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Discussion Starter #1
I have a hive that overwintered fine, with plenty of excess honey. My initial spring inspection showed that the queen was laying, but not a lot. That didn't surprise me since we had a cold spring, with late blooms, this year.

Couple of weeks ago, I noticed very little activity in front of the hive, on an 85 degree day, when the other two were hopping!. Initial inspection showed one small patch of capped brood and larvae about 1"x 2". No sign of the queen, no eggs or larvae otherwise. The hive was very mellow, lethargic almost.

I gave them a frame of eggs and another frame of eggs and larvae, hoping they'd prove there was no queen, by making a queen cell. 5 days later, upon inspection, nothing.

So I ordered a queen on Sunday. It arrived on Tuesday. I check again to make sure there was no queen. Put the mated caged queen inside, and left them alone until today.

She had been released, but there is no sign of her (she is marked and I'm actually really good at spotting queens), including no eggs. There's plenty of honey and drawn comb. I should be seeing eggs by now, correct?

I checked the bottom board, but no sign of her anywhere. Should I wait a few more days or just combine them with my other two hives?

A mated queen would be laying by now, correct?
 

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Hives go into terminal decline if they lack critical mass. The lethargic, demoralized condition of the remaining bees is a clue. I would look to supplement the hive, or abandon the cause and combine.

We've all had experience with the "cupful of bees and a queen" that became star producers, but just as often those dinks just blink out.

Eggs might be early though. Wait another 3-4 days. Feed sub, because if there is no pollen and no field force to gather, and no nurse bees to make royal jelly, there will be no eggs hatching.

I've had dink hives that I nursed along, popping brood into them repeatedly --- but the bees just ate the larvae for protein, and cleaned the comb ****-and-span. They won't brood more than they can cover, no how much you've added.
 

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I'm just back from the bee yard. I've got a colony started from a package this year where the queen crapped out and was replaced 3 weeks ago. I saw the queen but there were no eggs and/or brood. In thinking what to do, pinching the queen and combining is probably what makes the most sense. Still I am loathe to give up on a $30 queen - so I will reduce their space - transfer them to a five frame nuc box and watch to see what happens. I say this to suggest a possible strategy for you. This will be a limited time experiment. If in a week or two they don't show signs of turning around it will be off with the Queen's head (well smush anyway.)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the feedback, guys. I'm reading that quite a few people are having a tough time with queens. I'll wait a few more days to see if there are any eggs, and proceed from there.
 
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