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I performed this seasons first thorough hive inspection on our two backyard hives today. The first hive looked pretty good with all stages of brood and a booming population and what seems to be enough stores. The second hive was quite different. This hive went into winter being possibly queenless. General consensus of the bee club was to leave it since it was so late in the season and reevaluate come spring. The population was about medium with good stores. There was absolutely zero sign of brood or eggs and no queen that I could find. In the top box in the center of one frame was a freshly made and empty queen cup. Next to the cup was a sealed queen cell. I'm really confused how there is a sealed queen cell when there are absolutely no eggs in the hive. Have they run out of options and just hoping for a miracle? I traded a frame of eggs from the other hive for a frame of honey in hopes that they can get queenright. Any thoughts about all this?
 

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Well done. When in doubt give them eggs. If they need to make a queen, they will. The only question then is whether there are drones to mate with. In WI it will be quite awhile before we can raise queens. If they can't raid a good queen, maybe the new bees from the eggs will help them maintain population until you can get them one.
 

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Good point about the drones. I was thinking of that in the fall but it completely slipped my mind today. There's about sixteen other hives in my neighborhood so hopefully they have drones out by the time my queen is looking to party.
 

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"They stolled an egg from a nearby hive."

That thought did jokingly run through my mind. I'm really hoping someone might be able to explain it. My wife was asking if there could have been eggs at one point that they used but then I would be seeing brood. So....
 

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You guys are gotta be just joking about moving eggs from one hive to another. I thought I had read that they can't do that, although they can eat the eggs. Varyan, are you in Hampton Roads area of VA? Having queen issues myself. Must have been the crazy weather. They built queen cups in Feb and the queen laid eggs in them. The resulting queen didn't get mated well, and she only lays very few eggs (which are probably drone eggs). Maybe your hive requeened itself last fall with a poorly mated queen, who is only laying very sporadically. I have seen drones flying outside my hive, and many more capped larvae, so you new queen should be in good company when she hatches out.
 

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Yeah, I was kidding about the stealing eggs but I am not convinced that in an emergency a fall virgin wouldn't mate with one of her brothers resulting in only a few fertilized eggs.
 

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>I'm really confused how there is a sealed queen cell when there are absolutely no eggs in the hive. Have they run out of options and just hoping for a miracle?

Bees will build queen cells with drone eggs in them when they have drone laying queens or laying workers. On very rare occasions they manage to rear an actual queen (Parthenogenisis via Thelytoky)

http://www.beesource.com/point-of-v...n-a-strain-of-us-honey-bees-apis-mellifera-l/
 

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I have a colony that came out of the winter queenless. I am sure there is no queen. I gave them a frame of eggs, which was ignored, however they now have a queen cell on the adjacent frame. The only conclusion I can come up with is an egg or larva was moved. Has anyone else seen this?
 

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If I was faced with the same situation, I would combine the queenless colony with the queenright colony after making sure there is no queen. Couple reasons:
1. If they started winter queenless, the cluster is full of many old bees that may not be up to the task of raising brood. They may start extremely slowly, raising only small patches of brood and fail to buildup in time to make a crop.
2. Stealing frames of brood to prop them up will weaken your strong hive since you're essentially pulling splits.

On the other hand if you combine them, you're going to create an extra strong hive that is going to build up faster and have bigger numbers in time for the flow. Make your split right before the flow - in this way you'll maximize your chances of having a good, strong split.
 

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I agree, that is my normal approach, if the population is to low. Unfortunately this is my only TBH.
 

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I had a similar situation. Only thing I could come up with is that my original queen was still in the hive but only laying very very sporadically. Bees built queen cells and a couple got eggs put in them. they capped them, then tore them apart. Built a few more and as of Sat, I finally saw a new queen. This has been going on since Feb 24 in my hive. My only advice is hang in there and see what hatches. The good thing is that places can ship queens now and there is a chance they will survive the flight. My two attempts in early March did not. Now my whole hive is a month behind, but at least I still have it.
 
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