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Combine, Requeen or Wait? Advice please.

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Horus 

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I'm still a newbie to beekeeping, but having to learn quickly. Sorry this is a bit long, but it seems a bit complicated to me at least.

Started with a nuc (with imported queen) in April this year put into a standard National hive. Doing very well initially, until mid-late June when I found several queen cups. Read up and asked around "don't worry - just practice" etc. Saw several with eggs in a few days later, and with 8+ frames packed with brood I wondered about giving more space. The advice from a local senior expert was to do an artificial swarm, and as I had already another hive at hand I did this.

Hive 1 being the colony with queen and 2 frames of brood and another 2 of stores (and a super 1/2 full of honey).

Hive 2 being the remainder of the brood, with by now a few proper queen cells with larvae. This lot were fed for a few days.

Just under a week later, Hive 1 swarmed. Fortunately I saw it happen, followed the troop and collected most of the bees (about 2/3 I guess) - (despite having an unpleasant fall from a conifer where they had settled). I put the swarm in the original nuc box. I had managed to include the marked queen, and they seemed happy there, so I made an eke and fed them too.

I was told that I could let both Hive 1 and 2 raise their own queen cells. July 1st, Hive 1 had 5 large sealed queen cells on 3 frames. Interestingly, thoughout, all queen cup/cells produced had only been on the old tatty frames that came with the nuc with none anywhere to date on the new frames that I had made up.

I put one frame with 2 Q cells (with some eggs/brood) into Hive 1 from Hive 2 . Then culled one frames C cells in Hive 1, leaving both hives with recently closed queen cells.

Then came the real dilemma and panic - had to go away from best part of 3 weeks with no time left to take further advice or do much else. I supered up both hives, and gave the nuc a bit of spare space above the brood chamber and went away.

Came back from hols, and inspected today (22 days after seeing capped queen cells that had been open only 3-4 days previously):

Nuc box doing well - 3 frames of eggs/brood and some stores. Q OK. I have moved this lot to a proper brood box in a make-shift hive (Hive 3) whilst more bits are in the post to make up to a full hive.

Hive 1 - lots of activity and lots of pollen and nectar coming in - but no brood or eggs. No queen - but one solitary capped Q cell (presume after this time that closed after Q exit). All other attempts at queen cells have been dismantled.

Hive 2 - not a lot of activity, stores limited to brood chamber, with lots of bees covering about 5 frames. Unmarked Q is seen! No eggs. No queen cells.

I have given up any thoughts of harvesting any honey for this year, but would quite like to get set up for a good chance for next season.

Q1. Do I combine Hive 1 with one of the others, requeen either by putting in a frame with eggs from Hive 3 or buy in a new queen?

Q2. I assume it's a bit early for the new queen in Hive 2 to be laying, but can I tell if she will have been mated or not, and how long do I leave it before worrying that she is not laying?


I'm sure there are many different possibilities here, but I'd really welcome any suggestions.
 

beebreeder 

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22 days from capped q/cell and in full boxes, you may have queens in both boxes that have not come into lay as yet, there does'nt seem to be the urgency to lay for new queens in full boxes that there is if they are in a nuc or mini nuc, I would keep entrances small to keep wasps out and leave for another week at least especially if there is any polished areas in the brood nest, usually a sign they are waiting for eggs.
kev
 

Rosti 

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I would remove the frame with capped queen cell along with some stores frames and as many adhering bees as possible (to your now empty nuc) as insurance (can you move this 3 miles to avoid fly back?). Use a dummy to bring it down to 3 frames and keep the entrance small to give them a good chance to keep the brood warm and defend.
You know you have a laying queen in your new hive 3. I would regard this as the recipient hive and then unite the remainder of hive 1 to it.
Monitor hive 2 for your apparently unmated queen's progress. Hopefully she will be sucessfully mated and come into lay, should still be drone about and that hive wont have started kicking theirs out if she has not mated yet. If that fails you still have your new nuc taken from hive 1 as a backstop unmated queen, probably available within a week.
Depending on outcome of matings you are then either re-uniting that new nuc with Hive 2 - or the other way round depending on which queen comes into lay or which looks to be the stronger. The prospect of 3 viable over-wintering hives from the combination you have is, I think, remote.

... you know you are going to get another 6 alternatives from others soon! Good luck with it. Above all try to have two viable colonies going into winter.
 

Hivemaker. 

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Hive with mated queen in no problem.....Hive with queen in not mated or just not come into lay if abdomen large,leave alone. Hive with cell and no eggs most likely has a virgin in as well,yes they often reseal cells after queen has emerged....you could put a frame with a small area of eggs and larvae in from your queenrigt colony....if they don't pull emergency cells then they have a queen,you just did not spot her,in which case leave alone for a while longer.
 

Horus 

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Many thanks folks - will hang on a bit longer and consider my options. I'm grateful for the opinions received.

Hivemaker - bearing in mind I'm hoping to have a couple of robust colonies for the winter, would I not be risking depleting queenright Hive 3 a bit, just when it is getting going again, for what is quite late in the day to start another QC in Hive 1 - or are you suggesting this just as a temporary "test"?

Rosti - as there were no eggs in any of the frames in Hive 1 when I departed on Hols over 22 days ago, surely the sealed QC remaining must be "after the event" , either empty or with dead bee in it? Also, there's no brood in this hive, and seem to be considerably fewer bees than a couple of weeks ago, so I'm not sure what of the chances of rearing another queen. Would I not risk moving a new queen that I may have missed that hatched whilst I was away?
 

Hivemaker. 

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Yes, just to test as you have not actually seen a virgin queen,only needs to be a very small patch of open brood....not a comlete frame full of brood,so will have next to no impact on your queenright hive.
 

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