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Windward

Drone laying queen...how to proceed?

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I have wintered over two single box colonies. One is strong and one weak. I took a look at the weak one and found only drone brood  I found the queen. Last autumn there were some superceedure cells. Now there are quite a few opened cells. I have transfered a frame of capped brood and a frame of eggs and larvae from the strong hive to reinvigorate the weaker hive. My questions are 1. Could the weak hive queen have wintered over from autumn and simply be played out (she looks mature) 2. Could she be a new virgin queen waiting for spring to become more established before doing a mating flight. 3. Either way is she likely to kill any new superceedure queens i.e. should I squash her if new superceedure cells are built so the young queens get a chance? 

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Once a drone laying queen , always a drone laying queen . The drones she lays are no good and run the colony down .

They will not build new queen cells with the drone laying queen in there. You need to squash her to initiate an emergency response so the bees will build queen cells. 

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21 minutes ago, M4tt said:

Once a drone laying queen , always a drone laying queen . The drones she lays are no good and run the colony down .

They will not build new queen cells with the drone laying queen in there. You need to squash her to initiate an emergency response so the bees will build queen cells. 

eggs will be required

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Sometimes the addition of healthy eggs and brood with young bees to a drone layer will induce a supersedure but you are far better to kill it. The remaining bees in the hive will be very old and it needs as much brood and fresh bees as you can spare. You could also swap your two hives over which will give a flush of new bees to the hive. It still pretty early to be raising new Queen's but if there are drones about then  with luck you will get a good mating. Nothing is ever guaranteed with mating and 80% is a good success rate even under ideal conditions and this early you can expect a lot less. Provided you keep enough healthy bees in the hive  you can always have another go later if it doesn't succeed.

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Eek so hard to kill a queen. So should i persist with the split in an effort to raise a new queen or combine the now queenless hive with the strong one. 

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8 hours ago, Windward said:

Eek so hard to kill a queen. So should i persist with the split in an effort to raise a new queen or combine the now queenless hive with the strong one. 

That’s entirely up to you . 

Either method is valid .

 

As time goes by , you’ll learn it’s necessary to remove dud queens for the benefit of the hive . They will fade away and die out otherwise 

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taking brood from the strong colony is likely going to reduce your honey crop from it as you want a strong hive early, especially if you want to harvest honey early.

 

It would be simpler and better to get rid of the weaker hive and make new nucs/splits in late spring/summer. you can easily make 3 hives out of one healthy hive during the course of the year.

 

I'd kill the queen (i also never feel good about it but sometimes it is just necessary)

 

wait for 2 hours (then the bees will have realized that they are queenless -not strictly necessary). then give the hive a good smoke (not strictly necessary either)

 

if your hives are on a bigger property carry it at least 20 meters from its current position and start shaking the bees to the ground. The bees will immediately start to fly back where they think their hive is located, as it is gone (also remove any pallets there if applicable) theyll start looking around and when they find the other hive try to enter that one. Worker bees (especially those ones with honey in their stomach -thats why they recieved a good smoke) will be let in. queens and laying workers generally wont. if you feel really nervous about a queen entering the hive you could put a queen excluder in front of the entrance.

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A hopelessly queenless hive is a walking dead  hive, if you sacrifice the queen you may save the worker bees. 

Shaking all the bee out as above is a way to get rid of the old queen of you cant find her. Please just remember to do an afb check on what’s left of the old brood. You’re not likely to see it in the drone brood (doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open cells to check) but look carefully for black scale in empty worker brood cells. The AFB PMP website has a good 5 min refresher clip and quiz. 

 

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Ok dlq found and disposed of. I did find a new intact superceedure cell today and wonder if I should give this one a chance to develop before I go down the combining hives route? There seem to be plenty of bees in the hive still as well as the two frames of worker brood and larvae added from my strong hive.

 

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Windward said:

Ok dlq found and disposed of. I did find a new intact superceedure cell today and wonder if I should give this one a chance to develop before I go down the combining hives route? There seem to be plenty of bees in the hive still as well as the two frames of worker brood and larvae added from my strong hive.

 

Which frame is the queen cell on?

If it’s on the frame with drone brood it will most likely be a drone in there and they come to nothing . 

If it’s on a frame you added it will be good. 

You can always give them a fresh frame of eggs from your other hive, and put back one of the frames of brood you introduced .

 

I have supercedure cells in a couple of hives so the bees must think it’s breeding  season very soon 

 

Nice work with the queen 😊

Edited by M4tt
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Thanks for the heads up re the different frames. I will check. 

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