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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I performed a split (even divide) a little over a month ago with both new hives strong in numbers and I left a full medium super of capped honey on both. When I should have had eggs in the queenless portion of the split, based on the bee calendar, they weren't present. Originally there were at least 5 queen cells and I saw them after the queen(s) hatched. I thought maybe she just hadn't started laying yet but, as insurance, I installed another frame with a portion of eggs, larvae and capped brood from the half of the split that was still queen-right. Although, we are now in a dearth and her production had tapered way down so there was a limited amount of eggs/larvae available to move. I inspected again last weekend and had capped queen cells on the insurance frame which makes me think the first attempt didn't take or she didn't make it back from mating.

I'm new to raising my own queens so I don't have the knowledge from experience to ease my mind. I have heard and read that during the dearth period, the queens will stop laying and a new queen will possibly not lay at all until a late summer or early fall flow starts coming in, if it does. Even after the divide, the hive raising the queen is 3 medium eight frame brood chambers and a medium 8 frame super. There would be a lot of frames to go through to find the new queen and I don't want to have them open any more than necessary during the dearth, particularly when so much honey is still there. They were originally very noisy when I first split but are quieter now and a lot of them beard on the landing board. A fair amount of traffic in and out but a lot of those are bringing in water to cool the hive since they are in full sun all day.

How can I tell if the insurance queen hatched and made it back? Will she lay eggs during the dearth that I can see or will she wait until flow resumes? I know bringing in pollen is a good sign but doesn't always mean they are queen-right. They had a full frame of stored pollen when split. I would appreciate any advice or suggestions you may have as I don't want this many bees to stay queenless and risk the chance of a laying worker. I also don't really want to feed syrup during the dearth, particularly since they have a full super of honey in addition to the stores in the brood chamber. Thanks.
 

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My experience (which may be conditioned by my summer dry climate) is that "walk-away" style splits work well during the expansion phase, but poorly in the mid-summer period. My expansion phase occurs from late March to late May, and during this time a little (tiny) nuc (3 mediums of bees) will raise a strong queen, and expand to fill boxes.

In the summer, anything short of double doesn't seem to raise a queen -- eating the eggs and larvae left for the purpose. The doubles raise cells, but laying failure seems to occur in high (50%) proportion, and even the new queenright seem to have trouble getting going.

I supposed my poor queen success was due to foggy cool days in high summer limiting drone flights, but I think the issue may be more universal than just my maritime fog.

I believe disease is high in summer splits, and a high proportion of the queen cells are lethal.

The 'economic' risk of devoting a double to trying to raise a queen, and losing 2 months in the process just isn't worth it after May (for my experience). It is so easy in the Spring and so hard in the Summer, and every year, I tell myself -- this year will be different, you get lulled into complacency by the ease with which splits take in the Spring.

So my shorthand calendar -- immediately after (and during) the spring flow make your walk-away style splits. In summer, buy queens and install them.
 

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Your going to have to wait about another 30 days before you check for eggs again. It will take about 12days before you have a virgin again, then 4-5days for her to mature and harden off, then another 4-5 days before you will see eggs if she mates successfully. Your mature queen may slow down during the dearth but, once your new queen mates she should start laying. I have never had a new queen not lay just because you are in a dearth. As long as you keep some brood in your split you should not have to worry about laying workers. Laying workers will normally start shortly after all the brood in the hive has hatched out. You may have to add another frame to your split before your new queen gets mated and starts laying, the hive may get too weak between now and your new queen starting to lay. So keep an eye on your split. Hope that makes sense to ya.
 

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Are the 2 hives in shade for the summer, or is there anything you can do to provide them the shade so brood rearing doesn't slow down? And are you willing to feed thin syrup to encourage comb building? Summer in the Tidewater area doesn't have to mean a slow down in brood, if you give them the things they need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
They are in full sun but I'm providing water for them nearby. I'm willing to feed them syrup, if necessary but I'm concerned about creating a robbing situation since they are not currently queen-right. That's the reason I left all the honey on both. They should have at least three medium brood boxes of comb since almost all the brood has hatched by now. I would prefer that the queen begin laying once she returns to give them time to build up for winter. I just read somewhere that they stop laying during a dearth. Good to hear you guys say the new queen should begin laying even though there's no nectar coming in.

JWChesnut: Being a new beek, I didn't mean to be in this situation in the middle of summer but didn't think that much about having to make two runs at it. When I divided the column we still had flow coming in although it had begun to taper off. Unfortunately, when the first queen out didn't make it back, I had to insert new eggs and let them start over. This is the second run at them rearing a queen. She should have emerged last week and my bee calendar shows possibly seeing eggs today.....provided she made it back and starts up. I usually don't have a problem finding queens but I don't want to keep the hive open looking for her. I hope I can pull a frame in the middle of a box, see eggs or larvae and close it up.

Any other suggestions of what to do? Should I feed light syrup to stimulate her? Thanks to all for their help.
 

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After almost 2 months of an unsuccessful requeening, I would recommend to buy a new laying queen for them.
It is because we are near the closing of the year that they need to have some new bees to over winter with. If you leave
them be then it will be another month or so to make a new queen and whether or not it is a successful mating flight is still
in question because of the drone decrease in the summer time during a dearth. If you feed them right then the new queen still
lay some eggs to keep the hive healthy into the winter. I thought of recombining the 2 strong hives but they may fight if that
is the case. When you test them with a new queen they either accept her by fanning or biting the cage with the new queen inside.
Besides, a queen right hive will have calmer worker bees than a queen less hive which is very restless and disorganized everywhere
in the hive.
 

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Any other suggestions of what to do? Should I feed light syrup to stimulate her? Thanks to all for their help.
Buy a queen. Install the cage and observe behavior. If they rush the cage with abdomen's lifted, they recognize the cage as their sole hope of a queen. If they try and sting the cage, or bite it with their jaws, they believe they have another queen (even a virgin, non-layer).

If you are queenless, you now have a queen.
If the hive believes it is queen-right, even if non-laying, you have a more complicated decision.
a. the raised virgin is a dink, and you need to destroy it and replace
b. the raised virgin is just slow getting started.

In case b, make up a nuc from your strong hive and introduce the new queen. -- you now possess 3 hives and all that entails.

You may discover the hive continues to struggle, and you will combine the nuc and the remains of the colony soon. It is very likely below the critical threshold of young bee population. You are better off lavishing the brood frame on the new problem-free nuc.

High levels of mite-virus leads to all sorts of failures to thrive and queen failure at hatching. The queens get virus just like any other bee.

I believe the worst decision is to continue to rob the strong colony and feed frame after frame into a colony that is showing no ability to thrive. At 2 months out, the bees have reached the end of their life, and all the population is being fed into the hive from your other colony. You are simply depleting the source colony at this point.

Having two (or three) active colonies is absolutely essential - but the best way to get one in midsummer is with a lay-ready queen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Checked today and we now have eggs and larvae. Second time around the queen must have made it back safely. Pattern looks good so hopefully was squeaked by this time. I have a nuc also that should have had a queen laying by now. At least if it doesn't end up queen-right, I won't feel as bad combining it with the original hive.
 
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