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Author Topic: Laying workers and capped brood  (Read 678 times)
Palouse
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« on: August 19, 2013, 07:12:37 PM »

I've got one fairly weak hive that I doubt will make it through the winter, and as a new beekeeper, I'm trying to eliminate possible causes.

I think I just have a crappy queen, but the thought of laying workers has crossed my mind because I can't find any eggs (could be my poor eyesight), and for the life of me I cannot find the queen. The big however in all this is that I have capped brood and queen cells. The capped brood is flat worker brood. Knowing that laying workers only lay drones, I assume that the capped brood has to be from a queen because they're worker brood cells with flat caps. Is this correct?
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 07:37:22 PM »

worker brood is flat.  queens lay worker brood.  are the queen cells capped are you sure there is something in them?  that would tell you that you had a queen a couple of weeks ago.

where you are, it is to late to trust that you can get a mated queen and go through a couple of brood cycles.  if it were my hive, i'd scrape the queen cells and combine that hive with another. 

my .02 worth.  maybe someone has a better idea?
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Palouse
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 07:55:21 PM »

worker brood is flat.  queens lay worker brood.  are the queen cells capped are you sure there is something in them?  that would tell you that you had a queen a couple of weeks ago.

where you are, it is to late to trust that you can get a mated queen and go through a couple of brood cycles.  if it were my hive, i'd scrape the queen cells and combine that hive with another. 

my .02 worth.  maybe someone has a better idea?

Kathy...thanks for your response.

It's worker brood then. Very spotty, haphazard pattern.

Two queen cells are capped, one is open with a larva floating in royal jelly. However, I had queen cells two weeks ago last I checked. I don't know if it's the remnants of a hive that swarmed, if it's just a crappy queen, if they have AFB or what. WSU sells mated, hygienic queens for $50 a pop that have been bred for this area by the Entomology Dept., but I'd hate to plunk down $50 and have her not survive the winter. I can feed, but I know they don't have enough stored away for the winter.

I last checked the hive on Aug. 4, and there were open (as in broken open) queen cells, and I fully expected to find a queen when I went in there yesterday. The Palouse Beekeepers Assn. is meeting tonight in Moscow where I'm hoping to find some help, and if I have time beforehand, I'm going in there with a 10x loupe and look for eggs.

I love my bees, but nothing--with the possible exception of raising children--has made me want to bang my head against the wall like bees do.

ADDENDUM: The weak hive is four mediums and the strong five. If I combine, how do I combine that many boxes? Do I shake the smaller hive down to one or two boxes and do the newspaper thing?
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sc-bee
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 08:20:27 PM »

ADDENDUM: The weak hive is four mediums and the strong five. If I combine, how do I combine that many boxes? Do I shake the smaller hive down to one or two boxes and do the newspaper thing?

With the newspaper thing you definitely need to know if the weak hive has a queen. You don't want to be stuck with a weak queen. Since they seem to be trying to superede her, if they are not emergency cells due to something happening to her, the question is "is she still there".

I have never done the shake outs but there was a thread on her just recently where several discussed it and the balling of queens. I do not know if this would pertain to a weak shake out that may contain a queen you could not locate. The shake out method obviously is not quite as large a concern as i was taught. I am sure others will add their comments and let you know.

Good Luck.

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John 3:16
sc-bee
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 08:36:22 PM »

First of all let me apolgize for misreading the post above. I started just to edit my previous post but figured you had already read it  grin You just mentioned a combine and not a shake out. Yes combing the numebr of boxes and getting rid of any frames empty and not needed is a plus.

Anyway, here is the thread i was speaking of it may at least be of some help in the future:

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,42266.0.html
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John 3:16
Palouse
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 05:18:43 PM »

Many thanks for the replies.
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OldMech
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 07:15:39 PM »

Hmmm...  I'm not a pro, hell I am barely a noob...  so I was just thinking what I would do in your situation.. right or wrong..

   You have FOUR boxes of bees, and its the weak hive???   Its only the end of August, should still be a fall flow coming in... fifty bucks for a new queen to build up through the fall flow, and if that's not enough, feed like the dickens through October to get them stores.
   I think I would conglomerate the boxes down to whats necessary.
  In Washington... probably gets colder sooner up there, so maybe feed 2/1 syrup closer to the end of September?  not sure on the timing / temps. I have read that as long as its over 50 deg F you can feed syrup.
   Conglomerate the frames/bees into three mediums, two deeps. Remove empty frames, put frames of brood, pollen honey into the remaining three, paying attention to the order.
   FIND the queen, get rid of her. Remove ALL queen cells, and have a mated queen ready. You lose two or three days that way, instead of four weeks.

Pile the dry sugar on top the frames when you cant feed Syrup any more and hunker down...

   Its 50 bucks.. I can get local queens for 20 bucks here through my association.. don't you have a local beekeeping association that will help you? If not.. as I said, its 50 bucks not much to save a hive...
   In a worst case scenario, THEN combine.. but four boxes seems a lot. I have never tried to combine that many. I would think you had enough with four boxes of bees to make a go of it at this point. If you do combine, you can always get a new queen in the spring and split them to start over. So your not out of options.

   As I said, I am just a noob. My area is a bit south of yours, so take both into consideration. Hopefully one of the veterans will step in and tell you if I am full of poo or not soon!!!!
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39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.
kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 07:35:11 PM »

but is it 4 mediums of bees?  i'm guessing not. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2013, 10:58:58 PM »

4 mediums is more than 2 deeps, it is what I winter my bees in.  So it is of a sufficient size hive to overwinter.
The queen cells are an attempt to supercede an inferior queen and any supercedure process should be allowed to proceed or be re-queened as otherwise the problem continues if the queen is not replaced.
Usually once queen cells are capped, and sometimes before, the worker bees will kill the inferior queen (or swarm if swarm cells) so removing the queen cells is a very bad move as it runs the risk of creating a queenless hive.

BTW, The Skagit County Beekeepers Assoc has 6 hives of the Italian Causcasian cross the WSU is experimenting with in conjunction with UC Berkeley.  We are assisting with the hybrid development with the local WSU experimental farm in Mount Vernon.
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Life is a school.  What have you learned?   Brian      The greatest danger to our society is apathy, vote in every election!
Palouse
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 12:25:43 AM »

Many thanks to everyone who replied.

With regard to the four boxes, that's what I have on the hive right now. Compared with my east hive, which sits right next to it, it is completely anemic. My east hive is booming with bees. My west hive seems empty.

I took my problem to the Palouse Beekeepers Association meeting on Monday night, but it's just as difficult to describe verbally as it is in writing. It was suggested that I feed them, which I have, and the bees seem to be a lot more active and much less lethargic.

I did contact WSU's Entomology Department in search of a new queen, and the PhD student in charge of managing the department's apiary contacted me and said he would come over to the house and take a look at the hive. He also said he and a queen I could have, but it wasn't a program queen. However, he did say she would get me through the winter. The last time I heard from him was on Tuesday. I need to shoot him an email tomorrow. Now that I'm thinking of it, I should invite him over for supper. Grad students are always overworked and underpaid.

I took the beekeeping short course on campus a couple of months ago, and I met a woman who works with bees over at Mt. Vernon. Her name escapes me, but I've got a few pictures of her wearing a bee beard. Anyway, she taught the queen rearing portion of the class--most of which was over my head--and is it is where I first saw someone squish the thorax of a drone, exposing it's phallus on the backside. It gave me the willies.
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Palouse
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 05:53:02 PM »

And the saga continues.

I'm now fairly certain I have a queen. I still can't find her, but I've got brood going--not a lot, but there is brood--things seem to have picked up, and I've learned that I need to be OK with evidence of a queen despite my inability to find her.

One interesting thing is that while most of the foragers are still golden stripped Italians, the house bees are turning black. It really surprised me when I opened things up this last weekend to install the old SBB, now with two layers of screen. Some are black on the last half of their abdomens, and some have all black abdomens. I would assume if they superseded the old queen that she would still be Italian, no? So does that mean--if my hunch is correct and I do have a new queen--that she flew off and mated with Carolinan drones?
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OldMech
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« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2013, 01:22:48 AM »

If they created their own queen, she mated with a multitude of drones available in the area. i have read as many as 10 - 14 Drones. (never witnessed it personally) there is also the issue of knowing that your former queen was 100% Italian... did she have an accent?   kidding...   But... add in the factor that your former queen may have been produced by an Italian queen, and multiple father/drones, it is hard to tell exactly what her genetics were, unless she was artificially inseminated. Add to that, the mating of your current queen with multiple drones.. your bees may come in every color all at the same time.. depending on which of those drones fertilized each individual egg she lays...
   So.. basically, your bees have become.. AMERICAN!!!
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39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.
MsCarol
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« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2013, 09:14:18 AM »


   So.. basically, your bees have become.. AMERICAN!!!

I LOVE IT!!!!!

After this subject first came to my attention, I have spent time studying the individuals coming and going. Most appear to be the 5 banded Italians which are likely the most common strain in the area. Earlier in the spring, I spotted some black/gray honey bees working the clover, but I have not seen them as of late. So there must be or have been other strains .....out there.
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