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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I'm beekeeping for the first time in northern Maine. I started with two hives on May 15th.

My conundrum:
I cannot find the queen in one of my hives, but the contents and behavior mimic the hive with a queen. Both hives seem a little empty in the bottom deep. (Each hive has two deeps and one super.) I looked for a queen with my daughter (college age) on August 19th, and we both could not find the queen. I checked again on August 29th with my husband, and we both couldn't find her. The hive is thriving despite no queen. I see larvae, drone cells, capped cells. The bees are active and coming to the hive with pollen on their hind legs. I'm still feeding both hives a 1:1 syrup mix because the supers of both hives are empty. Bees are crawling on the frames, but for six weeks, so comb has been built.

Today, August 31, I noticed a massive swarm of bees 30-35' up in a pine tree. It looks like a beard of bees (also kind of hard to see being so high up.) Could this swarm be wild and robbing from both hives? It would help explain the bottom deep of both hives.

Also, I'm not sure if my hive replaced and made a new queen. I just don't see a large bee with a queen silhouette. Could the former queen be in this swarm? Do I try to combine? (Would the newspaper method work with a swarm? Also I don’t have an extra deep but I have several empty supers?) Do I look for a queen in the swarm and assume my hive has made a new queen based on activity, and pick a queen to save?

I reached out to the Maine Swarm Tasks Force but haven't heard back. (We are located in the woods of Maine...) Is it a good idea to cut the branch of the swarm and try to do this ourselves? Tips? Winter is coming and I don’t want them to relocated to our roof.

Best,

Jill
 

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.......The hive is thriving despite no queen. I see larvae, drone cells, capped cells. .........

Jill
So, Jill, a hive can not really thrive without a queen.
:)

Just check for eggs or very young larva.
If you see them - you have a queen. End of story.

If you have no eggs/very young larva - your queen status is unknown.
To verify the status - give a test frame of eggs/young larva into the questionable hive (from the other hive).
IF the bees build emergency queen cells on the test frame - the hive is, indeed, queen-less.

And also, swarms don't usually rob existing hives.
They are frantically looking for an empty hive to move into - that is their priority.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi GregV,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, we have eggs and young larva, so in theory, we must have a queen. The swarm appeared yesterday, so I'm wondering, do you think the queen could have abandoned her hive?

The swarm was 30' up in a pine tree. We used a roof rake and two buckets to knock the majority of the swarm into buckets. (We hit the branch hard and they dropped in.) We couldn't capture all the bees in the swarm. Some would fly off when the branch was hit and then land back on the branch. Repeat. Repeat.

We did not see a queen in the swarm of bees captured. We think she stayed back on the branch. This means, in theory, we have no queen, right? We added the swarm of bees to an open box of 10 frames. Then added this box to the top of an existing hive and separated the two with a piece of paper. We fed the new bees a 1:1 syrup since they were out of the hive since yesterday and probably hungry.

Any tips or advice would be much appreciated. Why would they swarm if there was still room in the hive?

Fingers crossed, there is indeed a queen bee in the existing hive, and she's not still in the tree.

Best,

Jill
 

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They are most probably your bees. Catch them if you can. Were the hives packages or nucs (age of queen question) If you have a hive body get them in that. If you don't catch them you will have to wait for the new queen.

As Greg says look for the eggs/larva. Queen hunting in a double can be like a snipe hunt.

Wax building is going to get real slow or stop. Talk about that later posts. If your 1 to 1 caused a swarm, and I expect so you need to worry most about the hive you see the queen in. Do not feed them into a swarm too. what do you see around the brood nest? There should be a gap between eggs and nectar.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks, Saltybee. I'm relieved to hear looking for a queen in a double can be like a snipe hunt. I thought it was just me.

I'll try again tomorrow to catch more of the swarm. Captured 70% of it today.

Do you think I fed them into a swarm? Can you please elaborate on that? It's a new hive (I used a package) in northern Maine. I stopped feeding them in late June when the flowers were blooming, but by late August, very little honey was stored, so I started feeding them again. I want them to make it through winter. I love my bees. I'll check to see if there's a gap between eggs and nectar. If my memory serves me correctly, there is not a gap. What does this mean? Am I feeding them too much?
 

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It is just a sign that you are feeding close to too much. Nectar mixed into the brood is too much. After they stop making wax it is hard to get them started again.

When you are checking look for any sign of brand new comb.

Plenty of time to get them ready yet. keep posting.
 
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