Queenless? What ARE they up to?

Beekeeping Forum

Help Support Beekeeping Forum:

Stedic 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
230
Reaction score
0
Location
Leicester, UK
Hive Type
none
Thought it was simple lol.

Hive swarmed early May, out of nowhere as were never that strong and never worked a super. Cell left, queen mates, immediately they made cells. Knock them down, they made more in rainy weather. I couldn’t go in for 10 days - they had swarmed by then. Not ideal, but fortunately I’m in a remote area so swarms haven’t caused any issues.

New new queen was allowed to emerge and mate. After 3 weeks I found eggs and larvae...and charged cells. Knocked them down - same again next week. All capped brood was drone brood. I noticed that there were eggs, but still only on the two frames she had laid. Thought they may be queenless, so have a test frame. They drew two cells.

But, there are still eggs on the original two frames. All in drone cells. Are they queenless?

I wondered if the queen has laid a bit then died - will bees ignore eggs in drone cells if they don’t want drones? If queenless I will unite them - but I want to be sure that I’m not going to introduce a drone layer to a good hive.
 

Millet 

Queen Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Messages
9,142
Reaction score
10
Location
Co / Durham / Co Cleveland and Northumberland
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
17 nucs....
Be careful uniting until you are 100% certain you have no Queen..I had a hell of a job finding a drone layer last year..she was tiny..the same size as a worker luckily I spotted her.
 

thedozzer 

House Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 5, 2018
Messages
470
Reaction score
9
Location
Essex
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
just 2 Hives again
After one hive swarmed and left us with a piping queen, we thought we had either a drone layer or she died and had laying workers, as for about 3 weeks all we got was drone larvae, so we put a few test frames in over 2 weeks, and they drew QC but never a closed QC then weeks later we saw sealed worker brood, so we are not sure if the original queen took over a month to get her act together, or we had the fastest mated & laying queen ever, the little darlings do keep guessing sometimes!
 

Stedic 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
230
Reaction score
0
Location
Leicester, UK
Hive Type
none
Be careful uniting until you are 100% certain you have no Queen..I had a hell of a job finding a drone layer last year..she was tiny..the same size as a worker luckily I spotted her.
I'm at about 95%. I've looked for her, I've given them a test frame and I've given them time to change their minds. I presume they wouldn't have drawn QCs if they thought they had a queen.

The 5% doubt is the prescence of eggs in the two patches of drone cells. But, there are polished cells aplenty elsewhere in the hive so if she were laying anywhere I'm sure she would have laid in worker cells too.

I'm minded to combine them tomorrow.
 

Millet 

Queen Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2015
Messages
9,142
Reaction score
10
Location
Co / Durham / Co Cleveland and Northumberland
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
17 nucs....
I'm at about 95%. I've looked for her, I've given them a test frame and I've given them time to change their minds. I presume they wouldn't have drawn QCs if they thought they had a queen.

The 5% doubt is the prescence of eggs in the two patches of drone cells. But, there are polished cells aplenty elsewhere in the hive so if she were laying anywhere I'm sure she would have laid in worker cells too.

I'm minded to combine them tomorrow.
You still need to be sure..the bees will still polish cells for a drone layer or a laying worker/workers....in the past few years i have found two tiny Queens that have not been mated..and also worker layers as stated..
Personally i would not unite ..unless 100%...
 

thedozzer 

House Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 5, 2018
Messages
470
Reaction score
9
Location
Essex
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
just 2 Hives again
I'm at about 95%. I've looked for her, I've given them a test frame and I've given them time to change their minds. I presume they wouldn't have drawn QCs if they thought they had a queen.

The 5% doubt is the prescence of eggs in the two patches of drone cells. But, there are polished cells aplenty elsewhere in the hive so if she were laying anywhere I'm sure she would have laid in worker cells too.

I'm minded to combine them tomorrow.
Hi Stedic
As millet points out, you need to be sure they are Q-, as from some of the reading of previous posts on the forum when we had the problem, it can take up to 3-4 weeks of test frames with BIAS for the pheromones from the brood to suppress any laying workers, as if enough of the colony become laying workers the hive can get the sense that is queen-right, so wont produce QC's.
This is one of the links hivemaker posted about 7 years ago = http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
 

Stedic 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
230
Reaction score
0
Location
Leicester, UK
Hive Type
none
Hi Stedic
As millet points out, you need to be sure they are Q-, as from some of the reading of previous posts on the forum when we had the problem, it can take up to 3-4 weeks of test frames with BIAS for the pheromones from the brood to suppress any laying workers, as if enough of the colony become laying workers the hive can get the sense that is queen-right, so wont produce QC's.
This is one of the links hivemaker posted about 7 years ago = http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
I'm sure that there are no laying workers. All eggs I have seen are laid in the correct position in the cell and have been singular. The question is really whether there could be a dud queen sneaking about in there. The fact that she isn't laying anywhere obvious seems to rule that out. Just odd that there are eggs in drone cells, laid in a good pattern, but absolutely no where else.
 

eltalia 

Banned
Joined
Oct 21, 2017
Messages
763
Reaction score
0
Location
Lat.18S
Hive Type
tbh
Number of Hives
2
I'm sure that there are no laying workers. All eggs I have seen are laid in the correct position in the cell and have been singular. The question is really whether there could be a dud queen sneaking about in there. The fact that she isn't laying anywhere obvious seems to rule that out. Just odd that there are eggs in drone cells, laid in a good pattern, but absolutely no where else.
The _safest_ way out if this is to wait, she is laying so that's a start and in a few days
around drone cells - which could be at the bees direction, by the way - she may very
well fire up. I'd say wait another six days to then check.

I have to ask though if there is any history of such shenanigans in that line (genetics)
being used, given you are relying on local ferals?

Bill
 

thedozzer 

House Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jul 5, 2018
Messages
470
Reaction score
9
Location
Essex
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
just 2 Hives again
I'm sure that there are no laying workers. All eggs I have seen are laid in the correct position in the cell and have been singular. The question is really whether there could be a dud queen sneaking about in there. The fact that she isn't laying anywhere obvious seems to rule that out. Just odd that there are eggs in drone cells, laid in a good pattern, but absolutely no where else.
I do think that some queens start drone laying and for what ever reason take a while to start laying fertilised eggs? from the queens perspective its the best way to ensure her genes get first priority just in case something happens to her? and quite a few people say thay have had queens that start out drone laying and take some time to lay workers.

Ours drew QC's after 2 lots of test frames, but when we worked out timing for capped worker cells, we had a caped QC cell 1st June and capped worker brood by the 16th, so 11 days for capped worker brood, so she only had 5 days to emerge, mate and start laying!! we still wonder if there was a queen in the hive that took her sweet time.
 

beeno 

Queen Bee
Joined
Apr 25, 2011
Messages
5,181
Reaction score
231
Location
South East
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
5
I do think that some queens start drone laying and for what ever reason take a while to start laying fertilised eggs? from the queens perspective its the best way to ensure her genes get first priority just in case something happens to her? and quite a few people say thay have had queens that start out drone laying and take some time to lay workers.

Ours drew QC's after 2 lots of test frames, but when we worked out timing for capped worker cells, we had a caped QC cell 1st June and capped worker brood by the 16th, so 11 days for capped worker brood, so she only had 5 days to emerge, mate and start laying!! we still wonder if there was a queen in the hive that took her sweet time.
Of course there was. Patience is a virtue as Enrico always says!
 

Poly Hive 

Queen Bee
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
13,653
Reaction score
6
Location
Scottish Borders
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
9 and 18 Nucs
Yes it happens like that as egg laying is easy and needs no real control, that comes with learning to release one sperm per egg, which can take time.

PH
 

Stedic 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
230
Reaction score
0
Location
Leicester, UK
Hive Type
none
Ok, seems the consensus is that maybe, just maybe they may have a queen lurking. I’ll give them more time.

Should I destroy the newly capped queen cells that are on the test frame?
 

beeno 

Queen Bee
Joined
Apr 25, 2011
Messages
5,181
Reaction score
231
Location
South East
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
5
Ok, seems the consensus is that maybe, just maybe they may have a queen lurking. I’ll give them more time.

Should I destroy the newly capped queen cells that are on the test frame?
I would not in those circumstances.
 

Stedic 

House Bee
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
230
Reaction score
0
Location
Leicester, UK
Hive Type
none
Thanks for all the advice.

I’ve united (with newspaper) this colony and one which is 100% queenless. I left the two cells they had started. Once they are united I will start adjusting the supers. Plan is to see if this odd box sorts itself out. If it does then I can shuffle frames to rid myself of another 14x12 box. If it doesn’t then they should at least be stronger and ready to make it work for a new queen.
 

Latest posts

Top