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Discussion Starter #1
So it was warm enough today that I decided to break out the smoker and see how things were going. Lots of bees coming and going, I cracked the hive open, still plenty of stores and the pollen patty I threw in a couple weeks ago looked like it hadn't been touched. I pulled some frames but could not find any brood or eggs so I'm thinking they are queenless.

In the way of background this hive was started from a package of russians last spring and they super-ceded the package queen. They hive was weaker than I would have liked going into the winter (I had another hive that was stronger that didn't make it through).

I found an empty queen cell, I'm hoping this was from last year when they super-ceded the queen but I'm not sure if they would have dismantled it over the summer or not.

Thoughts on what if anything can be done? Is there anywhere I can get a queen from at this point in time? I do have two additional packages of russians coming this spring but they might not be here for another 2-4 weeks.

Bees1.jpg Bees2.jpg Bees3.jpg
 

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I would just leave them alone until the packages come, then check them one more time, if still no sign of a queen then add them to your packages to get them off to a running start.
 

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If you are looking to buy a queen. G and s bees have some avaible now.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just heard that my packages will be in this weekend so I am now planning on combining this hive with the packages, what is going to be the best way to do that? Just dump them all in together or should I plan on combining with newspaper or something like that?
 

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I would hold off on the combine. You're a lot farther north than I am, and I only started seeing eggs and brood a couple weeks ago. It is entirely possible that you have a queen and it simply hasn't been consistently warm long enough for her to start laying yet. Better to wait a while until you are 100% sure than to try a combine because you think its queenless only to be wrong, in which case the fight to the death between the queens could end up killing both of them and then you've just compounded the problem.

My advice is to leave them alone for at least a couple more weeks and check again. Install your packages in whatever hives you were going to to begin with. You can always combine later if it still ends up being necessary, but there's a good chance it won't be.
 

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I would hold off on the combine. You're a lot farther north than I am, and I only started seeing eggs and brood a couple weeks ago. It is entirely possible that you have a queen and it simply hasn't been consistently warm long enough for her to start laying yet. Better to wait a while until you are 100% sure than to try a combine because you think its queenless only to be wrong, in which case the fight to the death between the queens could end up killing both of them and then you've just compounded the problem.

My advice is to leave them alone for at least a couple more weeks and check again. Install your packages in whatever hives you were going to to begin with. You can always combine later if it still ends up being necessary, but there's a good chance it won't be.
I agree completely, I requeened three hives with virgen daughters from the same queen all about the same strength, all developed really good queens, but one was two weeks later than the others to begin laying. I had tried to requeen it with a queen cell, when I went into the hive two days later I found it had been killed in her cell, if I had requeened with a queen, one would have been killed and the survivor could have been injured, that taught me that when in doubt use a queen cell to check it out. Since you may not have a cell to use,I would suggest waiting as Edymnion suggested.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ok so things ended up going a little differently than what I had originally planned, let me give you a timeline of events so what I ended up doing might make a little more sense.

I inspected the hive on 3/29 and did not see any brood which led me to think it could be in trouble. The firs thing I did was talk to the people I got the packages from to see what their thoughts were (and I wanted to check on the status of the packages I had coming for this year). The response there was there wasn't a whole lot I could do and that it didn't sound good. Basically give them a pollen patty and hope for the best, they would not have any queens available for some time. Also I was told that my packages that were scheduled for the following weekend would be delayed 2-4 weeks.

So not wanting to just give up (or maybe leave well enough alone as the case may be lol) I posted this thread and sent emails to a few queen breeders in the south with VSH stock as I have been interested is seeing how they would do. I got a response back from one of them that they have queens available and could get them out quickly within a few days. The price was right, less than I would have paid locally even after shipping, so I said great send me two (I wanted to break the colony into two nucs). Then literally the next day I get an email letting me know that the packages I ordered would be ready the coming weekend as originally scheduled, not delayed as I had been told by the owner's wife. Given this news I contacted the queen breeder to see if I could cancel the order and he said they went out that morning so I decided to go ahead with the split and just let the packages be when they arrive.

Queens arrive in good health so I make the split. Bees are not in a good mood (I've noticed this last time I inspected them as well). Things go rather uneventfully, I end up moving about half of the bees into a 5 frame nuc and leave the rest in the other box split between two 8 frame mediums (a bunch of bees were spread through the box and it was easier to just do it this way).

I went back after a week and found that the queen I put in the nuc has been released and is laying:
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The other queen I put in with the half of the hive left in the old boxes was not accepted and I found her dead with her attendants in the cage. I still saw no eggs or brood (this is two weeks later at this point).

So that brings us to where we are now. So what I am wondering now is do I have a queen in that hive that just isn't laying? Should she be laying at this point (everything I have read would make me think yes). Or did they just not like the queen I gave them. My thought at this point is once I have some to spare I might give them some eggs/brood and see what they do with it. Also I should mention the hive with the laying queen seemed a good bit more docile than the one that is still in question.
 
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