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Recent Inspection, Queen and Winter Bees

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Moggs 

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As the weather was warmer yesterday, I took the opportunity for a quick inspection and found masses of stores stacked away which was a good sign that the bees' winter preparation has gone well so far. I was a little surprised that the number of bees was quite so depleted (I have been used to seeing great masses of bees upon opening). Even upon lifting the frames, it was clear that the bees were 'thinned out'. No evidence of dead bees - but I know that they expire away from the hive. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed to see them in their winter state. Where have all my bees gone?! Good signs of continuing larval development and sealed winter brood so things would appear to be well (mostly).

However, apart from one hive, worryingly. The bees were clearly more agitated than normal. No signs of queen, eggs, larvae or sealed winter brood, though plenty of stores (and some pollen). I can't help but worry that this hive is Q-, which isn't good news at this time of year.

A bitter blow. I may have to revisit this in the week to determine a course of action. I think that I may have to requeen (though that won't be easy now) or unite. Even if I introduced a Q, I'm wondering whether there would be enough winter bees to go the distance (I doubt whether a new queen would get to work in these colder temperatures)? The colony appeared to be OK 3 weeks ago when I last opened the hive properly. I don't really want to have to combine as I wanted to run three colonies through the winter and they are otherwise strong and healthy.

Blessed bees have got a mind of their own! I seem to have been cursed with queen problems this year. Just when I thought it would be safe to put my feet up in front of the TV....

To add insult to injury (or vice versa) my once-willing beekeeping assistant was dealt a full-blown sting to the upper lip. Not a good weekend in the beekeepers' diary (though very effective for Trick or Treat callers).

As always, advice, comment, sympathy, etc, gratefully received :nopity:
 

oliver90owner 

Queen Bee
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Moggs,

Might it be a strain difference for the lack of brood? Some may stop brooding earlier than others (and, indeed, some brood far too long into the autumn!).

Most bees in the hive now will likely be winter bees, so if there is still brood to hatch, numbers may increase slightly (I don't know how many larvae are serviced per house bee).

Requeening is always a risk at this time of the year - the stock may die along with an expensive queen, even if the introduction is successful.

You could pop in a frame containing eggs/young brood from one of the other hives, even if only temporarily (providing health of both colonies is on a par), to try to ascertain Q+ or Q-. But unless the weather is good, that is further interference when the bees can do without it.

I would not wish to introduce another queen, or unite without being fairly certain there is not a queen there already.

I shall not be checking mine again for things like that. The winter will sort them out and spring will be time to start again. A much better time to be trying to sort things than at this time of the year, when failure just makes things that much worse.

Regards, RAB
 

Moggs 

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Thanks RAB. One thing that I must try to do is to overcome my paranoia and impulsiveness! It's the engineer in me that just won't let me leave things to nature. Of course, my earlier post didn't include what is probably the best option, leave the bees to sort it out (if there's anything to sort out in the first place). Your guidance appreciated.
 

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