Requeening after a long time of being queenless

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jbr 

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I did an artificial swarm about 5 weeks ago, the old queen was seen 4 weeks ago but not since, no eggs either. I reunited both halves of the swarm at this point assuming a new queen would be raised and mated. This did not go to plan and I had the hive with no queen in for 4 weeks. I ordered a new queen as soon as I knew the hive was queenless, but it has taken until today to be sent.

Question: Can I add the queen in the normal way or is there a better way, bearing in mind that they have been queenless for so long (4 weeks).
 

RoofTops 

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You could split off 2 or 3 frames and put them in a nuc and introduce the queen to that then combine with the main colony. If you wanted to be doubly, sure after adding the candy to the cage don't break the tags off but introduce the queen in the sealed cage and only break the tags off after a couple of days or so. This will increase the time for the bees to get used to her.

An alternative would be to give them a frame of sealed brood from another hive, less any bees, and introduce the queen in one of those special cages which fit over the sealed brood (you may have to make your own out of mesh). The emerging young bees will accept the queen as they know no other and after a few days when enough have emerged the cage is removed if the bees haven't already dug under it to release her.
 

Onge 

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Two of my hives showed no sign of eggs 3.5 weeks after the virgin emerged, then suddenly they were laying up fine.

So maybe give it another week. If you can get hold of a frame of eggs to test if they are queen right or not, that would help a lot. if they make queen cells you can knock them off and introduce the queen using the nuc method as Rooftops advises.

Another case for having two hives to start with.

Hope this helps.
 
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jbr 

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How long from putting a test frame with eggs in to them making queen cells?
 

RoofTops 

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If there are no QCs after 3 or 4 days then the larva will be too old. If they don't produce QCs during this time then there is probably a queen in there so don't introduce your new queen until you find her.

I suggest the nuc approach. Take 3 frames and examine them minutely for a queen - she might be small with a pointy body. The only clue might slightly longer legs. Introduce your new queen to this queenless nuc after say 24 hours and leave the rest of the colony to their own devices for the moment.

The problem is the hive might have a queen which can't fly or is unable to mate for some reason. You have to find and remove her before you can unite the nuc with your new queen to the original colony. I would be tempted to sieve the bees though a queen excluder.
 

jbr 

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ok, possibly daft question, but assuming I go for introducing the queen into a nuc, what is the best way of uniting with the rest of the colony after a while (pressumably after a week or two)? I know the newspaper method for uniting two brood boxes, but this assumes the boxes are the same size, so how about a small nuc and a national BB?
 

Poly Hive 

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Same principle for different sizes but use a piece of scrap plywood to marry up the two sizes. Cut it to the big one but make a hole in the middle to allow access from the little one.

PH
 

jbr 

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2nd stupid question....

If I place frames from the origional hive into a nuc box, then introduce queen into that, won't the bees just return to their origional BB? Therefore nuc box needs to be put 3 miles away from BB? My garden is about 200m long, can I just move the nuc to the other end of the garden? Presumably not.
 

Poly Hive 

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Nope.

Make up nuc, stuff with grass, entrance that is and leave for three days.

Works for me, 19 times so far this year. ;)

PH
 

Poly Hive 

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However before buying a queen for this famously long term queenless colony is it ACTUALLY queenless.

Needs checking.

PH
 

Midland Beek 

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You can unite in the same hive by fitting newspaper vertically in box.

You get laying workers in a colony that has been queenless for a good while.

If there is a queen in there, it will start to lay eggs at some point.
 

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