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What has happened to my brood!

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Dewin Dwl 

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Last week I was gifted a small colony. Some varroa on inspection so hauled out drones and added a little chemistry. During this inspection the hive was quietly getting on with business, evidence of brood etc. A week later I went to prepare to collect the colony/hive to bring it home. Had a look-see and the bees were cranky, aggressive and seemed disorganised. The brood was nowhere, replaced with a random distribution of honey & pollen and brace comb in strange places. No evidence of queen cells, only some half dozen old looking cups.

Took them home, very carefully shook swarmed into new brood box with clean foundation, some part drawn from another healthy hive. Queen excluder at bottom, crownboard topped with feeder. Two days later, feed being taken, bee behaviour still seems a little disorganised and aggressive/roaring, comb drawn but randomly used for storing honey & pollen. Can't see any eggs, no obvious region being cleared for egg-laying. I have not seen a queen but the general behaviour of the bees charging about doesn't help.

Any suggestion of what is going on? :confused:

My thought is to place a test-frame in over the weekend and see what it indicates. I'd like some suggestions of what may have led to this situation from an OK small colony to something a little grim!

Cheers
 

mbc 

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apiguard may have put the queen off lay and totally confused the bees with its pervasive smell or if you oxalic dribbled theres a chance it killed the queen - my advice would be to give them a test frame of eggs and young brood and see what they do
 

Dewin Dwl 

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Apiguard was used: interesting influence!
Now they are housed in new hive with new everything with some clean part drawn comb a corner may be turned.

Looks like test frame for Saturday afternoon and wait.

Cheers!

This was my 0.4 colony!
 

winmag270 

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not saying anymore in case SWMBO reads this... ;o)
might it be easier to unite it with one of your other colonies?
 

Dewin Dwl 

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Sounds much too sensible an idea! I must admit I'd like to see test-frame used etc.

By the way, I wrote some rubbish earlier, Apistan was used. Would that have a similar confusing influence as Apigaurd?
 
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Hebeegeebee 

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I can't comment on apistan is it is no good in my part of the world.
Maybe you just crushed the queen when you had a first look at the colony?
Did you have brood at all stages when you first looked i.e. eggs larvae and capped brood?
I don't know what you mean by brace comb in strange places.....
 

Dewin Dwl 

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One strip of Apistan was used due to size of colony. The brood was in good condition, nice mix of brood stages and good pattern. It was in a conditon that had we crushed the queen I'd have anticipated some queen-cells to have appeared.

So one day all appeared orderly, a few days later its in a peculiar condition. The brace comb was bridging between comb faces where it had not been the week before. (I'll admit my first thought was "who has swapped a good'n for this mess"!)
 

Dewin Dwl 

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It wasn't a nuc, was a small but vital colony. Mind you that does suggest something about its 'power' or 'influence'.

I'll fit a test-frame and see what gives then report back.

(the bees have probably sorted it all out whilst I'm here bothering everyone!)
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Maybe then, you were given the wrong colony??
 
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Sounds like they are queenless and have no brood to raise a new one. The test frame may be their only hope.
 

mbc 

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brace comb is also a feature of hawthorn flows - timings about right
 

Mike a 

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off topic post removed.
 
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Midland Beek 

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Had a look-see and the bees were cranky, aggressive and seemed disorganised. The brood was nowhere, replaced with a random distribution of honey & pollen and brace comb in strange places. No evidence of queen cells, only some half dozen old looking cups.
You have picked up all the right signs but you have not yet presumed what these things are indicating.

THEY'VE SWARMED!!!!

Have a re-think in respect of those things you refer to as 'some half dozen old looking cups'. These might well have been the remains of the queen cells.

The correct advice would have been not to mess around with this colony becasue the assumption is that there is a virgin queen in there who wants to get on with the business of having sex and homemaking.

A test frame will put you right though.
 

Dewin Dwl 

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Test frame inserted. I was starting to think more along the lines of post-swarm virgin in the hive. The hive is a lot calmer so I'm wondering how long it takes for a virgin queen becoming impregnated and starting to assert control & order through her pheromones? is it hour or days? Similarly, how long before laying kicks-in, even if its a little hit and miss in the first few hundreds?

Anyway, time is the ally and I'm off on leave so I'll leave it to those who know.....the bees.
 

Dewin Dwl 

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I'm back off my hols and the test frame has sprouted half a dozen emergency QCs. So it looks like the colony had become queenless by some mechanism. My new worry is whether there will be drones about to mate with the resultant virgin queen or am I too late in the year?

Fascinating experience! I have a mate who has also started this year but with a healthy nuc. That route is definitely a more efficient starting point but not half the experience by this "The Grumpy" colony!

Will an adequate virgin queen emerge? Will the drones be available and perform? Will the colony recover ready for autumn? Will the resulting genetics provide a nice or nasty colony? The education continues............
 

susbees 

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Drones in all my colonies near Monty. The nice or nasty is a bit of a lottery with open mating of mixed subspecies.

They aren't emergency cells as such as the larvae had the chance to be the right age to make a good queen if fed right (test frame was of eggs...?). Assume you knocked down all but the best open cell with larva or two sealed on the same frame? You don't really want a war of the virgins OR a series of castes....
 

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