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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Obviously I have messed up to be in this situation, but like anyone, want to make the best of it. I don't know exactly what is going on, but it looks like I have had a swarm. I have two hives, one is thriving, the other is in questionable shape.

I was gone for about 3 weeks, came back 5 days ago and inspected about half the hive and there was no queen (that I could find), eggs or uncapped brood. Probably less than 50 capped brood all located in one group. Today I did a complete inspections and there is no capped brood, uncapped brood, or eggs except for about 6 queen cells at the bottom of one frame in the center of the upper box. Some were capped, one almost capped, and two with larva in it.

This was a package that had some drawn comb to start from, but the queen had a very poor laying pattern from the start. I should have replaced her a long time ago. There are two deep boxes, about 6 on the bottom are drawn and completely empty. One is loaded with pollen, the others have some honey. The top box has about four frames of honey total, all concentrated at the top of the frames. The outer four frames are not even drawn yet.

How could I have no other brood but larva in the queen cells? But more importantly what do I do to make the most of this hive. Our local bee store had queens available last week and probably still does. I also have a second hive that is thriving that I could borrow from.

I would guess there is about 5 lbs of bees. They temperament is still great. Sorry for the poor photos. Phone with gloves on, need to improve this too...

I see my options as:

1) leave it alone, hope it requeens itself.
2) Add a queen, hope she is not killed by an emerging queen.
3) Split the hive to nucs and overwinter then nucs.

Being inexperienced I am leaning towards option 1.


image.jpg image-1.jpg image-2.jpg image-3.jpg image-4.jpg image-5.jpg
 

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> 1) leave it alone, hope it requeens itself.

If it has no brood and no queen it cannot requeen itself. If you give them some brood they may. Usually when you think they are queenless they are not. But queen larvae and not other larvae is suspicious. Probably laying workers that haven't reached the point where the egg police can't keep up so you don't have double eggs yet. Since they are in the mood to raise a queen, some open brood and eggs may set things right.

>2) Add a queen, hope she is not killed by an emerging queen.

I don't think you have an emerging queen. I think you have queen cells with drones in them...

>3) Split the hive to nucs and overwinter then nucs.

I don't see how this solves your current problems.

bushfarms.com/beespanecea.htm
 

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> 1) leave it alone, hope it requeens itself.

If it has no brood and no queen it cannot requeen itself. If you give them some brood they may. Usually when you think they are queenless they are not. But queen larvae and not other larvae is suspicious. Probably laying workers that haven't reached the point where the egg police can't keep up so you don't have double eggs yet. Since they are in the mood to raise a queen, some open brood and eggs may set things right.

>2) Add a queen, hope she is not killed by an emerging queen.

I don't think you have an emerging queen. I think you have queen cells with drones in them...
Wow that can happen? You can get a drone larva raised in a queen cell? If so you learn something new everyday.

On your #3 option you don't solve the problem of being queenless. My suggestion which is maybe what your were asking is to combine with a strong hive and just overwinter both. Now this does pose a problem if you do have laying workers then they will fight your existing queen. The alternative is to get a new queen. But the problem you might have depending on your weather is not enough time to build up for winter. I would add a frame of open brood. Then I would check it for queen cells the next day. If they started queen cells I would knock them down and introduce a mated queen that day.
 

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mr. bush's answers, as often is pretty darn good. if you are in the north it is getting late to add brood and raise a queen, get a mated queen quick. you said you had no brood this means no laying worker problem yet, this does not happen in an instant [laying workers out of control] it builds up after no queen and all brood emerged.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First, thanks for the quick answers. I am in southwest Cleveland, OH. So, is this too far north for them to raise their own queen this time of year?

When you take a frame of brood and eggs, do you take the bees on the frame or shake them off? My hives are a 15 minute drive to each other. I have a nuc box to transport frames unless there is something better.

A new queen is a 35 minute drive from my house.

Just for explanation, what I called option 3 (which sounds like a bad idea anyway) was to get new queens for the split. I was assuming they would not be strong enough for full hives and could be overwintered in my barn.
 

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Honestly I would add a frame of mixed open and capped brood from your strong hive and add a mated queen. I would shake bees from the frame and use your nuc box to transport. Then add the queen the same day. hopefully they will store enough on the fall flow to winter if not you're going to have to feed.
 

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Is this your only hive? If not, put what you have on top of the hive next to it and see if they will fill the combs w/ honey. Seems late to do much of anything which might be worth while as far as this hive of bees is concerned. So put the resources to the best of uses and combine them w/ another colony.

Be sure the frames don't harbor any AFB.
 

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>Wow that can happen? You can get a drone larva raised in a queen cell? If so you learn something new everyday.

I've seen it many times. It's been documented since Huber:

http://www.bushfarms.com/huber.htm#onlymaleeggs

"Speaking of females laying male eggs alone, I have already expressed my surprise that bees bestow, on those deposited in royal cells, such care and attention as to feed the worms proceeding from them, and, at the period of transformation, to close them up. But I know not, Sir, why I omitted to observe that, after sealing the royal cells, the workers build them up, and sit on them until the last metamorphosis of the included male. The treatment of the royal cells where fertile workers lay the eggs of drones is very different. They begin indeed with bestowing every care on their eggs and worms; they close the cells at a suitable time, but never fail to destroy them three days afterwards. "--New Observations on the Natural History Of Bees Volume I by François Huber

And also with drone laying queens:
http://www.bushfarms.com/huber.htm#maleeggsinroyalcells

"It is a singular fact, that the females, whose fecundation has been retarded, sometimes lay the eggs of males in royal cells. I shall prove, in the history of swarms, that immediately when queens, in the natural state, begin their great laying of male eggs, the workers construct numerous royal cells. Undoubtedly, there is some secret relation between the appearance of male eggs and the construction of these cells; for it is a law of nature from which bees never derogate. It is not surprising, therefore, that such cells are constructed in hives governed by queens laying the eggs of males only. It is no longer extraordinary that these queens deposit in the royal cells, eggs of the only species they can lay, for in general their instinct seems affected. But what I cannot comprehend is, why the bees take exactly the same care of the male eggs deposited in royal cells, as of those that should become queens. They provide them more plentifully with food, they build up the cells as if containing a royal worm; in a word, they labour with such regularity that we have frequently been deceived. More than once, in the firm persuasion of finding royal nymphs, we have opened the cells after they were sealed, yet the nymph of a drone always appeared. Here the instinct of the workers seemed defective. In the natural state, they can accurately distinguish the male worms from those of common bees, as they never fail giving a particular covering to the cells containing the former. Why then can they no longer distinguish the worms of drones, when deposited in the royal cell? The fact deserves much attention. I am convinced that to investigate the instinct of animals, we must carefully observe where it appears to err. " --François Huber, New Observations on the Natural History Of Bees, LETTER III. 21. August 1791.

>First, thanks for the quick answers. I am in southwest Cleveland, OH. So, is this too far north for them to raise their own queen this time of year?

They will have time to raise a queen, yes. But the real question is will they have time to recover. With an early frost, probably not. With a late "first frost" probably.

> When you take a frame of brood and eggs, do you take the bees on the frame or shake them off? My hives are a 15 minute drive to each other.

I would leave the bees on the frame to care for the brood while you transport them. Make sure there is no queen on the frame...

>I have a nuc box to transport frames unless there is something better.

A nuc box is good. You probably need to fill out the box with empty frames so the one doesn't slide sideways and fall off the rests.

>A new queen is a 35 minute drive from my house.

I'd still give them the open brood and wait 24 hours at least before trying to introduce a queen. The brood pheromones will improve acceptance.
 

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I made post number 8... to clarify.... can the bees make their own queen now? yes..is it to late to get her mated? a month or 5 weeks now to average first frost maybe 50:50 to 70:30, so yes it is getting real late. is it too late for a new self raised queen to get mated, start laying well, and get the colony ready for winter? yes for sure. so put a mated queen in now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just wanted to follow up, I added the frame of brood. The first picture is from the added frame. The second picture is the queen cups in the hive and a few uncapped larva next to them. These is the only section with larva. The third picture is from the frame next to the one with queen cups. I wasn't sure what it was, it looks like it might have been where old queen cups attached.

I'll get the queen tomorrow after work.

Added Frame.jpg Larva queen cup.jpg Old Cups.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
bees.jpg

Another followup... I did add brood on 8/12 the queen on 8/13, and checked about a week later and she had been released. I found her, there was a lot of activity around her, easy to find. I was worried it was too much activity around her actually.

Just did an inspection yesterday, and it looks now like I have laying workers and no queen. The attached pic is typical of every lower brood frame.

At this point, I am figuring that the hive will not be able to make it through winter and I should probably not dump more time and effort into it, but I guess the point of posts is to get ideas from others with more experience.

I have one other hive that is very strong and should have a good chance making it through winter.

So, any thoughts?
 

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>So, any thoughts?

Laying workers are a pain... the only foolproof solutions I've found is to shake all the bees out and give the equipment to the other hives or give them a frame of open brood every week for three weeks... everything else is just trying to improve "really poor odds" to just "poor odds".
 

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I have the same problem. Weak hive and can't find a queen. There are a good number of bees and a noticeable about of those fat headed, BIG eyed drones. I didn't see any larve and the last of the Mohicans in capped cells. I think once they hatch it's just a die off from there. Wondering about my options. Thought it might be worth a try to put a healthy Frame of eggs from my strong hive and see if they can raise a queen.
 

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You can always let them raise an new queen, but it's getting late in the season for them to get it done and get the queen mated and recover from the broodless period in that will happen while they do that. You many need to combine later anyway... depending on when the first hard freeze is and when the fall flow gives out.
 
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