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Howdy!
My hive is approximately one month old. Queen was doing great. Great brood pattern, etc! My last inspection revealed a couple frames of capped brood, and multiple eggs. I even saw the queen, and she was laying just as fast as the workers were building comb. I replaced the bottom board with a screened bottom board since the nights are getting warmer here. That was five days ago from today. Upon today's inspection I knew something was up. I opened the top and there were a bunch of bees around the feeder. I noticed that the bees seemed very agitated and not in order. Upon further inspection I noticed many bees in the frames. The once capped brood was empty now, indicating that many bees have hatched. I noticed right away a queen cell. Oh the horror! I thought, well they must be cramped! So I dug and dug looking for the queen. I could not find her. 5 queen cells on multiple frames. I could not find the queen anywhere. Some larvae not capped yet. I could not find any eggs. Four frames are still empty, some have very little comb facing the center of the hive. I have many questions. Should I have moved the empty frames towards the center so they would've been filled? Should I have added the second hive body sooner? Do you think the hive swarmed and the queen left me? By the way, none of the queen cells are capped yet. Where do I go from here?
Thank you so much everybody! I'm glad I have this great resource!
 

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Every time you inspect a hive, there is a non-zero chance you will kill the queen. Much of the problem new beekeepers create is from clumsy over-inspection.

My recommendation is close the hive up, and do nothing for T+24 days from the killing event associated with the 5 day past inspection --- that means 19 days from today.

The hive may cast a swarm as well as emergency requeen, so put out some wine boxes with a bit of comb and a small entrance. Drink the wine first.
 

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It sounds as though something may have happened to the queen - possibly during the bottom board swap? With 4 frames empty, it seems unlikely they swarmed, and they don't need an additional box with 4 empty frames.

I'd leave the queen cells alone, and wait.


I also suggest you think twice about that screened bottom board. If you have a closure board, put it in. Consider seeing how you can modify the screened bottom board to be an 'oil tray' style if want to keep the screened bottom in the long run.

Also, figure out how you can get a second hive. Perhaps not immediately, but try to set aside some funds to do so. There are quite a few problems that can be addressed by borrowing resources from a second hive. If you only have one hive, options are few.
 

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Just out of curiosity, where was this queen from? Just wondering because my little group has been having horrid luck with "store-bought" queens obtained this spring. Of eight bought from one area, 7 have already failed. There's also a thread running earlier this week about high queen failure rates where the queen was exposed to temperature extremes during shipment.

We're letting one of the failed queen hives raise their own, on the possibility that the original queen was chilled in shipment back in April.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello!
The queen was purchased from Pigeon Mountain Apiaries in Georgia. I hope I didn't kill the queen, that's a good possibility. So is it being suggested that I remove the second hive body, or should I just leave it alone now?
 

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Hello!
The queen was purchased from Pigeon Mountain Apiaries in Georgia. I hope I didn't kill the queen, that's a good possibility. So is it being suggested that I remove the second hive body, or should I just leave it alone now?
Our problem was with Northern California queens.

Rader and I usually see eye to eye. Not sure the objection to the screened bottom board unless it is the excess ventilation leading to a chilled hive. We use Freeman traps (the oil tray bottom boards) on our hives, and they are essentially screened bottom boards. For a while this spring we blocked the vents on them so the bees would not become chilled when we added a brood box. An IPM board sprayed with veggie oil works similarly on pests, and blocks most of the draft.

I think the experts will say there's more to consider when deciding about the second hive body. If you have plenty of bees to fill them, likely that's not necessary. If the bees are occupying both boxes, they have their reasons, and yanking part of their home may just confuse the issue. Personally, if JWC suggested I button things up and let 'em raise a queen, I'd say that sounds reasonable. The only reason I can think of to go against that would be if you have a friend offer you a fresh queen whose momma is a real producer.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go pick up the nuc a real good friend built for me, with a fresh queen whose momma is a real producer. :)
 

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I have screened bottom boards - but they all are closed off by oil trays. The tray access slot could be left open to allow ventilation if the tray was removed, but I haven't done that. I see no benefit to an open screened bottom.

Bees want to maintain their brood nest temperature at 93-94 degrees F. When the outside temperature is higher than that they haul water to cool the brood area via evaporation (sort of like a swamp cooler in a house). If there is a constant flow of hot air (higher than 94 degrees) through the SBB, that open SBB is working against the bees efforts.


There are plenty of reports on Beesource of new packages absconding from hives with open SBB, and other reports that the lower part of brood frames close to the bottom often don't get utilized- perhaps there is too much light coming in.
 

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Phoebee,
The Carlson hive is already 3-4 days into raising a supersedure queen. There is no point in buying a queen at this point, unless it is assumed that resources to raise a thrifty queen are not present (unlikely as they are booming on worker brood). If you would want to requeen you would have to cut out all the supersedure cells, or risk the hive casting a swarm (the introduced queen will not kill the already in place QC). The queen take up would require a couple of days for delivery, 3 days for introduction, and she might not lay for a couple of days. So no queen until day 11-12 of the natural supersedure period. Hardly any advantage over the natural period.

Some percentage of virgins will not return mated due to the vagaries of chance, so Carlson might still lose the hive.

Your group that lost No Cal queens sounds like they are green (with a mentor), and the alternative hypothesis is that the green keepers rolled the queens or otherwise damaged them in their desire to make "thorough" inspections.

I just went through a local event where a couple of enthusiastic newbees picked up queens the same day, from the same breeder that I did. Their requeened splits had high failure, and mine had none. Experience counts heavily when working with the little insects.

There is a unlimited quantity of "internet wisdom" these days. I recently bit my tongue as I visited a new keeper that was going through a swarm ready hive while her partner was watching a "you tube" tutorial on the process on her phone, calling out step-by-step instructions. This is both wonderful and horrible. Say the instruction to puff a bit of smoke under the cover as you pry up a corner..... the experienced beek knows intuitively from the particular hive, how much smoke, how many "beats" to let the smoke settle, if you can strip the cover off quickly, or if you should shake it hard to dislodge bees before tilting it back. All this imbrication and decision branching. The queen must cross the bars on top, sides, through passages or under to move to the next frame. The experienced beek can judge from the condition of the hive how likely it is the queen is moving across the top bars (and knowing that the smoke makes the queen get up and go). Its really difficult to encapsulate and teach the keepers rhythm, and the internet step-by-step slows learning down by alienating the student from the direct experience.
 

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the screened bottom board seems to be getting mixed reviews, maybe not the greatest plan in the north?? newer keepers tend too inspect a bit to much but, heh they are your bees not mine. there are problems with mass produced queens from the south sometimes, [I installed one in a problem hive today myself]. sometimes stuff does not go according to plan. welcome to beekeeping. practice helps but it does not make things perfect.
 

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Let's not run this SBB thing in the ditch. The op's question was about queenlessness.

To him I say relax! Your bees are likely following their instincts and their instincts serve them well (most of the time.) It is possible that you damaged the queen, but the answer is the same as far as corrective action is concerned. This sounds like classic 1st year colony supersedure to me. They just terminated the old queen a little earlier than most. Some will terminate old momma when they start the supersedure cells, and some will let her lay for the developement time of the replacement.

Your queen cells suggest supersedure (SS) - a few cells of roughly the same age. Swarm cells are more plentiful and wider age scatter.

First year colonies often SS when they reach a broodnest size they consider adequate for the size of the cavity, if they havn't done so earlier. In a single Lang deep, that is somewhat short of filling that first box. About the time we add the second box. And we don't see the SS happen because we are monitoring growth into the second box.

Relax and watch it happen. When it is time for the new queen to be mating, stay out of their way in the early afternoon.

Walt
 

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JWC,

I'd suspect rolling queens myself, but we started getting spotty brood and supercedure cells while we could still spot the queen alive and well. We've got local queens that are not having this problem ... the high failure rate is among queens shipped from California this spring. In the case of our two nucs, the queens were introduced on April 24. The nucs were built by a former state bee inspector so I presume he knew his stuff, but we were still having cold enough weather to produce that dead sperm problem.

The name on the report in that other discussion, if I'm recognizing it right, is the guy who runs the Beltsville Bee Lab.

If cold or heat extremes during shipping were the problem, the replacement queens could be OK. We're letting our hive with the supercedure cells raise their own. But if that effort fails, I wonder if there there will be enough young bees to make a go of it with a new queen? Requeening of course means eliminating any existing queens or queen cells, which is a not-trivial matter, but might be tempting in order to introduce a locally-bred queen from a source that has desirable traits. In our case, we're getting a new nuc with a VSH queen who's mom produces brood like crazy, PLUS attempting to get the original hive back queenright.

As for new beeks needing to learn, well, of course. Poor bees, having to put up with us dolts. My wife and I have made mistakes. But here we are on the internet, and here you are on the internet. And we took a pretty decent bee class in January and February. And we've been attending every open hive day we can, and reading a stack of books and research papers, and we've got a mentor. So all told I don't know how much more one can do but keep at it for 30 years and hope we don't kill too many bees in the process.
 

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If they ran out of room for the queen to lay I would bet that they cast a swarm. Several of my first year nucs have swarmed this year before I could get them into a 5X5 double nuc setup. Sometimes there is nothing that you can do if you don't have enough frames with full wax coverage for the queen to expand brood production.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you everyone for the overwhelming input. I appreciate it very much and it's great to hear so many different opinions. I have an opportunity to obtain a VSH queen semi-locally to my house. It's about six hours away so she would have to be shipped. She would arrive on Tuesday of next week. Should I take this opportunity to requeen with a "local" queen that has come from a queen who has a good history? The concern I have is that the bees might not make it through winter especially since they are from Georgia. I know they've fallen behind a bit now, so would a queen such as the one described give them a leg up?
 

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Just out of curiosity, where was this queen from? Just wondering because my little group has been having horrid luck with "store-bought" queens obtained this spring. Of eight bought from one area, 7 have already failed. There's also a thread running earlier this week about high queen failure rates where the queen was exposed to temperature extremes during shipment.

We're letting one of the failed queen hives raise their own, on the possibility that the original queen was chilled in shipment back in April.
Can you email me off line about more details here. WHich small little group? From WV? And where were the queens from? karla (PWRBeekeepers....)
 
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