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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I set up a queen nuc (5 deep frames) as a starter hive, just as I did last year. I grafted last year successfully and got a few really nice queens out of it, so I have had some success at it before. This year, I put in a bunch of grafts and ... nothing. I checked after about 30 hours. I put in a second batch of grafts - again, nothing. So, I decided to get some queens without grafting and put in a frame with some open brood and eggs. Still - nothing! They aren't starting any queen cells.

So I thought, there must be a queen in there. I looked and looked for one. I can usually find the queens in my hives pretty quickly. I couldn't find a queen, and I'm doubly certain that there is no queen in there because all my other queens are accounted for.

Have you ever had a starter hive that just refused to raise a queen? What am I missing?
 

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Nearly always there is a queen, mated or otherwise. Put it out as a nuc and make a new starter you'll probably have better luck.
 

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Yup, I agree with Oldtimer, I bet there is a queen in there, maybe even an African queen that usurped into the hive. Could be a virgin, could be mated...........might have been hiding on a frame, might have been hiding in the box. I had one swarm hive last year that I found the queen ONCE and that was after I hived the swarm, meanest son of a guns around and when I tried finding her again to pinch her, she played ninja on me!! Thank God it died out over winter.

If you put a frame of eggs in with it and they didn't start anything..........there has to be a queen in there!! Unless, maybe, you have a laying worker/workers in the nuc. Then its doomed.
 

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A young queen can give you the runaround and be nearly imposable to find, as oldtimer already stated set them aside and put together another starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I agree this certainly sounds like a queen must be in there. For that to be the case, that means that a wild queen wandering around out there would have had to have found my starter within hours of me setting it up-which seems higly unlikely. Unless I had 2 queens in one of the hives that I shook bees from, which I suppose is possible. But, I have checked the hives that I shook from several times over the last few weeks and have never seen a queen cell.

Any other possibilities?

Anyhow, I will do another thorough search for a queen in my starter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, after several days of the starter showing zero interest of raising queen, there are now 4 capped queen cells in the hive. So I know for sure now that there is no queen in the hive, as I thought. I put grafts in the hive and a frame with some eggs and brood and for at least 3 days they completely ignored all of this and wouldn't raise a queen.

I grafted some more and put these in a different queenless hive and they started a couple of queen cells, so I know that my grafts are accepted sometime.

The queen cells that are in the starter hive now seem quite small - much shorter than the queen cells from the grafts. Does this mean anything? Any ideas on why this starter hive would not start raising a queen for several days? Are there times when they are just not in the mood?
 

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I'm not sure about the mood part, I have had them clean the larva out of the cups during a dearth, even though they were queenless for 4+ days. Good to hear that you got some cells started though!

I just put my cells into nucs tonight, so im keeping my fingers crossed! Each nuc already had a few queen cells that they built already, I crushed some of them and then decided to leave them and just placed a graft in each nuc anyhow, nothing like insurance that atleast a queen will hatch one way or another!

The bad news is its suppose to rain next week, about the time they are suppose to take their mating flights.........argggggg!

I'll check back with the nucs in about a week and see if they atleast hatched. Since i am always learning by trial and error i learned that i should put a foundationless frame in the starter hive to give them something to build on because they built a ton of burr comb between cells and on cells, made it a pain in the butt to clean the cells up carefully!!
 
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