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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have searched the archives for answers, found many, and myself posted almost this same question last year, yet still am confused. :scratch:

Last year this same colony of mine came out of winter queenless and I requeened by adding a frame of brood weekly. Worked dandy. However, this year all the beeks I know have had big losses and are strained for resources -- and our season is off to a late start.

And I lost my other colony in February, so I have no resources of my own.

I think this colony may again be queenless. It has about 8 frames of bees but no signs of brood and almost ZERO pollen. Bu it's been so cold or windy (or the bees are so old?), they have hardly been flying. They have loads of honey and are bringing in some nectar. They are very docile.

If the colony has a queen, I could have missed her, or she is super shy and waiting for spring to arrive. Our spring is several weeks late. It was about 30 degrees and a little snowy this morning, for example.

So, what to do?

1) Wait for spring to get here and see if I have a queen.

2) Do more methodical queen hunting / get experienced eyes to assist to ascertain queen status.

3) Try adding a queen - I have a neighbor who is picking up package bees tomorrow. He can bring me a queen and/or a 2# package. I know it's usually unsuccessful to introduce a queen if a colony has been queenless a long time, but if I got a queen, could I could try a push-in cage and see if she will start laying a bit, then maybe they would accept her?

4) Combine with the package.

5) Is this crazy? Let package get going in a separate box and if all goes to perfection, in a couple of weeks steal a tiny amount of brood from them to give to the other hive? I can install the package on built comb and give them stores. So that may help them get a head start, which I would admittedly then thwart.

6) Other?

I hate to let my still somewhat populous box of bees die, especially since they survived the winter.

Thanks in advance for any help. This forum is a wonderful resource, and I greatly appreciate the time and effort of posters.
 

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I would get the two pound package with queen and do a newspaper combine with the hive that you have. If spring ever gets there they will build up pretty good and you can get a queen and split if you want. But thats just me. That of course depends on that you don't have a queen in there. I had a couple hives that lost queens also and I combined with small queenright hives.
 

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I would get the package and install it in the dead hive.

If it turns out that you do need some eggs for the current hive, it won't be long before you can take some from the package bees - you already have comb to install them on, so that queen should be able to lay quickly. Make sure they have plenty of feed/nectar available.
 

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Is it difficult to install a Queen into aQueenless hive? I had thought they would be excited to get a Queen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Is it difficult to install a Queen into aQueenless hive? I had thought they would be excited to get a Queen.
It is not difficult to install them but difficult to keep them alive. I understand from other beekeepers and reading that introducing a queen to a hive that has been queenless for more than a couple of weeks almost always fails and she is killed. The biology / psychology (?) of the hive changes to create laying workers, who lay unfertilized eggs that produce only drones. My guess, in the absence of finding research, is that the hive "knows" it is dying and shifts into gear to pass along its genetic material the only way it can… via drones… so at that point the colony resists changing their mission. They think they have a queen (a laying queen or one in the making). My hive shows no signs of laying workers (or laying anybody) yet.

Thanks for the responses. Sounds like doing something with a package may be my best chance. I am also lined up to get a nuc later in May but was thinking that may be too late, but the nuc may be ahead of the package.
 
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