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I have 2 hives, one healthy and one that has been queenless for several weeks at least.  I knew there was something wrong with it but only had the chance to look thoroughly this week when I shook off the bees (was mostly focused of checking for signs of AFB) and noticed no open brood or eggs, a reduction in honey and just a lot of pollen or vacant cells in the lower box.  They have been grumpy for some time.  I noticed one queen cell with a developed pupa in it but not closed yet so they are trying to sort it out themselves.  If she does survive/mate/lay this will take several weeks by which time I would lose most of the colony, am I right?  Or the workers will start laying and kill the new queen.  Help me work out what to do, I know this is a pretty common situation with new beeks such as me, I would probably choose the way where I can learn the most and introducing a bought virgin or mated queen just seems a like the easy way out (or likely to fail).  

 

The healthy calm hive has good solid brood/uncapped larvae on several frames.   Sorry I know this kind of question keeps coming up.

Edited by Paul Beer
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First off.  The chances of that QC being viable is very limited.

Put a frame with eggs in from your other hive.  Check in 3 or 4 days for queen cells.

If there are queen cells then they are queenlees.   If no queen cells they possibly have a virgin queen already in the hive.

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Go back and check in a week to see what that open brood looks like.

it was hard to know from your OP how long they had actually been queenless and whether there was any brood in the hive when you saw the queencell.

if it had sealed worker brood then everything’s probably fine but if it was just a queencell with no other brood around it may not be.

im concerned it’s been queenless for so long it might be laying workers.

it also could be a lovely new queen but always pays to check to make sure 

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4 hours ago, Paul Beer said:

Thanks for your quick reply Trevor.   We will do that today and keep updating 

Good.  Don't make decisions in haste.

Also the extra brood that you put in will help the hive and keep it alive.

 

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7 hours ago, kaihoka said:

After you put a frame of eggs in a queenless hive how long is it before they make the obvious Visual  sign of a beginning queen cell .

Usually within 3 or 4 days.  Sometimes they do not make a cell so after 7 to 10 days I put in another frame with open brood and eggs.

The open brood will stimulate the bees to make cells (if required).

If no cells after 2nd frame it is time for another intervention of perhaps a mated queen.

 

I do not like virgin queens.  I think they are a waste of money and time.

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Thanks for your quick reply Trevor.   We will do that today and keep updating 

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I just came in from doing it.  So much to learn..part way through I realised that I did not know whether to leave the bees on the frames but decided to shake brush them off.  

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4 hours ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

Good.  That is correct

After you put a frame of eggs in a queenless hive how long is it before they make the obvious Visual  sign of a beginning queen cell .

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@Trevor Gillbanks I am experimenting with using HD  nuc boxes with QE bottoms to make a couple of queens .

As I mentioned in a previous post even with the QE open the bees put cells all through the open brood I moved up there  initially  so what was supposed to be a controlled exercise has been a bit of a mess.

In one nuc I put a couple of cells from a superseding queen , changed my mind because they looked to small , destroyed them and added eggs , but they did not make cells .

I added more eggs and and 48 hrs later I can not see sign of cell building but I think I have looked prematurely.

The other nuc has some nice capped cells .

When I do this  again I will make up a nuc with the bottom shut .

Put in one frame of eggs , pollen , honey and shake lots of bees in and leave shut for three days .

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I checked today, they had not made any queen cells on the new frame.  The QC on the other frame was empty and open.  Still did not see any signs of a queen, maybe I need better glasses.  

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Your potential queen may well be a virgin and sometimes very difficult to spot. Follow Trevs advice and add another frame. When looking for eggs, hold the frame so the sun is coming over your shoulder, it makes them very much easier to spot (and maybe saves you the glasses)

When searching for the queen, scan the outer edges of the frame first ,(she will make a runner for the dark side) then look at the central parts of the frame

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Alright, I will put another one in tomorrow.  Saw the other hive's queen today.  At least I can see that much ?

Edited by Paul Beer

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2 hours ago, Paul Beer said:

I checked today, they had not made any queen cells on the new frame.  The QC on the other frame was empty and open.  Still did not see any signs of a queen, maybe I need better glasses.  

Open as in nearly opened at the end like a tin opener had done it , or a big hole in the side ?

It sounds like you’ve got a new queen who may or may not be out flying .

New queens can be hard to spot and you’d be best to stay out of there for a while 

 

If your cell was not neatly opened then whatever was in side it may have been a dud and the bees cleaned  it out. 

 

Pics are helpful 

Edited by M4tt
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Like a can opener.  Alright I will stay out of there for a while.  

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11 minutes ago, Paul Beer said:

Like a can opener.  Alright I will stay out of there for a while.  

Excellent plan . ?

I like it ?

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I've just done an inspection and I'm delighted to report, I noticed the hive was calmer and there is a small patch of new open brood 😅 a sight for sore eyes after 6 weeks of nothing.  It was only about 200 I suppose so the new queen must have just started but yay, looks like there's time to strengthen the hive before Autumn.   

 

I installed OA narrow staples for the first time today, so I will watch the ground outside the hives with bated breath.  Thank you for the help everyone.  

Edited by Paul Beer
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Yup ok will do frazzledfozzle, I did not know myself how long they were queenless but there was no brood left.  I read quite a bit about the situation before asking here as I knew it was a common occurrence for new beeks, but I just became confused and lost perspective on it, and it would have been easy to waste money and time going the wrong direction.  I was fairly sure they were going to turn into laying workers.  I'm glad I asked for help here.  

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@Paul Beer check your sealed brood not open brood, sorry for the mistake on my previous post :)  

 

Edited by frazzledfozzle

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Ya I really hope it is not drone brood 🤨

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3 hours ago, Paul Beer said:

Ya I really hope it is not drone brood 🤨

you know what you're looking for, that's great!

now, assuming it's worker brood (i reckon it will be), make sure they have stores/food available to build up numbers before autumn

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Update, I couldn't wait any longer so had a peek and the brood is good increased and :) mostly sealed now and also there is new brood on another frame, so 3 frames total including the donated one from the other hive.  But what I immediately noticed when opening the hive is the calmness.  So I'm as happy as can be about it.  They have enough honey tommy dave, almost 20 kg.  But of course I'm hoping for more, now that they are on the right track.  The other plastic hive has about 30kg honey.  We got them as nucs in mid october so a bit late starting. 

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1 hour ago, Paul Beer said:

Update, I couldn't wait any longer so had a peek and the brood is good increased and :) mostly sealed now and also there is new brood on another frame, so 3 frames total including the donated one from the other hive.  But what I immediately noticed when opening the hive is the calmness.  So I'm as happy as can be about it.  They have enough honey tommy dave, almost 20 kg.  But of course I'm hoping for more, now that they are on the right track.  The other plastic hive has about 30kg honey.  We got them as nucs in mid october so a bit late starting. 

sounds sorted. Glad to hear it. Nice work.

 

next step. Here are a bunch of questions to consider, likely you've already thought of them. but, just in case, i'm sSimply posting them to get you thinking well in advance. There are plenty of right answers, my impression is you'll find one so long as you think about the questions :):

1 - how many boxes will you overwinter with?

1a - how and when will you reduce the entrances?

2 - how much honey will you leave on each hive?

2a - how will you store any wets (as in frames/boxes that have been extracted from but still have a honey residue)?

3 - when will you varroa treat, and with what?

4 - how will you monitor varroa levels post-treatment and in spring?

5 - how will you monitor stores through winter/spring?

6 - how will you monitor varroa during spring buildup? what will your treatment approach be?

7 - how will you manage brood area space in spring to prevent swarming?

8 - how many spare frames and boxes will you have for next spring summer?

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I will answer some now. Just to reinforce my thinking ya know.

I reduced the entrances yesterday after you said.  It was a detail i had forgotten about.  Blocked one side of plastic hive entrance.  Have inserted wooden entrance reducer with larger opening on other hive.

 

I put OA strips in 4 per FD box on Monday.  No signs of chewing yet.  I will basically follow the known guidelines for this treatment and i plan to never use any synthetic type.  Never done alcohol wash or sugar shake as believe it or not I'm not that curious about exact mite levels.  I saw 2 bees with dwv crawling away from the hives back in November so put bayvarol in.  But i took the bayvarol out in exasperation early this year, having made up my mind to use OA.  Saw one mite after opening about 50 drone cells last week.  I find the rest of your q's thought provoking as i have read over all of it but can't remember thoroughly. 

 

At the moment I'm mostly interested in how much honey we can take off, we had been thinking of leaving it all on but i read a discussion about on this forum and seems like almost a consensus that feeding sugar water is acceptable.  I would prefer to leave them at least 15kg honey each from May.  I'm looking forward to learning how to monitor the inside of the hives in winter.  A side interest is comparing the 2 different hive types long term. 

 

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9 hours ago, Paul Beer said:

I'm looking forward to learning how to monitor the inside of the hives in winter.

That's easy, leave them alone.

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