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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a nuc that really stuggled thru late winter. The queen is a Minn. Hyg. I Mountain Camped them hoping that would help. They did make it. So here's my new dilemna...

While my other nucs and hives have really strarted cranking out the frames of brood, this one is just not doing well. She was a laying fool in the late summer and early fall. Now, she's just kinda hanging around. The nuc was down to what looked like 200-250 bees. There are about 20 capped brood, maybe. I also saw some eggs in cells. BUT, in numerous, I saw 2-3 eggs. I've dug through my books and searched the net for some hints, but nothing pops up.

Any ideas what might take a super great laying queen and lead her to laying 2-3 eggs in the same cell?
 

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Maybe she is amped up to lay but there isn't enough workers to cover what she wants to lay. Did you see the queen in there? Maybe she is there but has failed and you have laying workers.
 

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Many scenarios possible... The hive may have swarmed last fall and the queen was replaced by young queen which is just beginning to lay, she hasn't adapted completely yet.... The queen may have died and was replaced by laying workers (high probability). The queen may have just run out of sperm... I'm sure there will be other possibilities suggested. OMTCW
 

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What do capped brood cells look like? Drones, or any worker capped cells? But as mentioned, you've got reason to be concerned.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The original Q is in there. I marked her late summer. The eggs are laying in the bottom. Capped brood is NOT drone brood.
 

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Sounds like you have a worker laying eggs. Queens NEVER lay more than one to a cell. You need to requeen.
 

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Could be that she doesn't have enough bees to clean out cells for her to lay in. Adding a frame of capped brood with bees from one of the other hives could help.
 

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The original Q is in there. I marked her late summer. The eggs are laying in the bottom. Capped brood is NOT drone brood.

theriverhawk,

I had exactly the same symptoms this spring with a swarm I caught last summer: strange, small brood pattern of worker bood (not drone) and several cells with 2 eggs instead of 1, all in the bottom of the cell.

In my case it was a failing queen. I added frames of capped brood from another hive to build up the number of nurse bees in the failing hive, and they eventually superceded the failing queen.

-fafrd
 

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I see this fairly often. The queen is truing her best to lay, but there aren't enough bees to maintain a broodnest that will support the queen. So she re-lays within her pattern. The bees eat the extra eggs. If you could boost the population, they could expand the area in which she can lay successfully. You could add yong bees from another colony, or a frame of bees with a small patch of emegring. Don't just add a frame of brood that they can't take care or.
 

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Sounds like you have a worker laying eggs. Queens NEVER lay more than one to a cell. You need to requeen.
Actually queens do occasionally lay more than one egg in a cell. I see this alot with young queens who have just started laying. After a few days they usually straighten themselves out.

Michael Palmer,

That is an interesting hypothesis on an overwintered queen with a very small brood nest. Have you ever watched a colony like this in an observation hive?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for your responses...
It's a new queen from last summer, and she layed well last summer. So I am going to assume that she isn't failing...yet. I'm going to guess there just isn't enough bees to keep the layed eggs warm right now, so she is continuing to lay. Here's what I'm thinking about doing.

1. I'm going to take a frame of hatching brood from a STRONG hive in the yard.
2. I'm going to switch this nuc and the same strong hive. I'm thinking bees will return to their old location, thus helping the population of this nuc, again.

Any thoughts on this plan?
 

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The first part of your plan sounds good, older foragers that may not be accepting of the queen in the weaker hive will simply return to their parent location and the younger nurse/house bees will stay (they never have any problems accepting a queen), but be careful about the second part of your plan - returning foragers from a different hive may not accept this strange queen and they could kill her. It is especially likely since she doesn't have many of her own bees to protect her. I've seen this happen too often that I no longer do this, even with nucs.
 

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Thanks, I replied with the info my bee class has given. They never mentioned this as a sign of a failing queen. It is good to know. Also, that is another reason I am so glad I discovered this forum!
 

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When you take the frame of capped brood, take the bees with it. They will need them. I spray my frames with sugar water to help the new bees get excepted.
 

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Maybe add 2 frames with nurse bees if you have them. I spray with sugar water for acceptance also. I've been told that a little vanilla flavoring in the sugar water is guaranteed to mask each other's scent.

Let us know how you make out.
 

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returning foragers from a different hive may not accept this strange queen and they could kill her. It is especially likely since she doesn't have many of her own bees to protect her. I've seen this happen too often that I no longer do this, even with nucs.
It will work fairly well if there is a good flowing going on but if there is not it can be catastrophic. I learned the hard way too.
 

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I had this happend a couple weeks ago. There's a thread kicking around someplace. The original hive decided to supercede, so I put her in a nuc and she's laying normally there now.
 

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Instead of switching positions with strong hive, maybe just add the frame of emerging brood and shake or brush in another frame worth of nurse bees from open larva frames. It's the young nurse bees that will help your queen out more than anything. Also, with low field force, put on a feeder if there's little or no open nectar in the hive, which I bet is the case since they're so small in population.
 

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Michael Palmer,

That is an interesting hypothesis on an overwintered queen with a very small brood nest. Have you ever watched a colony like this in an observation hive?
I've not seen it in an observation hive. Did see it in a weak colony this spring. My help thought the colony had laying workers. I looked ans yes there were multiple eggs in many cells. Even 3 in some. But, they weren't haphazard as laying worker egges are...although there were multiples, they were layed nicely in the bottom of the cell. Laying worker eggs are at weird angles and some on the sidewalls. I did spot the marked queen.
 
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