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Could Apiguard stop a queen laying completely?

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SimonB 

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I inspected yesterday at the end of the third week of Apiguard treatment. The tray had almost been emptied.

As far as I can tell there is no uncapped brood. I have never yet been able to spot eggs, but saw no larvae also. I had noticed a decline in brood last Saturday (one week ago) but had read on here that varroa treatment can slow the queen down so put it down to that.

My conclusion then is that she stopped laying at least nine days ago, so prior to my last inspection. She is not marked and have never been able to spot her.

Is it too early for her to stop laying for winter. Temperatures here have been reasonable (nr Maidenhead, Berks). There are plenty of stores (3-4 frames), and what appears to be a reasonable amount of pollen (scattered throughout brood, but also a single area about a third of a one side of a deep brood frame).

Some history - this was a 6 frame nuc (national standard) that I received at the beginning of August, hived into a 14x12 body and I added 4 frames of 14x12 foundation. The colony seemed to be expanding well, but was not drawing out the foundation that quickly. After the first week of Apiguard my mentor visited for the first time and suggested feeding. I was reluctant to since they appeared to have plenty of stores at that time, 2 frames or so, but did want the foundation drawn to have as much laying space as possible, and did not want to refute my mentor's advice at his first visit. So I gave them around 5 litres of 1:1 sugar syrup. This did seem to stimulate drawing of the foundation, and a lot of the syrup seemed to end up in the new comb.

At last weeks inspection, since I was concerned about the declining brood levels I shook quite a lot of bees off the frames before inspecting and noticed a small amount of bald brood. From what I have read this is likely either genetic or wax moth larvae. The uncapped cells look to have the slight lip and so appear to have been uncapped by the bees which suggests wax moth, but I have not seen any, nor spent too long looking for them. All frames have bees on, the brood frames are well covered, the stores frame less so, but in my opinion it seemed a reasonably strong colony and the advice appeared to be in that case leave them to manage the wax moth larvae themselves.

At yesterday's inspection I counted about 50 bald brood, I get the impression that if it was genetic there would be more. I don't know for sure when the bald brood first started, but I didn't notice any when I transferred the nuc.

Yesterday their temperament seemed a little worse than normal. I didn't use smoke since I hadn't needed to until now. I did have the hive open for quite some time examining for any signs of brood (20 mins at least). The weather was overcast and a slight breeze, but about 19-20 degrees. Possibly more bees in the air than normal and more going for my head. Also two stings on the gloves for the first time, one on each thumb, but I was clumsy a few times when holding and turning frames as the gloves were getting quite propolised at that point. Also I had opened them up about 3 hours earlier, as it was dry and forecast was poor, but closed them up after inspecting 3 frames as it started raining. I can only try to imagine what a queenless roar is like from people's descriptions on here, but they didn't seem that way to me.

I think I have a reasonably good understanding of what my options are now. My thought was to leave until next weekend when the varroa treatment had finished and see if there was any brood. If not then try a stimulant feed, Nektapol or something similar. I am reluctant to feed sugar syrup as they are already starting to fill the brood area of previously brood holding frames - getting on for 6 frames now with syrup in the centre.

If she is still not laying a week later then try to find her, again I think I understand the various ways of doing this. If I don't find her, then try a test frame. I only have one colony but may be able to source once from my mentor or association.

Probably not worth speculating further about options until the result of the test frame.

What I would appreciate opinions on is If I do find her but she is still not laying, do I accept that she may have ceased for winter, or would it be expected that she would continue laying for a while longer? Is it too late to requeen now assuming I can source one?

The nuc was from Thorne, I don't know the strain nor the age of the queen, but I believe Thorne guarantee at most a one year old queen.

Sorry for the long post but wanted to try to provide plenty of detail and history.

Many thanks
Simon
 

oliver90owner 

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The simple answer is yes.

Your post is very well detailed and although there may be other reasons, it is dificult to see any other obvious problem from the infomation in your post.

It is too early for her to stop laying for winter. Some colonies may have a small amount of brood all through the winter months, or the off-lay period may be short or long dependent, I would think, on the weather conditions at the time.

Not the best time to get a nuc this year - again a lottery with the weather. This season has not been so good since then with many reporting their bees as relying on stores for brooding and running short of stores.

I would suspect that once the apiguard treatment is completed they will feed her up and she will be back in business.

BTW, how are your mite drops? If there has been very little all the way through the 3 weeks early termination might be a possibility, but I would not advocate that course for someone else, especially a new beek.

Don't be sorry for a long post. Far better to have the information than a question which can only be amnswered by those with a crystal ball!

Get a magnifying glass for egg searching, start at the obvious 'next place for laying' after considering the brood nest temperatures and current brood positions. once mastered, you will likely then discard the glass unless you need a visit to specsavers!

She will normally restart at the centre of the brood nest, if there is no capped brood holding that space.

Regards, RAB
 

taff.. 

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one of my colonies went broodless when I was treating with Apiguard last year, it turned out there was a supercedure cell well hidden by the side of a frame side bar. once she was mated she started laying well :)
 

SimonB 

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Thankyou both for your prompt and reassuring replies.

Lateness of nuc was partly down to Thorne appearing to have recorded the order incorrectly and me being away most of July so unable to receive it.

Mite count drop I would say is quite low, somewhere between 30-50 in the first two weeks. Since the Apiguard tray is nearly empty I am tempted to terminate.

Would you recommend feeding of any sort to try to stimulate her?

I did try to make a thorough search for queen cells, found 3 play cups, all empty, but could well have missed something.

When I received the nuc there were small areas of drone brood, later on I don't recall seeing any, but both last week and this week I noticed maybe 20-30 drone brood, might this indicate some kind of intention?

Any reason to be concerned about the bald brood, or monitor to see if numbers increase?

Many thanks
Simon
 

MuswellMetro 

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Any reason to be concerned about the bald brood, or monitor to see if numbers increase?

Many thanks
Simon
i find thymol stops the laying on my Carnie X bees but not my Italian Mongrels

bald brood, as there is little if anything you can do now, if it is genetic so i would monitor the amount of bald brood

and also monitor the amount of moth faecal pellets on your OMF board

Also look under the OMF mesh and see if you have wax moth cocoons
 
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Polyanwood 

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What do moth faecal pellets look like? Got a photo please?
 

Erichalfbee 

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I've seen those little black specks when monitoring varroa. I thought they might be wax moth faeces. Once I found a small grub wiggling around in a silken cocoon. Thanks MM.
 

nelletap 

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I had my nuc on 31st July - similar timing to yours and I am in an adjacent county. It had more frames than normal (7). my queen stopped laying completely on the first apiguard treatment - she'd been prolific prior to that. Next inspection I saw larvae - no eggs so was still concerned but almost week after that she was back to normal. It was as if she needed time to get back fully into the swing of laying.
I would say the lack of eggs etc more likely due to Apiguard than absent queen without any further knowledge. The bald brood sounds a little more worrying. I hadn't seen my queen until last week; when you have a new nuc there are so many other things to do that as long as there is evidence the queen is laying you don't have the luxury of plenty of time to also look for the queen. I was so relieved to see her - with the help of my mentor.
I'll hope everything sorts itself out for you now the treatment is effectively finished. I cannot comment with much knowledge on the other aspects.
 

SimonB 

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Well that's a relief...

Inspected them just now and have 3 frames with uncapped larvae, some remaining capped brood and I spotted eggs for the first time, and lots of them. What I thought were large tranches of empty comb in the brood area each had a tiny egg in them so queenie looks to have been very busy. Surprisingly emotional :blush5:

There appear to be plenty of stores, but I guess these might dwindle more quickly now, but will leave them a while I think to build up before winter feeding as store levels if anything appear to be increasing so plenty of forage still here it seems.

Also quantity of bald brood seems to have reduced, but then so has relative quantity of capped brood, so will keep an eye on that.

Thanks for everyone's support, I think I may have panicked by now without the reassurance that nothing in fact might be wrong.
 
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