Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 19 of 19 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My question is about otherwise thriving, broodless hives. But first my day, for context, ostensibly (but really because it's interesting -- at least to me). The day started with me and my buddy cutting down a 60' hardwood tree with bees in it for some loggers. No honey, some brood, not many bees; found the queen, caged her, put the brood in frames, and left her and the brood in a nuc by the stump. We then checked out a nearby, ongoing second story trapout in an antebellum house. We had already gotten the queen in the trapout a few days ago, but we left in the trapout box some brood that she had already laid, including a capped queen cell. We sealed up a new opening in the house and went to check and, hopefully, super the hives at a bee yard on the way back to town. The hives did not need supering -- the spring honey flow has been seriously delayed in our area, at least for us, due, I think, to cool weather. We found our first broodless hive of the day there, a medium nuc of bees that we had caught in a swarm box some time in the last few weeks. We then go to a small bee yard and find that 2 out of the 3 hives have no brood -- Lots of bees, a fair amount of honey, but no brood and we don't see a queen.
We then went to another location where 1 out of the 2 hives has lots of bees, some honey and, again, no brood. While there, we got a call from a nice Englishman equestrian with a colony in the first floor ceiling of a townhouse he's having gutted near his stables and paddocks 20 miles away. We go to the townhouse/paddocks cutout, size it up, go get our bee vac, come back (stopping on the way back to plug a weep hole in another ongoing trapout), cut out the bees and vac. There's 5 gallons of honey (very unusual right now where we are), 30,000 or so bees and no brood. No brood (repeated for emphasis), and apparently no queen. We didn't spot the queen (which is actually unusual for my buddy, but not for me), and the bees don't react to the box from the vac as though we have vacuumed a queen. We clean out all the comb, take the bees, leaving a nuc with some LGO in it for stragglers. Then we go by my house to hopefully get a couple of small queenright nucs to combine with the broodless hives. But we find 3 more broodless hives -- this was actually not too surprising here because these particularly nucs were from small, marginal cutouts, splits, or swarms and were among some hives to be requeened or watched to see what their queen situation was. We did a newspaper combine there and took one small, queenright hive to combine with one of the otherwise thriving, queenless hives from another yard. Then we went back to the tree we had cut down this morning to pick up the nuc with the caged queen. On the way back, we stopped at one of the small beeyards to pick up another queenright nuc and drop off the bees from the townhouse cutout-- actually did a newspaper combine with them because there had been no brood (but 30,000 bees and 5 gallons of honey). Then we went to another small beeyard to do the 2 newspaper combines and to drop off the queenright nuc of bees from the tree we had cut down this morning. I'm beat. Is there something about this time of year that can cause there to be a high number otherwise seemingly thriving queenwrong colonies with lots of bees and honey? Cheers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,861 Posts
Looks like a very busy day for you and your buddy.
The queen wrong hives are destined to be doomed but you came by to rescue them.
How can you remember them all must have a good memory. I'll need to take some notes
to track them all. Not want to end up putting the wrong queen into the wrong hive to make them
further queen wrong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
I'm a good bit south of you, but it's been very dry this spring. Perhaps the queens have sensed a dearth and slowed or shut down in some cases? Just speculation of course, but I still find it odd for the time of year we should be having our main flow.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
I have three bee yards and one of the small ones has the same problem. I had three hives there and two of them were packing in the honey and were very populous, but no brood at all and no queen seen. There were a couple of empty swarm cells, so my guess is that the old laying queen left a virgin behind that is not laying yet. I found a couple of frames in one of the hives that had more swarm cells, so I moved part of the cells to the other seemingly queenless hive and figured that if there is a virgin in there, they can fight it out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I'm a good bit south of you, but it's been very dry this spring. Perhaps the queens have sensed a dearth and slowed or shut down in some cases? Just speculation of course, but I still find it odd for the time of year we should be having our main flow.
Thank you, CajunBee. Has anyone noticed this happening this year (queen shut down) or had this happen this time of year in prior years?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I have three bee yards and one of the small ones has the same problem. I had three hives there and two of them were packing in the honey and were very populous, but no brood at all and no queen seen. There were a couple of empty swarm cells, so my guess is that the old laying queen left a virgin behind that is not laying yet. I found a couple of frames in one of the hives that had more swarm cells, so I moved part of the cells to the other seemingly queenless hive and figured that if there is a virgin in there, they can fight it out.
Thank you, RLB. Shouldn't we be seeing capped brood from before the queens swarmed?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
383 Posts
Hello Neighbors

Seems sort of slow down here in South Louisiana also, however; I'm new and only have a couple of hives about 6-7 weeks old so take my input with a grain of salt:}

My bee's seem to be simply hanging around on the landing board sometimes going in to look around; seems like they are waiting for a card game or something to start lol

Hummm should I bee feeding again?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Hello Neighbors

Seems sort of slow down here in South Louisiana also, however; I'm new and only have a couple of hives about 6-7 weeks old so take my input with a grain of salt:}

My bee's seem to be simply hanging around on the landing board sometimes going in to look around; seems like they are waiting for a card game or something to start lol

Hummm should I bee feeding again?
Welcome. Take everything that that any of us says with a grain of salt. Thank you for the information. I personally would not feed relatively new hives around here now, but some would. Hope it goes well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,861 Posts
Definitely feed when the hive not has enough resources to feed the new bees otherwise the queen
will shut down her laying. Also plant some forages for them to keep things going until the Fall when
things are blooming again. Everything, anything will help during a dearth.
My plant list so far out there now are sunflowers, borage (year round blooming for nectar and pollen),
****** (almost blooming), turnip greens (not sure when will bloom maybe in the Fall.) More will be added
later in a month or 2 is the canola.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
Thank you, RLB. Shouldn't we be seeing capped brood from before the queens swarmed?
The swarm may leave the original hive several days before the new queen emerges, plus it is believed that the workers stop feeding the old laying queen and she stops laying several days before the anticipated swarm date so she will be lighter and able to fly easier. At least that's what I've read. So I guess that process could cover more than three weeks which would give all eggs opportunity to be hatched, be fed and then capped, and emerge by the time I discovered the lack of brood. In any event, there must have been a queen in there during spring build up because those hives have oodles of workers. I will look again next week and hope there's a virgin queen there or one that just started laying.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,208 Posts
I have a swarm that has been hived for a week. No eggs or brood but they have drawn and filled 10 frames of nectar. Any hope of a virgin starting to lay after this long? They seemed very happy to stay with the hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
I have a swarm that has been hived for a week. No eggs or brood but they have drawn and filled 10 frames of nectar. Any hope of a virgin starting to lay after this long? They seemed very happy to stay with the hive.
Have you seen the queen in the hive? A virgin queen is very flighty, so if you have opened the hive soon after hiving them, she might have flown out of the hive. If you know she's in there, I'd give her another week or so and then put a frame of eggs and newly hatched larvae in the hive and see if they supercede her with a new one made from the fresh larvae, unless you can pull a couple of capped queen cells already formed in another hive. You still have plenty of time to build up the hive this summer.

She might be an old queen that can't get started laying again or she might have come from a stressed colony and just quit laying temporarily.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
245 Posts
I put some 1:1 syrup on two hives today (one being a small swarm I brought home last night). Not seeing anything coming in right now. Praying we get the rain forecasted for Wednesday and Thursday!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,208 Posts
Have you seen the queen in the hive? A virgin queen is very flighty, so if you have opened the hive soon after hiving them, she might have flown out of the hive. If you know she's in there, I'd give her another week or so and then put a frame of eggs and newly hatched larvae in the hive and see if they supercede her with a new one made from the fresh larvae, unless you can pull a couple of capped queen cells already formed in another hive. You still have plenty of time to build up the hive this summer.

She might be an old queen that can't get started laying again or she might have come from a stressed colony and just quit laying temporarily.
I have not seen her. To be honest I have not looked. I dropped from the tree into a cardboard box...including the branch. I shook them off the branch and poured them in a 10 frame deep. The deep had undrawn wax foundation and one frame of brood. The stragglers promptly filed in. When all bees were in...that night...I put an excluder under the frames and moved them to the hive yard. Two days later I removed the excluder. There were lots of bees in the hive. At the end of week one...Fri....I looked in to find all frames fully drawn and packed with nectar. They had messed up 3 frames and essentially fused them together. I cut out the messed up comb and essentially left some foundation less areas on the frames. Bees were over both sides of the frames. I did not spend time looking for the Queen as the pulled comb was still very soft and heavy with nectar.
I don't think she flew away when I removed the excluder..I just lifted the box up an inch or so and eased out the excluder. I put any clinging bees back in the hive. It was late evening and no flyers.

I hive a small swarm from the same area ...I did not use an excluder as they were in a nuc with a flat ply wood bottom board. They have remained in the nuc, have drawn comb and filled it with nectar and pollen but as yet no brood. They gathered a couple of days after the large swarm.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
The swarm may leave the original hive several days before the new queen emerges, plus it is believed that the workers stop feeding the old laying queen and she stops laying several days before the anticipated swarm date so she will be lighter and able to fly easier. At least that's what I've read. So I guess that process could cover more than three weeks which would give all eggs opportunity to be hatched, be fed and then capped, and emerge by the time I discovered the lack of brood.
That seems like a good way for the bees to resist varroa.
 
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
Top