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I visited my hive the other day and the girls were bringing in pollen by the sac full. Pollen.com says the major players here in south central Wisconsin are maple, box elder, and juniper. Caught this photo with my iPhone and was more than pleased with what it captured.

The following hive inspection of both hives left me with several questions.

1. The hive in the background had bees coming and going, but every bee was pollen-less. Is it true that bees won't forage for pollen if they do not have a queen/brood?

2. When I opened that hive, I was unable to locate any eggs or larva. Recent (last 10-14 days) high temperatures have reached the mid-50s to mid-60s with night time lows of thirties and fourties. Would you conclude that I am queen-less after this harsh winter or could she possibly still be waiting to get going? This hive was strong and healthy going into winter.

3. If you believe this hive is queen less, would you recommend stealing a frame of eggs and a frame of capped brood from my strong hive to place in the weak hive? I did not locate any drones or drone brood in my strong hive. My concern is they would raise a new queen and she would emerge but unable to mate due to lack/absence of drones. With late April just around the corner, bees from California will be making their way to Wisconsin. Would you recommend I just wait and purchase a mated queen?

Thanks for any suggestions or insights on my situation. Happy beekeeping!
 

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If your strong hive can spare it, it won't hurt to add brood. It can buy you some time, and if they start queen cells, you at least know you're queenless. Then you can either let them try to make a queen, buy a queen, or combine and split later. Good luck! :)
 

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Yes, that is a remarkble picture with great focus and depth of field!

Plus, I've got major pollen envy. My bees can't seem to find any so far (though they are out looking, every day.) And I've got all those plants here, but they are still deep in the coils of winter even though we are technically in the same hardiness zone (I creeped your zip code, on the hardiness maps!) Apparently you are close enough to the Lake to make a growing season difference, whereas I am landlocked in frigid, upstate NY.

I'm too green (not with envy, but with newbie-ness) to offer any useful suggestions about your queen issue. Sorry, but I wish you good luck with it!

Enj.
 

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>1. The hive in the background had bees coming and going, but every bee was pollen-less. Is it true that bees won't forage for pollen if they do not have a queen/brood?

Not true, but brood pheromones are a trigger for them to gather pollen. I have seen queenless, laying worker hives hauling pollen like there was no tomorrow and plugging the entire brood nest with it.

> 2. When I opened that hive, I was unable to locate any eggs or larva. Recent (last 10-14 days) high temperatures have reached the mid-50s to mid-60s with night time lows of thirties and fourties. Would you conclude that I am queen-less after this harsh winter or could she possibly still be waiting to get going? This hive was strong and healthy going into winter.

They are probably just stocking up right now, but pollen coming in tends to set off brood rearing.

> 3. If you believe this hive is queen less, would you recommend stealing a frame of eggs and a frame of capped brood from my strong hive to place in the weak hive?

When in doubt, always. A frame of eggs is not much of an investment by the donor hive as they cannot rear nearly as much brood as the queen can lay...

>I did not locate any drones or drone brood in my strong hive. My concern is they would raise a new queen and she would emerge but unable to mate due to lack/absence of drones. With late April just around the corner, bees from California will be making their way to Wisconsin. Would you recommend I just wait and purchase a mated queen?

What do you have to lose? You give them some eggs, they don't raise a queen because they have a queen and you've answered an important question. You give them some eggs and they do raise a queen and she doesn't find drones to mate with and ends up a drone layer. You can remove her and introduce a queen. You give them some eggs and they do raise a queen and she finds some drones to mate with and you have a queen. All of these are workable situations.
 

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The hive in the picture that is brining in pollen has brood and eggs?

MB Is there a good chance that a hive not bringing in pollen when other are is queenless/broodless?
 

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>MB Is there a good chance that a hive not bringing in pollen when other are is queenless/broodless?

They can't raise brood WITHOUT pollen, so I would take a look and see. Some package queens take two weeks to start laying. Some start the day they get out...
 
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