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Why isn't the queen laying in summer


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On today's inspection the queen wasn't laying in one my hives. There is a mated queen, 4 queen cells  and maybe 20 cells of capped drone brood and no other brood in any stages i.e egg or capped/emerging bees. Apart from the lack of brood the hive is strong.

 

The hive has four full depth boxes. The top two boxes  are honey and are half capped. The bottom two boxes are the brood nest and the middle has empty cells (not back filled) and further out  the nest  there is pollen then honey. Its parent hive was treated for Varroa in Early spring using bayvoral.

 

The hive was fully inspected 1-2 months ago and all was good. The hive has a ventilated bottom board and about 2.5 weeks ago I added a top entrance to the hive (about 60mm by 9mm), this was my attempt to create a chimney affect to speed up the capping of the honey and today I removed it.

 

What do you think is the problem? my thoughts are

 

1. Queen wasn't mated well and Supersedure is in order

2. Chimney affect making hive too cold

3. Varroa, I am yet to do a count.

 

 

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@Christi An we had a very bad weather few days ago. Unusually we had a very hot and dry weather from late October till Christmas and the plants were like a month ahead, while the nectar dried in

My pick is sudden queen failure. Maybe she was injured during an inspection. Maybe illness. Maybe a physical deformity. Regardless, she stopped laying but as she was still present the bees missed thei

There are several possibilities. The hive may have recently swarmed, although that is less likely. Another is that the queen has turned drone layer, meaning she is now only able to lay unfertilised eg

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There are several possibilities. The hive may have recently swarmed, although that is less likely. Another is that the queen has turned drone layer, meaning she is now only able to lay unfertilised eggs which can only become drones. In a desperate attempt to survive the bees will sometimes build queen cells but they have drone larvae inside them and do not survive until hatching. The third reason is that there is no queen at all (could have been accidentally killed during the last inspection), and the eggs are being laid by laying workers. These eggs also can only become drones and the bees will attempt to build queen cells but they do not survive.

 

Could you post a pic of the brood showing the queen cells? Hopefully good enough quality to also show the eggs? Reason being that the eggs are diagnostic of the problem. If there is one egg only in the middle of each cell, you have a queen, even though possibly a drone layer. If there are multiple eggs in the cells you have laying workers.

 

Once we know what the problem is, we can talk you through how to fix it.

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3 hours ago, werdna said:

I've taken some pics, see links below

 

I didn't do a good job. I thought I took one of the 2 capped queen cells that are  emergency like on dark brown brood frame, but turns out I didn't

My pick is sudden queen failure. Maybe she was injured during an inspection. Maybe illness. Maybe a physical deformity. Regardless, she stopped laying but as she was still present the bees missed their opportunity to supersede.

 

She's now laying infrequent drones some of which the bees are trying to create cells from.  The colony will dwindle and die if they don't get a new queen. As they are trying to raise a cell I'd give them a protected cell on a frame of brood and leave them to it. 

Edited by Rob Stockley
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I agree with Rob (though i would remove the old queen first - just to make sure)

if you dont have a protected cell you could also just insert a frame with eggs and young brood and let the bees do their thing.

2 things i want to add:

 

1) virgin queens CAN go through an excluder sometimes (i had that case last year) of course once they are in the honey supers they might not be able to go back down at a later time. => Drone layer in the Honey supers! so you might remove the honey supers (or at least the excluder) from the hive before the new queen hatches. Once shes laying you can put everything back on

2) Depending on the Situation regarding Honey harvest you might want to consider treating for Varroa. they're without brood.

id probably remove the Honey, kill the queen and then split the hive (as it is pretty strong as you say) into maybe 4 nucs. (youd need 4 queen cells -  or 4 Frames of brood - which is a little much), and give each one a treatment with oxalic acid.

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From your pics I've cropped this one which I think shows a couple of eggs on the side of the cell, this most often indicates laying workers.

 

The second one shows what is probably drone brood, most likely the result of a laying worker.

 

Have you actually seen the queen recently, and is this your only hive?

 

 

a1.JPG

a2.JPG

Edited by Alastair
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You state that "there is a mated queen and 4 queencells".... Have you seen the queen today or do you mean that there was a queen in there some time ago? When was your last inspection - what did you see and when did you see the queen or a brood pattern you would expect with a laying queen - i.e. brood of all ages.

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@Christi An we had a very bad weather few days ago.

Unusually we had a very hot and dry weather from late October till Christmas and the plants were like a month ahead, while the nectar dried in the trees.

After that it was mostly cloudy till few days ago when we got hit by a small cyclone and that shook the trees badly.

If one makes such small nucs as you suggest it will be difficult for them to build up till May because there is not too much plants left to bloom in @werdna's area. With drawn out combs and heavy feeding till May it may be okay but not guaranteed.

This season the weather was not good.

Those surrounded with pasture may do a good-ish crop till March is the weather stays warm.

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I saw the queen on my inspection yesterday and to me she looked big enough to be mated. I have 2 other hives and surplus nucs at my house.

 

Today I added a frame of eggs and newly hatched larvae (I added notches for OTS queen rearing and the frame is newly drawn and not seen brood or stores before) I plan to inspect this frame in a few days, hopefully queen cells are being made? I have a preference for having the top two supers of honey capped over hive numbers, do you think I should I move these supers onto another honey producing hive?

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6 hours ago, werdna said:

I saw the queen on my inspection yesterday and to me she looked big enough to be mated. I have 2 other hives and surplus nucs at my house.

 

Today I added a frame of eggs and newly hatched larvae (I added notches for OTS queen rearing and the frame is newly drawn and not seen brood or stores before) I plan to inspect this frame in a few days, hopefully queen cells are being made? I have a preference for having the top two supers of honey capped over hive numbers, do you think I should I move these supers onto another honey producing hive?

 

smart idea with the notches :-) if it works you'd have to remove any "feral" cells that have been placed elsewhere to make sure they raise from a notched cell... but thats up to you.
However when you saw a queen i doubt they will produce cells, i would have removed her first.
i would remove the honey supers (ONLY if youre sure there is no Disease involved of course!)

 

10 hours ago, Kiwi Bee said:

@Christi An we had a very bad weather few days ago.

Unusually we had a very hot and dry weather from late October till Christmas and the plants were like a month ahead, while the nectar dried in the trees.

After that it was mostly cloudy till few days ago when we got hit by a small cyclone and that shook the trees badly.

If one makes such small nucs as you suggest it will be difficult for them to build up till May because there is not too much plants left to bloom in @werdna's area. With drawn out combs and heavy feeding till May it may be okay but not guaranteed.

This season the weather was not good.

Those surrounded with pasture may do a good-ish crop till March is the weather stays warm.


@Kiwi Bee thanks for the input. i have to agree. Small nucs (like a 4 way split) would of course need constant feeding (sugar and if theres no pollen also protein) and a lot of care. An advantage of many "weaker" Nucs is if they are not strong enough in late Autumn to make it through Winter you can always merge them (let them figure out which queen they want -  or remove/sell one).

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On 1/6/2018 at 5:54 PM, werdna said:

I've taken some pics, see links below

 

I didn't do a good job. I thought I took one of the 2 capped queen cells that are  emergency like on dark brown brood frame, but turns out I didn't

 

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Werda can we have a chat please off this site?

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After adding that new frame of eggs one week ago, I made no further changes to this hive.

 

On todays inspection I saw new eggs on three other frames and two queens in this hive, there was only one frame separating the two queens. One of the queens was large and another was smallish.

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