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Discussion Starter #1
I have a package that was installed April 5th and were queenless until April 16th. Accepted new queen and she started laying within a couple of days.
Got some brood but never much worker brood then looks like maybe she was a drone layer.

They have a couple queen cells, three fully drawn comb with stores and some brood.
Should I move them to a nuc? They are confined by follower board to 11 frames now. My nucs are about that size as well.
 

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>I have a package that was installed April 5th and were queenless until April 16th. Accepted new queen and she started laying within a couple of days. Got some brood but never much worker brood then looks like maybe she was a drone layer.

Usually a drone layer lays nothing but drones. What percent drones is she laying? Of course a package usually doesn't raise any drones...

>They have a couple queen cells

If she is laying SOME worker cells, these may be viable. If she is laying nothing but drones, these are likely filled with drone larvae...

> three fully drawn comb with stores and some brood. Should I move them to a nuc?

I think the issue is what to do about the queen... you can. The need to a compress a colony is more about comb to guard than anything else. Early in the spring heat is an issue, but that time is pretty much past now...

>They are confined by follower board to 11 frames now. My nucs are about that size as well.

So what is the gain?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
>I have a package that was installed April 5th and were queenless until April 16th. Accepted new queen and she started laying within a couple of days. Got some brood but never much worker brood then looks like maybe she was a drone layer.

Usually a drone layer lays nothing but drones. What percent drones is she laying? Of course a package usually doesn't raise any drones...

>They have a couple queen cells

If she is laying SOME worker cells, these may be viable. If she is laying nothing but drones, these are likely filled with drone larvae...

> three fully drawn comb with stores and some brood. Should I move them to a nuc?

I think the issue is what to do about the queen... you can. The need to a compress a colony is more about comb to guard than anything else. Early in the spring heat is an issue, but that time is pretty much past now...

>They are confined by follower board to 11 frames now. My nucs are about that size as well.

So what is the gain?
She laid a few worker cells but drone numbers greatly outnumbered the worker cells once they started capping. I do not know exactly what happened to her, I can only assume that they killed her? There haven't been any eggs in the hive for quite sometime.

As far as what's the gain, I guess that was my question. Maybe a better question would be... should I condense them down at all?

I have two additional packages installed. Both are building comb since Monday and we'll be checking them on Saturday. Would it be worth it to take one of their partial combs (with eggs if the queen is laying) and swap it into the old hive for their partial comb? If they are drones in those cells do the bees "know" and would take that opportunity to build queen cells with the new eggs/larva?
 

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>She laid a few worker cells but drone numbers greatly outnumbered the worker cells once they started capping. I do not know exactly what happened to her, I can only assume that they killed her? There haven't been any eggs in the hive for quite sometime.

I would keep track of what you know for sure. Make your best guess as to when you last saw her.

>Would it be worth it to take one of their partial combs (with eggs if the queen is laying) and swap it into the old hive for their partial comb? If they are drones in those cells do the bees "know" and would take that opportunity to build queen cells with the new eggs/larva?

Yes. Make sure they have eggs and open brood from a queenright hive in case they need a queen. They know they are drones and they will dispose of them before they emerge. They will welcome fertile eggs to raise a real queen from if they need one. If they don't start any cells, then there may be a virgin running around...

>As far as what's the gain, I guess that was my question. Maybe a better question would be... should I condense them down at all?

If they have a lot of excess room they may profit from less room, but you could just move the follower right?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I keep detailed notes. April 25th I noted good egg pattern, barely hatched larva. Saw queen wandering the comb that day. 29th checked for capped brood and refill syrup. Brood capped... this is the day I noticed the queen cups.

May 3rd confirmed queen cells.

Haven't been in there since then. They are still bringing pollen in.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
One queen cell looked hatched, the other looks like it was maybe torn down?

I wish I would have taken a picture. The tip of the queen cell had gotten pretty dark and the opening looked kinda "roughly" opened.
 

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>I keep detailed notes. April 25th I noted good egg pattern, barely hatched larva. Saw queen wandering the comb that day.

>29th checked for capped brood and refill syrup. Brood capped... this is the day I noticed the queen cups.
>May 3rd confirmed queen cells.

Capped? Assuming not, they were at least larvae at that point I assume, so the queen should emerge no later than 12 days later and be mated most likely 14 days after that which puts it at May 29th to expect eggs and June 5th at the outside. Assuming they had real queens in those cells and not drones.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
>I keep detailed notes. April 25th I noted good egg pattern, barely hatched larva. Saw queen wandering the comb that day.

>29th checked for capped brood and refill syrup. Brood capped... this is the day I noticed the queen cups.
>May 3rd confirmed queen cells.

Capped? Assuming not, they were at least larvae at that point I assume, so the queen should emerge no later than 12 days later and be mated most likely 14 days after that which puts it at May 29th to expect eggs and June 5th at the outside. Assuming they had real queens in those cells and not drones.
Capped on May 3rd it appeared. Here's a picture:


One had hatched and the other possibly torn down when we looked last night May 8th. Which puts her mating sometime around early next week, correct? Puts her possibly laying around May 23-30, no?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If one had emerged by last night I would expect her to be laying about the 22nd. The 29th at the very latest.
Is there any point to go into the hive before then to look at anything? Tomorrow I'm planning on swapping a partially drawn comb from the virgin queen hive for a comb with eggs from our new package (if they are already laying and without bringing the queen over obviously), just in case they are in need of larva to rear a queen. So basically swapping an empty comb over for a comb with eggs into the virgin queen hive in case it doesn't actually have a virigin queen.

Is there any point it trying to find the virgin? My brain says no, but as a new beekeeper I kind of want to see what the hive is like if she's in there.

Also, are their any telltale mating flight signs or do they look pretty much like normal hive activity?
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I've reduced them down to five top bars, the drones have begun emerging and there's a bunch of them in the hive. I put a comb with eggs and young larva from our new package hive (about 3/4 of one side of the comb had brood) on Saturday afternoon. We took a quick peek last night 48-hours later, lots of bigger larva but no queen cells were constructed. Is there any circumstance in which a non-queenright hive would NOT build queen cells given the brood to do so?

Our new package hives will have brood begin to emerge a week from today.

How can I do the balancing act of trying to salvage the first hive by donating emerging brood from the new package without weakening the new? Is there a good rule of thumb? We have two new package hives actually, one is located right next to the first weak one... the other is a few miles away. Could I swap empty combs from failing hive for combs with emerging brood from each of the new packages so that the queen still has that space to lay in?

Or should I just let the chips fall where they may?
 

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>lots of bigger larva but no queen cells were constructed. Is there any circumstance in which a non-queenright hive would NOT build queen cells given the brood to do so?

Both drone laying queens and laying workers leave the bees somewhat confused by some of the pheromones being there, but not all. Sometimes it takes those hives three works to sort things out, but one that has no queen and no laying workers will start queen cells that are quite noticeable in 48 hours. If they don't start queen cells, odds are they are not queenless and there is a virgin queen that isn't laying yet.
 
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