A Hive Without A Queen

I was disappointed to find that the 50/50 hive had not successfully raised a queen. One had definitely been reared, but it appears as though she did not successfully mate. there were pockets of drone brood scattered around the hive, with drones emerging from them, and dozen that had already emerged sauntering about. I couldn’t find the queen, and almost thought the workers had gotten rid of her, but I found several random queen cups, some with larvae a few days old that were flooded in royal jelly, and others that had freshly laid eggs in them. The bees were bringing pollen in, and there was a frame on the right side that was full of it. I saw an egg that had actually been laid in the pollen, which makes me wonder if the bees haven’t started to become drone layers. There were only 4 eggs that I saw though. Everything else was capped.

I really wanted to find the queen to that hive, but I couldn’t so I moved on to the colony that I knew had a queen. I found her in seconds, but she hadn’t done much more egg laying since the last time I’d inspected the hive. There were 3 full frames of capped brood, one of which had a small portion of brood that was much too young to be capped. Young larvae were also to be seen in spaces around the edges of the frames, which makes me wonder if they just took their time getting through the honey stores and that’s why those spaces were filled in later. A 4th frame had newer larvae on it, and on the frame next to that one was a large amount of honey stores. I moved an empty frame in between the newer larvae frame and the full frame of brood next to it, in the hopes it would encourage the queen to increase her egg laying.

I’m not quite sure what to do about the 50/50 hive; the one without a functioning queen. Do I wait and let them sort things out for themselves with the new queens they’re raising, or do I buy a new queen for them and hope they take to her? I can’t imagine these queens they’re raising are going to be too successful. And then if the workers have started switching to egg layers I don’t really know what to do to correct that. I’ll talk to my mom about buying a new queen tonight. I need a second hive tool anyway; I may buy a new queen while I’m at it. What do you guys think I should do?

Oh, and I took one of the warre boxes off of the 50/50 hive, because there was no reason to keep it and stress the bees with trying to heat it at night. I left the top warre box on because I don’t have any other way of roofing that hive. 

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2 responses to “A Hive Without A Queen”

  1. Emily Heath says :

    As I see it, you have three possible options, all of which have pros and cons:

    1) you let them get on with producing a new queen. She may find there are not many drones left to mate with this late in the season. On the other hand, she may mate fine. It’ll take about three weeks to get more eggs.

    2) you buy in a mated queen. This will help the hive build up much more quickly, but there is a chance the introduction could go wrong and you’d lose the new queen if you’re not able to find your old queen first.

    3) you combine the two hives. This would give you one strong colony rather than two weaker ones. Again, you’d preferably need to make sure there was only one queen before combining.

    I wouldn’t like to tell you what was the best option, as I don’t know myself!

    If the workers did become laying workers it’s usually advised to shake them out some distance from their hive, the idea being that laying workers are not foragers and won’t find their way home. For whatever reason, this method usually seems to work.

    • willowbatel says :

      Yeah, haha, I’m kind of at a loss. I’ll open both hives today and see how things are going. That said, given the time of year, I have a feeling I will need to just combine them and be done. I don’t really feel comfortable overwintering the two boxes separately, as it will mean a lot of trouble come next spring. It would be so much simpler if the hive parts matched. And if it wasn’t the end of July all of the sudden!

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