped laying at least 21 days ago (Mar 25th), so the youngest the queen could be is that she emerged 16 days after Mar 25th (Apr 10th) which means the latest she would be laying would be May 1 with Apr 24 being more likely. So if you don't have a laying queen by May 1st there is none and I would start getting nervous by the 24th. A frame of eggs and brood from another hive is always good insurance without interfering with what is happening.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes, all the comb is new and white...I am leaning toward thinking this was from a LARGE hive, there was a large swarm on a low hanging pine limb, March 1st, the next Saturday there was a smaller but decent size swarm on a limb next to where the first swarm was. I called two guys from my bee club to get those 2 swarms, I wasn't planning on having any more hives than my 3. The next weekend, March 14th there was this smaller swarm on the same branch as the one the week before.... I couldn't stand it any longer, I got 2 supers and put them in until I could get another deep, and I moved them into it the next weekend. Then we had 3 days of rain and cold as soon as I hived them, so they couldn't get out or eat, I think some of them died from what I could see on the front porch and around the feeder I had sitting a few feet in front of the hive...the peanut looking cocoon is dead center in the middle of a frame...I looked closely at it and saw it was opened already, so I searched the frames but couldn't find a queen, this last Saturday.
 

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All nice white comb, no eggs or larvae and a queen cell would make me nervous. That could be a drone egg in the queen cell. Certainly if you have another hive a frame of eggs and adhering bees might give them a chance.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
You said, "a frame of eggs and adhering bees".... you mean I could put a frame with grown bees in this hive with no problem? Update: Just found a small swarm in my pear tree... could I put the two together and have a nice bigger hive?
 

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>You said, "a frame of eggs and adhering bees".... you mean I could put a frame with grown bees in this hive with no problem?

Yes.

> Update: Just found a small swarm in my pear tree... could I put the two together and have a nice bigger hive?

Yes. I'd smoke them good to cause confusion so they don't fight.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Well, that idea didn't work....had a hard time reaching the swarm, tried shaking them into a box, most missed the box, I was covered in bees, and the next day they were back on the limb in the pouring rain and stayed there until today.... After 3 days of rain, I did manage to look in on this small hive today and it was warm so they were double deep on the one frame...wasn't good news....only brood I saw were drones...saw uncapped brood, probably drones too...Could I buy a queen and put in this one, or would there be problems, as I guess this means there is a laying worker in this hive?
 

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>I guess this means there is a laying worker in this hive?

In a successful queen right strong colony there are probably 60 laying workers. Of course you have a laying worker, the question is do you have thousands? If it's queenless, you probably have a laying worker problem. If you're not see multiple eggs yet, you might get them to start a queen with a frame of eggs. If not, in a week repeat giving them some open brood. At worst you have to do this three times.

If it's not queenless, then you probably have a drone laying queen.

http://bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
 
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