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Queenless Hive - don't want a new queen?

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House Bee
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I'm currently having problems with one of my hives - well I think its a problem and was looking for some experienced beekeepers to comment :)

I had a supersedure cell in the hive at the end of April - I moved the old queen out to a nucleus box to let the bees get on with it (previous supersedure attempts had been stopped by her).

The queen cell showed signs of hatching successfully, but 15 days later, there was no sign of egg-laying. To check things out, I added a frame of eggs from a second hive, but these were left untouched.

Around 27 days after she hatched I had swarm preparations in my second hive, so I transferred in a queen cell (uncapped, with larvae) to see what they would do. Today (4 days later) its been torn down, but there's still no sign of egg laying.

My assumption is that I have an virgin (or faulty) queen in the hive who doesn't want to start egg laying, but also is doing enough to keep the hive happy, and not try to supersede. The bees are flying well, and there's plenty of pollen and nectar coming in, and plenty of laying space, so its not that she's waiting for conditions to improve. I've been told that a queen can't mate more than 20 days after hatching, so I'm worried it could be the former.

Any idea on what action to take? Should I just wait it out and hope she'll figure out what to do? Should I take drastic action and try and find her and dispose of her?

Any comments greatly appreciated!
 

jimbeekeeper 

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The queen cell showed signs of hatching successfully, but 15 days later, there was no sign of egg-laying. !
Things very rarely work like clock-work or what the book says!

Weather has been rubbish, so that is a main factor.

It sound like you have a virgin in there waiting to be mated, but as you say the 20 days is approching.

I would still wait a few more days with the weather improving to see what happens.
 

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House Bee
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The weather here (south Scotland) has been pretty good - and we've had at least 5 days where there's been 7 or 8 hours of sunshine in which she could have mated. There are also definitely drones flying in and out of all the hives, so there's plenty of them for her to mate with.

Its now past 31 days (queen cell was put in at 27), so I'm worried she's still unmated and is now 'past her prime'. I'd leave it for another week or so, except I'm not sure that will actually do anything useful...
 

Hebeegeebee 

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I've got virgins that are 3 weeks + since emerging. A nice arc of stores, polished cells. No eggs (yet!) Will put in a test frame this weekend to see what happens. I am hopeful that all will become right v soon!

Patience is a virtue they say. 3 weeks seems like 3 months!
 

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House Bee
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Just an update on whats happening with this hive...

The new queen did eventually start laying - some time around the 27th of May - so she was obviously leaving it late! There were many play cells in the hive though, so I moved the frames around to give her more space to lay (the workers had started to fill the brood space with honey).

Yesterday I inspected again and found a capped supersedure cell again - slap bang in the middle of one of the frames. I could also hear the queen quacking away in a corner of the box, but couldn't find her to see what state she was in.

Now I'm not sure what the best option is - do I let them supersede from this new egg - or is an egg from a dodgy queen, who in turn came about from supersedure in the same year, a bad idea? Or should I bring in fresh eggs from a 'known good' queen instead?
 

admin 

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You have a shed load of variables there Match.

If I was in your position not knowing what the hell they were upto I would leave alone for now with the attitude of "The bee's know best" and see what transpires.

Then act if things dont work out.
 

match 

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If I was in your position not knowing what the hell they were upto I would leave alone for now with the attitude of "The bee's know best" and see what transpires.
.
Yep - thats what I'm doing... the new queen hasn''t been out all that long, so if they're superseding they obviously think she's not up to the job. I'm leaving them alone to give the supersedure queen time to mate, and then will go and see what they're up to.

The way I see it - one of three things can happen:

1) The new queen hatches, takes over and all is well.
2) The old queen kills off the new one, the bees try to supersede again.
3) The old queen kills off the new one, and the bees don't supersede.

1 would be ideal. If I see 2, then I know the whole line is 'faulty' and can bring in eggs from a different hive.

I won't easily be able to tell the difference between 1 and 3 (unless the queen cell is obviously attacked from the side) - but if the worst comes to the worst I can always throw in some eggs from a different hive and get a 'known-good' lineage going.
 

jon 

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so if they're superseding they obviously think she's not up to the job.
Match:
Have a browse through this.
Roger Patterson has been banging this drum for several years now.

http://www.wgbka.org.uk/WGBKAdocs/QM Leaflet.pdf

I inspected a friends bees today. His new queen started laying on 1st June and I caught and marked her the same day.
I checked today and she was gone leaving a single supersedure cell and about half the bees.
There were eggs, larvae and sealed brood.

That means supersedure must have started around 5 days after the queen started laying.
Something ain't right.
 

admin 

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Was that not a swarm cell if half the bee's have gone ?
 

jon 

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This was a nuc with about 3 frames of bees and a queen which had just started laying. Under normal circumstances, a new laying queen does not produce swarm cells within a fortnight of starting to lay.
Swarming on a supersedure cell is one of the problems RP has been trying to highlight.
 

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