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Author Topic: Queenless swarm - 2 months on still no queen. WWYD?  (Read 2889 times)
deejaycee
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« on: December 10, 2007, 08:18:19 PM »

Hi folks.  Could use some help on what to do with this hive.  The following are notes from my hive diary

First off, it's spring coming into summer here in New Zealand - so bear in mind my seasons are the opposite to northern hemisphere.

4 October caught a reasonable sized swarm and hived with 2 frames drawn comb and 8 foundation. (NB - new to beekeeping, and only one other hive at this time, so drawn comb scarce).  Queen not sighted, but swarm settled well.   Fed with dry sugar.

13 October.  Inspected.  Half of foundation frames partly drawn.  Nectar and pollen storage started.  No brood or eggs.  Queen not sighted, but plenty of activity and bees.

26 October.  Added feeder with second box of frames.  Does not appear any stronger.  A bit more comb drawn, but not a lot.  Quick inspection, but no obvious brood.

4 November.  Still no change.  Detailed inspection. No brood or eggs.  Only one box partly drawn.  Some pollen and honey storage.  Given 1 frame of brood and eggs from Hive 1.

13 November.  1 box now drawn and six frames full of pollen and honey.  At least six queen cells sighted, at least 4 fulland capped.  Hive distinctly stronger.

19 November.   Mostly out of brood.  Given frame of brood from Hive 3.

29 November.  Very little entrance activity.  Plenty of bees in drawn box.  Bottom box still basically foundation and bees only transiting.  out of brood.  Queen cells not evident - may have been torn down.

1 December.  Hives 2 & 3 moved 6 km to town location.

2 December.  Hive 2 given a frame of brood and one of stores from Hive 3.  Sugar feeder removed.

11 December.  Inspected today.  No new brood or eggs. Still appears queenless.  No new queen cells.  Plenty of activity in one box.

I now have 15 hives - two very strong, this queenless hive, and a dozen new young hives that are getting established.  I dont' have any queen cells anywhere.

I don't really want to combine this hive if I can avoid it.  What would you do to get it queenright?


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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2007, 11:05:18 PM »

Why 2 boxes? (did I read that right 2 boxes on a swarm)
The more space the bees have to oversee the less they can tend to the immediate needs.  Chances are with all that space the queen cells chilled and were removed by the bees and not having any more eggs or 3rd day larva to make queens from they continued to be queenless.  The placement of a frame or 2 of brood was a good move but it should have been done as follows:
1. Reduce 10 frame super to 1/2 using follower board.
2. Keep 2 frames of empty comb.
3. Install 2 frames of brood w/larva & eggs.
4.  Feed with sugar syrup in frame feeder (5th frame) instead of dry sugar.  syrup can be used almost immediately--dry sugar requires a much more intense processing including the gathering of water.
5. Check in 1 week after install of brood frames for queen cells.
6. Check 3 weeks later for hatched queen or evidence of new eggs.
7. Once evidence of laying queen remove follower board and replace remaining frames (with or without comb or foundation).

Failing all that the best bet is to boost the hive with another frame or 2 of bees and purchase a queen to install in the hive. 
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Finsky
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2007, 11:09:06 PM »

Give to the swarm a larvae brood frame. So they start to make new queens if they need.

Sometimes queen die  during the mating flight or old queen dies in the swarm.
If queen is missing in settling the swarm into hive, bees will fly back to original hive.



.
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Finsky
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2007, 11:12:06 PM »

Why 2 boxes?   

If swarm is 4 kg, ( 8 pounds) it needs 2 langstroth boxes. It is a good size to swarm. 

If hive is too hot to swarm or small, colony escapes from the hive.
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deejaycee
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2007, 03:28:44 AM »

Brian - thank you, that's a great procedure and I have copied it for future reference, and you did read right.  the bees have basicaly confined themselves to one box though and haven't really done anything with the second. 

The reason the second went on was that, firstly, this was a large swarm which 'only just' fit in one box and I expected to be expanding rapidly, and secondly I'm a newbie and it's all a bit of guesswork.  I actually caught a second swarm on 26 October that has built up really strongly - added a fourth box today.  It wasn't really until I had this second swarm to compare with that I was left in no doubt that I had a problem.

I would have liked to give syrup, but the hives were at that stage sited too far off for me to tend easily, hence the sugar as a 'better than nothing' option.

Finsky - "If queen is missing in settling the swarm into hive, bees will fly back to original hive" - that's what I understood, and so when the bees settled imediately and didn't abscond, I thought I must have had her.  I wonder if it was a virgin lost on a mating flight.

Think I'm gonna bite the bullet and try to find a queen I can buy tomorrow. 
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Finsky
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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2007, 03:59:04 AM »

.
If you get some swarm more, connect it to "queenless" hive.

I use to feed light 20% syrup to swarms. They build cell walls when syrup fills cells.  - Yeah- I know. no one recommend that but I started my beekeeping and I bougt tens  of swarms. When comb walls have build and bees ventilate moisture away, very few sugar will remain to be mixed into honey.

Best start is 4 kg bees into 2 langstroth hive. That colony is able to forage normally. It has space for brood and honey. 

**************

Virgin swarm queen start to lay after 7 days if wethers are good. Normally hatched start to lay after 10 days.
Swarm queen stays in queen cell 2 days before emerging, and then it is ready to raise to it's wings.

***********

You may take a swarm cell from some hive and look what happens. If bees make on side a hole, they have a queen there.

.

.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2007, 08:54:44 AM »

Hi
Maybe those with more experience can comment, but don't swarms have trouble staying togather and even building comb if they are missing their queen?

Personally, if it were me, I would check back in a week or less (4 + weeks from capping qc's..should be starting to lay by now) and if nothing then at that point I would combine with with one of your small hives. 
Rather than lose the swarm hive you can really give one of your small hives a good boost, and then perhaps split that later. 
Check carefully first, though...I had a similar situation and assumed queenlessness (actually a recovering laying worker hive) and had shook a lot of bees out, disrupting the hive before I started to realize that there was a regular laying pattern and a queen... angry

Keep in mind...you are also running the risk of a laying worker at this point if there isn't a queen in there yet.  If you want to keep them, keep adding eggs/brood in there till you have a queen.

Rick
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2007, 09:38:49 AM »

>If you want to keep them, keep adding eggs/brood in there till you have a queen.

That's what I'd do or just combine them if you're tired of messing with them.
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deejaycee
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« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2007, 04:48:52 PM »

Michael, that's about the point I had hit - couldn't be bothered messing with them anymore.

But yesterday when I was doing inspections, we have eggs and a queen!  YAHOO!

Only about a fist-sized patch of eggs, so this might even have been her first day laying, but I saw her and she looks fit and well, so fingers crossed.
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