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Discussion Starter #1
I've had this tiny, single-deep, weak hive since last summer (don't recall if it was a small baited swarm that never did anything, or a decent hive that swarmed and the remainder never got going again). Numbers have never gone up much, but -- oddly? -- seem the same as they were last summer. The bees appear to stay around 3 frames on 1 side. I saw what was probably stored sugar syrup in cells -- I've fed them during the winter.

I checked today: I saw no capped brood at all except for maybe 8 lonely drone cells scattered on 1 frame. Didn't see a queen, but didn't really focus on that. I've heard that if there're no massive capped brood this time of year, there's no queen or she's a dud.

That said, I'm wondering: could the workers be laying and that could account for the drone cells? I don't recall seeing any big # of drones among the workers.

I'd like to experiment with adding a fresh, mated queen to see if she can crank up the hive. A decent idea? If the population is of laying workers, wouldn't adding a queen be futile and a waste of $? Would laying workers kill a new queen, or merely fail to care for her offspring (and have them die off)? :s

Much obliged for any theories/directives/anecdotes on this ......

Mitch
 

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I'm quite a bit north of you and I have a lot of capped brood already. Sounds like you have a laying worker hive or the few drones are what's left to emerge. Are there any larva at all? Never experienced a laying worker situation but I think adding a new queen may be risky. I'm sure other members will chime in on that.

Jon
 

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Personally I wouldn't mess with it.
I'd shake them out and be done with them.

However, if you want to play around and see what they do, try adding a frame of open brood (with eggs) and bees making sure you don't have the queen on that frame.
They might start a queen cell or 2.
She likely won't be a great queen, but hey, the hive is a goner anyway.
If they are laying workers it usually takes about 3 frames of open brood to get them to stop laying. One frame a week.
Sometimes you can have a queen who is a dud, not laying. Then the bees won't start queen cells.
If that's the case requeen with a nuc.
Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm quite a bit north of you and I have a lot of capped brood already. Sounds like you have a laying worker hive or the few drones are what's left to emerge. Are there any larva at all? Never experienced a laying worker situation but I think adding a new queen may be risky. I'm sure other members will chime in on that.

Jon
Hi -- I didn't see any larvae at all -- just shimmering liquid in cells on the several frames that have comb.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Mitch, I used to try my hand at saving weak or laying worker hives. Now I do not bother. Too much time and energy for a very uncertain outcome. The three frames of brood necessary to bring this around, if it works, is the same as you would need to start a strong healthy split with a much more certain outcome. I had one nuc that I kept feeding brood to all summer. They never made a queen. I even tried qc's and virgins. Once I finally stopped giving them bees, it took till fall to die out. I could have made several nucs with the resources I wasted.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Mitch, I used to try my hand at saving weak or laying worker hives. Now I do not bother. Too much time and energy for a very uncertain outcome. The three frames of brood necessary to bring this around, if it works, is the same as you would need to start a strong healthy split with a much more certain outcome. I had one nuc that I kept feeding brood to all summer. They never made a queen. I even tried qc's and virgins. Once I finally stopped giving them bees, it took till fall to die out. I could have made several nucs with the resources I wasted.
Howdy, JW; I'm thinking you have it right. I'm needing to conserve $, so ... don't want to buy a queen if the outcome's not fairly clear. I'm wondering: should I add the bees to one of my 2 splits (newspaper method)? Or -- as Arnie wrote -- shake 'em out and wish 'em a fond adieu? Maybe some would then ask the other hives for entry ....

itch
 

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I'm still a newbie in my 4th season but one of the many lessons I've learned is to not waste time , money and resources on colonies like you describe. I would shake the bees out and give the drawn frames to the other hives.
 

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A few worker bees have very little value especially if they are already, in bee terms, getting senior. If they are possibly harboring some disease or pest that is another strike against appraising whether they have potential promise or risk potential.

In the early stages of undiagnosed EFB I combined some weak colonies with stronger ones: bad, bad, move! In the future this experience may cause me to discard bees that might have had something left to contribute but I will not ever be quick to combine weak hives unless I know fully the cause of it.

The old, old, expression, penny wise and pound foolish, sums it up very well.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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If I were sure that there was not an underlying cause for the hive to have gone queenless, like EFB as Frank mentioned, shake em out and use the comb for a walkaway split. It is funny how, as we gain more experience, our attitude changes towards the colonies.
 

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My son has a float of around 40 colonies; 28 at the moment. His time is the scarcest commodity for him, so they dont get much individual treatment. I spend far more time with around 8 colonies but I have time to kill so I monkey around with things he would not. He is handy at grafting and getting queens mated into divided deeps so he makes up any winter losses quite easily. He commonly does not do much inspecting for pre swarm conditions etc. If he catches the occasional swarm OK, if not, no calamity. You just have to learn what parts of the show to put your time on and what things would be relatively a waste of time.

A whole different game from someone with only a few colonies or someone who is actively trying to do some selective breeding. My son does not have names or numbers for his queens and he does not call the bees "girls"! Bugs is about as much affection as they get.:rolleyes:
 
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