If you've got the resources - go for it! Timing isn't ideal, but with a little luck with the weather you can have mated queens in time to tuck them in for the winter! Worst case is you're still in the same boat. Good luck, I've made the decision to do the same here to try a couple extra nucs for overwintering.
We are at about the latest time for nuc making here in Maine and that is with mated queens. You have a month of nice weather but all that will be taken up with the bees rearing a queen and, if you're lucky, getting mated.
Then she has to lay all the eggs for the winter bee population that you need for a successful cluster. Do you think you have enough time to "go for it?" You are looking at perhaps mid-October for her first brood to hatch into your overwinter cluster. I've been to Montana. It gets cold there in October just as it does here in Maine.
I'd not waste the time letting a hive raise a queen that is too late on the scene. I'd look to buy mated queens now and give the hives a fighting chance. Alternately, combine those hives with ones not doomed to failure.
Here's a tip for requeening your hive late in the season... First take a good frame of pollen (leave the bees on it) and a good frame of honey from the hive. Put both frames in a swarm or nuk box and shake a few frames of bees in to the box with them. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SHAKE YOUR ORIGINAL QUEEN IN WITH THEM. Keep the box closed up tight. 24 hrs later take a few nice frames of eggs and the smallest lavra that you can find in the lower brood chamber of the same and put them in between the honey and pollen (move the other frames in the brood chamber together and fill the blanks on the sides with honey frames...you may have to trade a few out with a stronger hive). Leave them there for another 36 hours and find your original queen and move her to the lower brood chamber and place a queen excluder on top of that super.
What you have just done is made a cell builder and a primer nuk.
But you do not have to make a graft if you are only going to requeen one hive...
The primed nuk is going to be hopelessly queenless and they will choose a few 3 day old larva to draw out into replacement cells... let them...
After they have had there way with the egg frames for 36 hrs or so, simply place the egg frames in the center of the upper brood chamber and the honey frame on one side and the pollen on the other (just like it was when it was in the nuk). The uncapped brood frames will draw nurse bees up from the lower brood chamber and they will continue to draw and feed the replacement cells (so long as your excluder keeps the old momma from getting to them).
Now its just a race to see which one hatches first. 12 days after you placed the eggs in the swarm box, you can take the excluder off of the hive. Nature will take its course and you will end up with a new queen and a larger brood chamber...without missing any days of laying.
We have studied the behavior of new queens introduced to older ones for many many years and in almost all cases the new queen will pass up the old and focus on mating...all while the old queen continues to lay. In the majority of cases BOTH queens will lay for a few days until the new queen has filled out and then the old queen will begin to shink and die (once the new queen is laying strong enough, the bees will simply stop feeding the old one).
It sounds like a lot of work, but its really quite simple once you are doing it.
PS... We will have queens available until late september if you just want to do it the easy way. lol. Thanks!
Tempting as it may be, even if everything goes absolutely perfect, you will not have new bees for about 50 days. That's the 2nd week in October and most, if not all, of the workers you have now will be dead by then. Since you mention the hives already are not doing well, I assume you do not now have a lot of frames of eggs/larvae/brood. The month of hot weather your hoping for is when they are raising a queen, not when she's laying eggs and rearing brood.
I think it's too late for us in the northern climes to safely let our bees raise a new queen and still develop the stores and bees needed for a harsh winter. Better to get a mated queen, let her get 2+ brood cycles in during the 50 days instead of hopefully one and send them into winter nice and strong.
All that I can say is I just hope that you have good luck with all your Bee Hives this coming freezing weather. I buy all my Queens from Russell Apiaries, Russell is good to buy your Queens and your Bees from. :lookout:
I'm part of this "do it" crowd and I really appreciate Mr. Russell's comments. Excellent insight.
I am of the school that believes as long as you have drones and good mating weather, the queen will mate, then return to the hive to lay eggs. I've had fresh eggs in October, which for SE Missouri is a little unusual. I usually feed syrup and pollen patties (protein substitute) until around November 1st anyway which helps.
In our neighborhood, it really doesn't turn cold and stay cold until after Christmas. It's not the weather outside but the amount of bees inside that makes the difference. On the other hand, if the hive population has dwindled down too far, no requeening will help. Small and weak hives are just not destined to survive the winter without extreme measures.
I'm trying desperately to save my queenless hive. I'm requeening (mid-November in the Northern Neck of Virginia). The first queen I put in was mailed to me and died before the workers could get her out of the cage. I'm driving out to retrieve another queen today and will install her tomorrow.
The temps here are holding steady at mid 60's during the day and 30-40 degrees F at night. Right now there's still a good population of house bees.
Can you share with me any tips or techniques that would perhaps produce more successful results?
Does it make sense to requeen now given that there might not be enough brood produced to winter over?
Dig out 3/4 of the candy and make sure you place her in the center of the clustering bees that are in your hive and take out the workers that are in the cage with her, get the workers out in a small room with a window in case she get loose so you can recapture her and place her back into the q cage
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