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Discussion Starter #1
My year-old hive has swarmed several times this year, and I'm trying to figure
out if I need to requeen it. I may have a weak queen, but I'm not sure how
fast queens are supposed to lay.

Sorry for the long post! I'm new to beekeeping, and I don't know what to
expect, so I'm trying to write down everything I observe. I have a top bar
hive with about 12 or so combs in it.

Timeline:
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Early April: The brood comb was packed, but I didn't have another hive to
relieve the pressure. The honey comb was pretty empty of honey, but the bees
were active 3-4 combs deep because there were so many of them. Lots of swarm
cells (peanut shaped cells, about an inch long) formed around the edges of the
brood comb. Through the glass window on the side of the hive, I could see
about 10 or so.

Late April: Neighbors say the hive swarmed, although I was not home. They said
the swarm filled my backyard and several others, but they didn't see whether it
finally formed into a ball of bees.

May 4: Hive swarmed again. I caught the swarm off my fence and gave it to a
fellow beekeeper. Still lots of swarm cells (maybe up to 15 now?). The hive
was still pretty crowded.

May 10: Hive swarmed a third time. My neighbor's landlord captured it from one
of his bushes and put a langstroph hive on the other side of the fence from my
hive.

May 28 (two weeks ago): I noticed some of the remaining swarm cells had been
aborted (chewed through on the side), so I assumed the new queen was in there.
The bees were active, although not as active as before they had swarmed. They
were occupying about about 6-7 brood combs, with plenty wandering in the honey comb.

Today: I looked through the glass window and saw that the bees were only active
in about four combs I could see. There was a considerably lower amount
of bees coming in and out of the entrance, although that might have been
because it was cloudy and around 60 degrees F. I decided to take the top off
and look inside.

The bees were much more docile than last fall when I tried to harvest honey.
It seemed like much of the hive went with the last swarm, and I'm down to maybe
only 2-3 pounds of bees. The swarm cells are all either aborted or opened at
the bottom, except for two at the edge of some honey comb that seem abandoned
(perhaps old and never hatched?).

I was also concerned because I saw several adult workers with deformed wing
virus. There was maybe 2-3 total in the honey combs, 2-3 per comb in the brood
comb, with up to 7-10 in the most active brood comb. I did see some smaller
(newly hatched?) bees without deformed wings, so some of the new brood is fine.

I'm just not sure if the new queen is laying fast enough, or consistently
enough. I do see signs of laying, with one egg per cell, and flat capped
brood, so I don't think I have a laying worker. But I also see some caps deep
in the cells, some crooked, around the edges of some of the brood comb.

Most of the fully formed capped comb is in three of the combs in the heart of
the brood comb. The caps are in a rough circle in the center, in an area
roughly the size of 3/4 of my (small woman's) hand. The capped area isn't
uniform, with maybe 10-15 cells that are uncapped. A few of the uncapped cells
in the middle have new eggs in them, but many of the "spotty" cells seem
empty. There are larvae that are starting to get larger around the edges of
the capped cells, and some are fat enough to fill the bottom. The larvae take
up an inch or two ring around the capped cells.

I guess I'm concerned because I don't see any eggs outside the ring of larvae.
I could just be bad at spotting them. I do see liquid in some of the cells
further from the center of the comb, but I'm not sure if that's honey or royal
jelly. How fast should a queen be laying eggs? Shouldn't more of the brood
comb have eggs in them by now? The presence of the deformed wings and the
serious reduction of workers is also concerning.

I did not see the queen, although I looked for her, but I'm probably pretty bad
at spotting her.

Does it sound like I need to requeen at this point? Or should I just give the
hive another week and see if the queen is laying better? I can order a queen
tomorrow, but she will not arrive until Tuesday (Ruhl bee supply gets their
order of queens in every Tuesday). So if I wait, the hive may have a weak
queen for up to a week and a half, which seems pretty bad considering the small
number of bees I currently have.
 

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I do not believe that an ordered queen (unless it is local) is worth a squat, so judge my response with that in mind.

I have rarely seen a hive go queenless during a Spring swarm (a July swarm is a different matter.) If I found brood, I would definitely not requeen them. Yes, you may have a weak queen (I seriously doubt it, although I do no know what the weather has been in your area over the last week or so), but it is unlikely.

In all likelihood, you have a recently mated queen that has just started to lay. She is ramping up and (again, I do not know your area) it may not be during the prime flow. So, she is laying per the rate at which resources are coming in.

I would let her run with it at best and, at worst, I would pinch her head and let them raise another queen on their own. I would definitely not order an unproven queen from a nonlocal.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If I found brood, I would definitely not requeen them. Yes, you may have a weak queen (I seriously doubt it, although I do no know what the weather has been in your area over the last week or so), but it is unlikely.
Weather was sunny in the 70s last week, rainy the week before, and cloudy this week. Necter flow was really good 2-3 weeks ago when fruit trees were blooming, but has started to slow down.

In all likelihood, you have a recently mated queen that has just started to lay. She is ramping up and (again, I do not know your area) it may not be during the prime flow. So, she is laying per the rate at which resources are coming in.
Ok, that makes sense that she would be laying at the rate resources are coming in. I wasn't really keen on ordering a queen, although I think Ruhl Bees gets their queens from somewhere in Washington (I'm in Oregon). My hive is from a local swarm, and I'd like to keep the local genes in tact.
 
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