Queenless!

     We just got back from a fishing trip to N. Minnesota.  It has been just under a month since the first swarm on hive two.  Before we left, we had placed a honey super on each hive and so decided to check to see how they were filling out and to make sure we had a queen in the hive that swarmed.
Bad news.  We searched the entire hive and found no eggs, no larva, and not even any capped brood.  Lots of bees, though, and they have been busy filling out the super I put on awhile back.  I saw them this morning even bringing in pollen, which I have been told is a sign of brood in the hive that needs to be fed.  We did find a couple supercedure cells that appeared to be occupied, so we are hoping that one queen at least will emerge.  Since the hive is almost packed solid with honey, we removed some frames and replaced them with fresh, empty foundation hoping the queen will have a place to begin to lay once she emerges and returns from her mating flight.
     In the meantime, or just in case, we thought we would put a frame of eggs/young larva from hive #1 and they could make a queen from that if they needed.  So we left an empty frame slot, put the hive back together and opened hive #1.  Worse news.  Not a sign of any eggs or larva, though there were some spotty capped brood cells on several frames.  Tons of bees, as you can see below on the hive after we had closed it back up.
     We took out some honey frames and put in fresh foundation in this hive as well.  I left them there this afternoon but will go out and get them this evening.  I'll probably extract and save the honey to feed them in the fall if needed. 
     So, what to do?  Very disappointed to find no queen.  Neither hive behaved aggressively, as queenless hives are sometimes known to do, though there were bees everywhere:  in the air, all over the hive, and all over us. Through carelessness, I took a couple stings in my glove but they didn't penetrate.  It was impossible to not be killing bees, there were so many and they wouldn't stay down in the frames.
     I ordered one new Minnesota hygenic queen.  I'm hoping hive #2 will produce a queen from one of the supercedure cells we saw.  I'll put her in #1.  If the bees begin to attack her in the cage, I would take that to mean they have a queen, in which case I'll put her in a nuc with some bees and honey and hopefully they will take to her there.  If I still see no queen in #1, I'll try again to introduce her to that hive.  Once she begins to lay, if there still is no queen in #2, I'll put some of her eggs there and see if they can make a queen.  
I feel at this point like I have no clue what I'm doing. :(

Comments

  1. I feel your pain Jim, I really do. That is exactly how I am feeling about our split. I've been doing everything by the book but when the bees don't go by the book I am at a loss. Where did you order your queen? I think we may have to order one from out of state. Natures Nectar says they are out :( I have no words of wisdom, I wish I knew what the solution is when you find a hive queenless other than buying a newbie. What if there are no queen to be purchased? :( I hope your fishing trip was great. We've been having pretty good weather so far here in MN. A nice break from all the rain.

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  2. Hi. Thanks, Michelle. I am ordering a queen out of B & B Honeyfarms http://www.bbhoneyfarms.com/store/
    in Minnesota. I got one from them last year when I did a split. I ordered online yesterday and they said they had them in stock, so I hope to get a call from them today confirming. If not, I think there are still plenty of queens out there, it's not too late in season. I found late summer someone in N. Carolina still had queens. Crazy--the little critters keep finding ways to challenge.

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  3. Thanks for the info Jim. I had no idea there was another bee supplier here. We still haven't split. I'm confuzzled by our bees. We had a 100 degree day and you would have thought we didn't have any bees. None were hanging outside the box. I would think they are over full with the amount inside but the bees think otherwise. I'm wondering if they aren't strong enough to split. This is all so new I have no idea what I'm doing :( Hopefully all this trial and error will teach me a few things. I will look into getting a new queen and moving forward with the split.

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  4. I think Monday will be the last day B&B will be shipping out queens. Here's a suggestion, though--why not wait until after the big honey flow, which we had here in June last year (for what that's worth with this crazy weather) and then do a split, having your bees make their own queen in the split. You can assess after the honey flow the strength of the hive before doing a split, and there still would be time for the new colony to make a queen and build enough to have a good chance of overwintering. Just something else to consider!

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