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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This has been the first season for my little hive in Miamiville, OH and I feel like I'm currently at a crossroads, whether to try to save the hive I have, or let it descend, after a long spiral, into nothing and start again. Here's the story:

I got my package of bees at the end of April this year from the Walter B. Kelley company and hived them the same day. Like a nervous new parent, I hovered around, watching and listening, but was able to resist opening their hive for the reccommended week and when I did, I found some eggs, pulled out the queen cage, and everything was as expected. I waited another week and checked again, at which time I couldn't find the queen, any eggs or any evidence that a queen had recently been in residence. I called some new beekeeping friends of mine and was referred to a master of beekeeping, who came out that day, looked at my hive and agreed that I was indeed queenless, but did have some laying workers. He kindly arranged for me to buy a new queen, then hived it for me and I waited another tortuous week to check them. At that check (now mid-May) I found plenty of eggs and was very pleased with my new lady. It was at this point that my hive was inspected by the Clermont County Bee Inspector who proclaimed it good, but small and advised that I would probably need to feed during the winter for them to survive.

All progressed as I imagined it should for several weeks, when I started to notice superseder cells. Though worried, I decided to leave them in case my new queen was gone. I was advised to let the bees have their way and create their own queen who would hopefully be more to their liking than either of the introduced queens apparantly had been. I checked every ten days or so until the queen cells were gone (presumably hatched) and waited to see eggs. When another week passed after the superseders hatching, I got worried again and spoke to a beekeeper that sells honey at the farmer's market I frequent and he suggested I give the new queen more time as she may not have made her nuptial flight yet. Lo and behold, when I checked the week after, there were eggs, larvae, and even some capped brood. The next time I checked (this was last week) I noticed what seemed like an overabundance of drones and even saw three of the bees hatching from their capped cells and they were all drones. Hmmmm.

Then today, I was (in Sue Hubbell's lovely Book of Bees) about how laying workers produce sterile eggs that hatch into drones, which are, of course, worse than useless to my present hive. I'm positive that this is what I have. I'm thinking now that I should either just let them perish as it's been a month since I had a proper laying queen and I'm afraid that even if I order a new queen now, the workers I had would die before they could raise a new brood.

I've read that you can try buying a nuc and putting it where your existing hive is, you can still sort of incorporate the existing bees as they return to the new nuc hive thinking it's their old one. What do you think?

Thanks so much for putting up with my novice beekeeping troubles. Even though I'm having sort of a terrible time of my freshman year, I somehow feel like the best solution would be to start another hive or two! I guess beekeeping is one of those things where one is never enough!

beegirl
 

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That is really bad luck. Maybe you've gotten your quota over with at the beginning and it will be smoother from now on.

People over winter nucs all the time, but it's less than ideal, and going into winter with only one nuc might be setting yourself up for another disappointment. On the other hand making a deal right now with a local producer to buy an over wintered nuc (or 2 would be better) early next spring might be a good idea. Then you could be like a kid counting the days until Christmas in April.

I don't know about where you are, but last year I did a trap out that was smaller than a package and didn't have a laying queen until Sept 1st, and they made it through the winter - but I had comb to give them. My bees aren't drawing much comb right now, and probably won't because they are busy trying to build up numbers and resources.

But to answer your question - If you put another hive of any kind in the same spot and move the one you have most or all of the foragers will return to the old location - the new hive.

I know you would hate to abandon the one hive you have.
 

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Bad luck yes...
the master beekeeper must have been a master in theory not actual

1. as a newbie we all make mistakes on how to inspect our first hive. Now I am not saying this is what happened but it could have. Accidental rolling and killing of your queen when replacing or removing your frames. Use your hive to pull the frames away or slide your frame in place. Always remove your end frame or your second frame (carefuly) frome the edge. Protect that queen at all costs
2. If you note a laying worker, never never never introduce a queen. They will kill your newly introduced queen. You need to remove the hive about 30 feet,prefer 50+ but, shake out the bees and then replace your hive. Let them settle and then add your new queen. The thought behind this is, the laying workers will not be able to fly. Supercedures with laying worker is ok, because it calms them down.

3. Your supercedure cells, were they nice like peanuts or were they larger than drone cells. Were they on the face or on the bottom. If larger than drone, those queens IMO will not last long. They are not from the best eggs. Those cells are like last minute...we lost our queen, use the best eggs we can find. A good supercedure cell looks like a long peanut.

4. A newly hatched queen will kill all other queen cells. If they do not,when the next one hatches, a fight till one dies will ensue. It takes almost three weeks for the queen to mate and lay eggs

5. the drones you are seeing hatch now are probably from you laying works. Give it time to see if your new queen will have capped larva.

6. If youhave a laying worker or a drone laying queen, you do not have the time to get this hive ready for winter. The eggs layed for the last two weeks and anything else layed before she shuts down are your winter survival bees.

If you used wax foundation, the drone cells will ruin the frames. they will never be workercells again. If it is a drone layer or laying worker, remove the bees and start again next year.
If you used plastic foundation, you can scrape the frames and start again next year

'luck
 

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. . .

Then today, I was (in Sue Hubbell's lovely Book of Bees) about how laying workers produce sterile eggs that hatch into drones, . . .
I want to ensure you haven't become confused about sterile vs unfertilized eggs.

Though sterile eggs (eggs that will never hatch), can be produced by queens or workers, under some circumstances. Eggs that are laid by laying workers are generally "unfertilized", since workers are incapable of mating, and unfertilized eggs are haploid and can only produce drones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the advice from veteran beekeepers! I guess I'll keep an eye on them, but I don't think they'll make it through the winter. We've just never had enough time with a proper queen to build up enough of a population, let alone store enough honey, to survive. And now I'm only getting drones, so they're just draining away what little my bees have managed to scrape together. Should I kill some? I hate the idea of killing bees, but they're definitely not useful at this point.

I plan to start at least 2, maybe 3, hives in the spring. If I had a successful colony, my understanding is that I could take a few frames of brood from that hive and give it to my struggling hive, although with laying workers I would have to move the old hive and shake out all the bees.

Has anyone ever started hives from nucs in the fall? I'm sure there's more risk, but it seems like you should be able to get a bargain on an established hive.

Thanks again!

beegirl
 

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Shaking them out isn't the only way to deal with laying worker. If you have other hives you can give a LW hive a frame of open brood every week and the brood pheromones will make the LW stop laying and they will raise a new queen from the brood.

This is not from LW experience, although whenever in any doubt as to the queen-rightness of a hive I give it a frame of brood as insurance. It can't hurt anything, and it is generally beneficial.
 

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I'm thinking that you are just being impatient with your new queen. She took a few days to get used to the new home and start laying. When the workers emerge from the cells it will be a few more days b4 you'll see them outside the hive. I usually don't even check a 'new' queen's brood for 2 to 3 weeks.
 

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beegirl...queenless hives replaced by multiple laying workers is very problematic. Introducing a new mated queen is very tricky. I would ordinarily advise to try to save this colony if it were May or June, however, your chances of building this colony back up late in the season (provided you were successful in introducing a new queen) are very slim at best. The 'shake out" method described by some also has little chance of success..the theory of the laying workers somehow not being able to find their way back to the original hive location contains little merit. They can and will find their way back..(research has been accomplished to prove that marked laying workers bees would indeed return). I will tell you what one experienced beekeeper told me..shake the bees out near another hive and let them drift to another hive if you have one. The extra foragers for a few weeks will at least extend their existence a few more weeks. Next year order a minimum of 2-3 packages, which will alllow you other means of rectifying situations such as this should they reoccur. Good luck..JG New Mexico
 
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