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Moggs 

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An inspection this morning has confirmed my earlier suspicions. One of my Nationals has exhibited Q problems for a while. A brief history:

28th August - increasing drone brood noticed and found queen with damaged lower abdomen segment. Saw single queen cell that had been torn down.
3rd September - requeened (but could not find damaged queen, despite best efforts and a thorough sieving of bees). Bees seemed to accept new queen although of course I cannot be 100% certain that the colony was Q- at this point (a chance that the damaged Q was still there despite my thorough search).
7th September - bees bad tempered. Thymolised syrup put on (insult to injury as Apiguard on too).
13th September - bees depleted in number (suspect that new queen had absconded with half of the colony possibly due to thymol reaction). Syrup not touched.
21st September - final Apiguard tray removed. Some drone brood and mostly depleted combs seen.
25th September - thymolised syrup replaced with standard syrup solution (none of the colonies have taken thymolised, probably due to concurrent Apiguard treatment - which may not have been advisable).
26th September - (closer inspection). Standard (no thymol) syrup hardly touched (other colonies moving large quantities of pure syrup added on the 25th). Frames generally depleted. Spotty drone brood. No queen or eggs seen but a few larvae (only about 6) size to fill base of cell in healthy 'c' shape. Bees shaken into empty brood box and QE fitted with original BB on top to try to isolate any queen.

There are no visible multiple eggs in cells (ELW). Varroa drop has been very light before and after Apiguard. No evidence of disease.

A number of scenarios are going through my mind.

Replacement queen rejected.

Replacement queen absconded leaving an unnoticed virgin (since unmated due to lateness of season and not laying well).

No queen - (egg laying workers).

A combination of the above.

I wouldn't contemplate trying a frame of eggs at this time of year - it would only serve to prove Q- and it's clearly too late to raise a Q.

My current plan is to see if a Q is present under the QE later today and if not, start uniting with another colony.

Your comments appreciated.
 

JamesB 

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Is your Queen marked?

Anyway apart from your own suggestions, ive read here somewhere that treatments cause the queen to suspend egg laying for a short period of time,

Maybe thats the reason, maybe possibly hoping im not making a foolish suggestion (puts on the flame retardent bee suit in case)
 

oliver90owner 

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Moggs,

I wouldn't contemplate trying a frame of eggs at this time of year - it would only serve to prove Q- and it's clearly too late to raise a Q.

Why not? It might demonstrate Q- which would mean not having to search for something not there. Nothing to do with raising a new queen - of which it is often not a good idea anyway - even at earlier times in the season. I only do it if I am planning on changing that queen later, by whatever means. Those with only one colony have less choice.

Regards, RAB
 

Moggs 

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Hi James and Rab. Thanks for the advice.

Rab, I've been deliberating on the frame of eggs and it has been rumbling around in my head because I know that this would have been the 'right' thing to do.

I suppose that I was avoiding it due to time and inconvenience. Anyway it has proved to be academic now...

Tonight I found the queen bimbling around under the QE with a handful of drones. It was the original damaged queen, with a squished lower segment. My new queen either took off or was rejected. Was she likely to have taken bees in an exodus? I understand that this would not be normal but what if they knew that the original was a dud?

The colony is chewing its way through newspaper as I type.

Never a dull moment. I'm quite pleased that I got to the root of the matter as this was troubling me. Strengthens colonies for wintering I suppose.

One more worry. My united colony is about ten paces from the original site. What will happen when they free themselves? I'm hoping that they will orientate to the new location and not drift back to one of the other two hives.
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Pop a frame of brood with eggs in the hive to prove if you have a queen or not. Then pop the frame back in the hive it came from if that's what you want to do. It's not a 1-way process. The colony can just look after the children for a few days - like a child minder.
 

JamesB 

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tbh i wouldnt worry to much about the position of the hive, the only ones that may make a landing where the hive was would be the ones on the wing going back to the hive :)

Anyway good knews you found the cause etc
If theres any emergency messing about to do , now would be the last chance as weather down my neck of the woods is sporadic but getting colder
 

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