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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all and thanks in advance...

I am mentoring a student beekeeper, but she has come across a problem that I need assistance solving.

She has a hive that was started from a nuc this year, she waited too long to put a second brood box on, they got crowded and swarmed the 1st of June. I visited her and her hive on June 22nd. The bees had not touched the second brood box, there were less bees than I expected to see, yet very calm. On the second to last frame I found a queen. However, I very carefully looked at each and every frame and found no new eggs, no larva. There was plenty of space for her to lay. So I told my student to check them in a week and she should she plenty of brood hopefully.

Well, she checked them yesterday and could not find any evidence of brood or the queen, though the hive is still displaying "queen right" behavior like calmness, and stringing across the frames.

Her sister's hive seems to be in a similar predicament.

So... what should I advise her to do? Purchase a mated queen to replace the young one that is not currently laying? Give her a frame from one of my hives to let them produce another queen? I hesitate to do that with the small number of bees currently in the hive and then waiting another 3-4 weeks to see brood.
Or is there something else I am missing?

Again, thanks in advance!
 

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I am a new beek myself so take my comments as such! I had a split that had a hard time getting a mated queen due to all our rain. Finally, I saw a new queen on 6/16 but it took until 6/24 before I saw any eggs. The eggs I saw were brand new and not a lot of them so I am pretty sure she just started laying that day. Based on what I experienced, I would give it a few more days to see if she starts laying. I checked them again 6/28 and there was a lot of good queen activity with eggs and open brood.
 

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I use the following calendar for keeping track of my breeding. I calibrated this to assume they were almost capped when the hive swarmed. http://www.thebeeyard.org/cgi-bin/queencalendar.pl?month=5&day=29&year=2015

Don't know if her hive had capped or close to capped cells when they flew but....Best guess is you/she is at or very close to eggs but many beeks, new and old, have a hard time seeing eggs at first. As you point out the calm demeanor points to success. Another external observation factor that has served me well is to watch incoming bees for a noticeable increase in pollen. Non laying gueen hives usually bring very little pollen, once the queen kicks in they need protein to raise brood. If possible you might have her watch the landing board for an hour and see what's happening. Caveat, once the go laying worker this tell is no good as they too will haul pollen but that should not be an issue yet. You can't go wrong with a frame of eggs but I'd probably wait a few more days and take another look first.
 

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You can usually figure you have a capped queen cell when they swarmed. It will emerge eight days later. Get mated about two weeks after that (most likely) so that's 22 days. It could be as long as one more week (that's 29 days) After that if you don't have eggs the queen didn't make it back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I was finally able to work with their schedule and checked this hive...something happened to the queen, she was no where to be seen :s

Opened hive to find laying worker brood :'( 6 out of 10 frames were full of crazy egg laying, and capped drone cells.

Is it beyond repair? Can we buy a mated queen and put her in the colony or should she just combine the bees from the colony to another?

Very disappointed...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I think this hive is a lost cause...not enough bees to try to salvage. Again, super disappointing. But at least this student had learned (albeit, the hard way) the importance of thoroughly inspecting the hive every 7-14 days. :(
 
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