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Swarm produced comb but then majority of bees vanished, why?


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Firstly I'm new to bees, ignorance is not an excuse :) Need peoples input on what happened, what I could have done as I haven't been able to find a good answer as to what happened... other than swarming after creating comb in top bar. Why, no idea, close to a stream, sun all day, native trees in flower and pasture land at their door step.

 

I collected the swarm and placed into a top bar hive at the end of October. Things looked good with comb being formed (pre-waxed bars) and a good amount of room. After about 5 bars which was about 3 weeks a single supercedure cell starting in mid way down and on edge of comb. Within about a week of seeing this the bee numbers dropped and the supercedure cell had vanished. The bees don't have the vigor now. Some capped honey and nectar being packed away along with some pollen.

 

Someone is bringing a couple of bars of brood, bees etc over to see if we can get them to sort themselves out... but interested to understand why this happened. Is this just one of those things, or something I did?

 

I've since heard of another person who has the same issue.

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Was there any good worker brood in the comb that had been build (not obvious from your description). If not my guess would be that the swarm had a virgin queen that never managed to get mated properly. No new bees will mean the colony goes backwards pretty quick.

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Possibly a queen less swarm taken over by drone layers. The queen cup you saw May have been a practice queen cup, but with no queen laying, they could take it no further. When you add the brood frames, I would dump each frame of bees a little way from the hive so the drone layers don't make it back

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The thing with dumping bees away from the hive is if you do that you lose any young house or nurse bees you may have which is not a good thing.

I'm pretty sure laying workers fly.

The only time I would dump bees away from a hive would be if I was looking for a drone laying queen and couldn't find her or have an excluder to run the bees thru.

I think Otto is right you either had a virgin swarm that didn't get mated or you had the old queen superceded but the virgin didn't mate.

If you had the old queen you would expect to see worker brood if you have no worker brood then you had a virgin queen in your swarm and she's failed to mate or failed to get back to the hive.

 

If you missed the queen when you collected them they often wont stay after hiving because there's no queen or brood to hold them so I think you probably did a good job of collecting the swarm and the other stuff is out of your control :)

 

Thats beekeeping !

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The thing with dumping bees away from the hive is if you do that you lose any young house or nurse bees you may have which is not a good thing.

Absolutely right. I am assuming there has never been worker brood therefore all bees are capable of flying back that are worthy of being in the hive . Will bees produce an emergency queen cell with drone layers present?
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Sounds like you have a laying worker from your second description. Multiple eggs in cells is generally a give away. Without an established hive to dump them outside of you could try some brood comb to see if they will raise a queen but this often does not work if there is a laying worker as the bees think they are queenright.

 

Reckon its time to just give it a go, what have you got to lose.

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Absolutely right. I am assuming there has never been worker brood therefore all bees are capable of flying back that are worthy of being in the hive . Will bees produce an emergency queen cell with drone layers present?

The hive needs worker bee eggs to produce a queen. @@Alastair has some strategies for eliminating the influence of laying workers who may suppress the urge to produce a queen/cell.

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sometimes a hive with laying workers will raise a cell out of worker brood from an other hive and she will mate and the laying workers disappear, but more often this fails. guess it depends a lot on how far it's been gone.

the safest way to sort out a hive with laying workers is to insert some frames of brood and young bees into the middle of the hive and a caged queen between those brood frames.

you may have picked up a swarm that never had a queen. i just picked one up today.

guess a harvest truck had stopped for lunch and after he left the bees stayed behind.

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Checked the hive this afternoon as I ran out of time this morning. There are larva and pupa with a majority of capped drone brood. I didn't see any eggs, maybe need to look harder. Bee numbers are low now:crap:. Spotted a wasp in the hive too... so tomorrow on the hunt for the nest towards neighbors place, managed to spot 2 flying... harder to spot than the books make out, but the straight liners help. Some worker bees are trying to build more comb on a bar they haven't used yet... don't understand that. The honey and a reasonable amount of nectar gone now. Looks like some larva is dead, guessing the wasp has killed then??

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you may have picked up a swarm that never had a queen. i just picked one up today.

guess a harvest truck had stopped for lunch and after he left the bees stayed behind.

How does that work? I thought a swarm need a queen? Either ran out of room or evicted by workers aka swarm cell.

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How does that work? I thought a swarm need a queen? Either ran out of room or evicted by workers aka swarm cell.

Swarms can have an old queen, a new virgin queen, or no queen. Old queen may die, virgin queen may not return from a mating flight , or a group of bees that came out of a hive as a swarm may have got displaced from the queen and left behind without her, or bees can gather in a cluster, confused when honey gets taken off, looking like a swarm, etc etc. Plenty of reasons why they could be queenless

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What a pity you dont have another hive you can merge them with, or do you? Sounds like they are a sitting duck for robbing by wasps and other bees:(

I wish also! Nu Bee bad luck... first and only hive at the moment. learning A LOT the hard way. But have to learn sometime. Just sorting out recovery plan, which is looking like restart.

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There might not be enough bees to keep the larvae warm, hence the dead larvae. If the honey is gone you might need to feed the bees while they try to raise another queen from the brood and eggs you mentioned you were getting. (I hope they come with nurse bees)

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There might not be enough bees to keep the larvae warm, hence the dead larvae. If the honey is gone you might need to feed the bees while they try to raise another queen from the brood and eggs you mentioned you were getting.

Thanks Janice, yes, going to sort out some sugar syrup tonight. Thought I didn't need some after the hive started humming... things change quickly

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I wish also! Nu Bee bad luck... first and only hive at the moment. learning A LOT the hard way. But have to learn sometime. Just sorting out recovery plan, which is looking like restart.

Yep, single hives as a hobbiest leave you with nowhere to turn in a disaster. Two are better for comparing, sharing resources etc. I would say your bees are running out of time to recover with a queen cell, taking in to account mating time and time till her eggs hatch. Perhaps a nuc with a mated queen would be the quickest way to save the bees you have

 

Might need to reduce that entrance down to help defend against wasps, as feeding them will have them wreck the rest of the bees. 1 to 2 cm if there are not many bees and adjust accordingly. Good luck anyway:)

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If you are feeling lucky you could try to buy a queen and introduce her. With a bit of luck your layer has not had too much time to influence the hive into thinking its queenright. You could dump the bees outside the hive and introduce the queen (in its cage) at the same time. This may confuse the bees enough to accept the queen over the layer.

 

Good luck.

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