Big Manipulation Planned By Newbee

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djg 

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History : I combined two National hives when I found one of the Queens dead in mid-November 2009. The previous week I had a couple of experienced neighbouring beeks looking at the hives to help me check for disease etc, but we had all been unable to find and mark the remaining Queen (which had come unmarked in a nuc in late July 2009). No Queen cell was noted at that inspection , so supercedure seemed unlikely.

The hive came through the winter well, after Apigard, icing sugar and Oxalic acid treatments. But now has relatively high varroa drop 4- 5 /day on varroa board – double brood, remember - and several drones/day are found with deformed/small wings and are evicted from hive (some workers with the same problem, but few). This I attribute to varroa, rather than deformed wing virus.

I found 6 Queen Cups in penultimate weekly inspection, which I knocked off and then 8 in last Saturday’s inspection, one uncapped cell with Royal Jelly, so I decided to take them more seriously. I am working with my beek neighbours (who are raising some Buckfast Queens) to improve our local stock, so I expect to be able to requeen quite soon when new mated Queens are available.

Project : 1) To Perform Shook Swarm on Double-Brood-Box National Hive and move to new Deep National Brood Box. Feed intensively to get comb drawn, queen laying and bees happy and progress to honey crop.

2) Make up two 2 nucs with brood/store frames and a Queen cell in each nuc together with a pint of young bees. Feed, allow to thrive, then treat with Apistan strips in nuc to reduce varroa count, if necessary,
then either combine as a single hive or over-winter as 2 nucs. Re-queen in September, if necessary.

Problem : I need to find the elusive Queen to do this job properly. I intend to track the Queen down by isolating frames in two's in sunlight, leaving for a few minutes, then intensively inspecting inside faces of the comb. However, if this fails ,AS LONG AS THE QUEEN GETS INTO THE NEW BROOD BOX AND STAYS THERE (Queen excluder under Brood Box for a week), then all should be well, shouldn’t it ? Or perhaps I should out a Queen excluder between floor and new broodbox and then shake ALL THE BEES onto the ground outside the hive, allowing them to walk up a ramp into the new brood box, then pick the Queen off the underside of the Queen excluder and hour or so later ?

Even if this were to be a disaster and the Queen was lost, it is extremely likely that I would be able to requeen shortly (from my neighbours or Association contacts).

So if have still not died of boredom considering my project, are there any words of advice you could offer to help me implement my goals? Oh yes…the goals.

Goals:1) To provide healthy and productive environment for existing colony
2) To obtain a honey crop in 2010 from the existing colony
3) To have available healthy nucs for home apiary manipulations or for distribution to new beeks.

Would love to hear your do’s and don’t’s,

DJG:seeya:
 

BKF Admin 

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History :No Queen cell was noted at that inspection , so supercedure seemed unlikely.
But possible as the bees may of torn down the opened queen cell.
This I attribute to varroa, rather than deformed wing virus.
I agree seeing as you say more Drones than workers are affected.

Regards the way forward:
I would put on a QE for 4 days then see what box has eggs.

I would then take 2 nuc boxes and split the box into 3,inspect each box in turn until the queen is found,much better than just tipping them out with a risk of losing/harming the queen,what if the weather turns and the new queens do not mate?,you want the odds in your favour for success not possible failure.
 

djg 

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Very welcome advice, thank you !

It is so instructive to have another angle to interpret what you are seeing...
 

oliver90owner 

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You won't need to inspect two of the boxes very much. Their behaviour will soon indicate which are queenless, and the settled one that is queenright.

KISS principle. Following admins advice and this you may well have reduced your searching to just one sixth of the possible original - and a lot more if you had missed her somewhere in a double brood!

Regards, RAB
 

djg 

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Well, I took advantage of the weather on Saturday and went ahead with the project, with a clear plan of action. However, I could not find the Q, even using all of the techniques recommended here, so I made some decisions on the hoof, dealing with what I had in front of me.

I had found multiple Q cups and two deeper Q cups with eggs, so took the decision to split my double-brood box National by shaking the Q half of the original brood box into the new foundation of a deep National with foundation and a QE underneath and leaving the ordinary National above it Intending to remove QE and reverse brood box positions nect week). I then fed the hive.

I used the two Q cups to populate two 5-frame nucs (3 frames of brood, two of stores each). I left the nucs alone 10m from the main hive and took advantage of 20 hours of slanting rain to keep the bees closed up. I then released the bees and fed each nuc 24 hours later.

In retrospect, both of these decisions were idiotic.

Observing the main hive, there is no pollen going in. So I assume that I have either killed the Q or blundered and put her in one of the nucs.

I may also have made up the nucs with too weak a stock.

I am buying 2 new Qs and hope that they will show up before the main hive goes laying-worker.

Apart from ensuring that any Q which enters my apiary in future is marked, is there anything anyone might like to suggest to save the worst bee-keeper in the world (and his unfortunate charges) from his own stupidity ?
 
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BKF Admin 

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One tip I can give is when you are hunting for an elusive queen,do an inspection and ONLY LOOK FOR THE QUEEN,nothing else! ignore all cells,cups and other bees and just look for her.
 

Poly Hive 

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Can all the newbies please take note.

Queen cups with EGGS are meaningless.

Queen cups with LARVAE are a clear statement of intent to reproduce.

PH
 

djg 

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Duly noted, Polyhive.

The previous Tuesday I had scratched out a QC with larva and royal jelly on the bottom of a frame in the double brood box.

At that time, I did not have the 14x12 brood frames to hand - and that is why I was intent on getting the job done last Saturday and did not want to wait, especially given the weather outlook.

I suspect that your answer would have been the same if you had known about the prior week's QC / larva, but could you confirm that, in light of this new info ?

Thanks for your advice. It is most welcome.
 

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