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Author Topic: Queenless hive / Broken Queen Cell  (Read 1705 times)
kudzu80
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« on: January 15, 2012, 05:39:15 PM »

Hi all,
 I checked my hive today for the first time in about 3 weeks. I have been working crazy hours and haven't been home to check it.
The hive is not quite a year old and I have been feeding them sugar water for the winter, along with leaving last spring/summers honey stores in place.
They usually gobble up that sugar water pretty fast, and I noticed that they haven't been, and the hive entry hasn't had nearly the activity that it usually does. I knew something may not be right, but as I said, haven't been home at a decent hour to do anything about it.
I checked today and cannot find the queen. I checked each tray multiple times. I did find 2 Queen cells and evidence of more being built, or they had started to build and abandoned.
One of the 2 queen cells WAS capped, but it was on the first tray I removed and was attached to the tray next to it. When I removed the tray, I tore away the cap. I didn't see it until it was too late. It is full of royal jelly and is intact except for the cap.
Should I buy a new queen? What are the chances that the Queen cells are Queen layed larvae, not worker layed?
There is NO brood in the hive except for the queen cells.

Thanks for any help!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 08:25:41 PM »

>Hopelessly lost

It would be VERY helpful to know where you are.  If you're in Australia or Florida the assessment would be much different than if your are in Massachusetts or Nebraska.

>I checked my hive today for the first time in about 3 weeks. I have been working crazy hours and haven't been home to check it.
The hive is not quite a year old and I have been feeding them sugar water for the winter, along with leaving last spring/summers honey stores in place.
They usually gobble up that sugar water pretty fast, and I noticed that they haven't been, and the hive entry hasn't had nearly the activity that it usually does.

I certainly wouldn't be feeding syrup to bees in a cold climate unless they were starving...

> I knew something may not be right, but as I said, haven't been home at a decent hour to do anything about it.
I checked today and cannot find the queen. I checked each tray multiple times. I did find 2 Queen cells and evidence of more being built, or they had started to build and abandoned.

I assume from this you're in a warm climate?  Or has it been so warm that the bees have been building up as if it's April?

>One of the 2 queen cells WAS capped, but it was on the first tray I removed and was attached to the tray next to it. When I removed the tray, I tore away the cap.

I haven't heard the term "tray" used except on those boxes of Mann lake PF120s I have... I assume we are talking about frames/combs.

>I didn't see it until it was too late. It is full of royal jelly and is intact except for the cap.

They probably will remove the queen, but sometimes they recap it.

>Should I buy a new queen?

Again, if you are in the US and it is now January, you cannot buy a queen.

>What are the chances that the Queen cells are Queen layed larvae, not worker layed?

They will build queen cells from worker laid larvae, but you would see a lot of multiple eggs and they would have big eyed drone puapae in the queen cells...

>There is NO brood in the hive except for the queen cells.

If you are somewhere it is warm and drones are flying (which would not be anywhere in the Northern US) then I would assume they swarmed since you have queen cells and no brood.  But emergency queens wouldn't be out of the question.

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Michael Bush
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kudzu80
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 09:29:39 PM »

Thanks for the response!

I am in So. California. The weather here has been odd this year to say the least. Some weeks ago I was concerned that maybe I should wrap my hive for a little protection from the cold. It was so cold, I went out and bought my first jacket since I moved here 9 years ago!
Now it's been so warm that my nectarine tree has new green limbs and is about to pop new leaves!

I began to feed them because it had been a long time since I had done so, and I figured it would help get them into spring. I learned today that that was a bad idea. I have removed the feeders.

The hive is a 10 frame body/honey super with only 9 frames in each. I've had the hive since April/11. All the frames have comb but only 5 or 6 are fully drawn. The Super is less than half drawn and even less honey.

In August I lost at least half the hive, maybe more, to what could have only been pesticide. Hundreds upon hundreds of bees crawling around on the ground, all flightless, all disoriented. It was heartbreaking. Everything was going wonderfully smooth up to that point, and now this.

I was afraid when I posted this that it was too early in the year to get a replacement queen and after much searching, that has been confirmed.

P.S. - I meant frames on the first post.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2012, 06:59:14 AM »

>It was so cold

I assume that means it was 40 F?  If you were in Nebraska I would assume you mean -20 F...

You may never have an issue with feeding syrup in S CA.  Heft the back of the hive to check the weight.  This will give you an idea of what kind of stores they have.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
Rich V
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2012, 06:28:37 PM »

 Is anything in bloom this time of year in SC? What ratio sugar to water did you give them?
I don't think I would have put a super on if all the frames weren't fully drawn.
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kudzu80
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2012, 08:50:12 PM »

In response to the weather, and flowering plants question. REALLY weird this year. It's been hard to pin down, safe to say at this point that we are in an early spring. Last year we had cool weather into late March and the typical California heat didn't hit until late April.

As for the hive. The Queen cells did not produce a queen and there are now 3 frame sides covered sporadically with capped drone cells. I guess it's safe to assume that these are worker laid drones. I'm just going to let the hive run it's course since it's too early/late to get a replacement queen and then try again with a new order of package bees this April.
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2012, 08:59:08 AM »

What about seeing if you could find another beekeeper to buy a frame of very young eggs/larvae from and give it to the hive.  Maybe they'll raise their own queen...apparently drones are being produced.  Huh

I'm a newbee so take what I said with a grain of salt...

Best wishes,
Ed
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Keeperwannabe
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2012, 05:43:55 PM »

Once you have laying workers then it can be difficult to get them to raise a queen.  You should probably just get a new package.
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