What to do when we suspect our colony is queenless

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Dicklinda 

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We have 4 hives, three have brood (2 on double brood boxes and the other on single brood plus a super) and they are busy bringing in lots of pollen when the weather permits. The other colony has no brood and has been very active in the hive since January (it has a clear perspex crown board). When we take off the lid the bees run about very actively under the crown board and when we did an inspection a few days ago there was still no sign of the queen or any brood but there are still a lot of bees in the hive and they are taking in some pollen. We are relatively new to bees (3rd season) and are unsure what to do, our other colonies all have last years (blue) queens and are reasonably strong. Should we assume this hive is definitely queenless and try to combine it with one (or two) of the other colonies, or is this just going to make them too strong and encourage them to swarm. It is very early to get a mated queen up here and we are quite happy to only have 3 hives anyway. Any suggestions would be most welcome
 

Erichalfbee 

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Test frame.
Take a frame with eggs and young brood from one if your other colonies. Shake all the bees off and put it in the suspect one. Mark it. Have a look 3 to 5 days later.
If they are queen less the bees will make emergency queen cells.
If they have a queen they will simply cap the brood
Often a frame of brood can kick start a reluctant queen too.
 

jeff33 

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Never assume a colony is queenless, it can only lead to mayhem!! Test frame is the bare minimum you should do.
 

ericbeaumont 

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is this just going to make them too strong and encourage them to swarm
Strength does not = swarming.

Strength fulfils the needs of a colony and the beekeeper should go with it. Swarming is usually caused by insufficient laying space (esp. now), declining pheromone from an ageing queen or her genetic disposition; all three factors are within the hands of the beekeeper to change.
 

Dicklinda 

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thanks for the input, will need to wait on a channge in teh weather, frosty with snow showers at present!
 

oliver90owner 

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Sometimes you need more than one to complicate matters

Usually only when there are laying workers.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Sometimes you need more than one to complicate matters

Usually only when there are laying workers.
I helped my mentor make up my first ever nuc. It was a simple split ( not a way I would do it these days but that was then)
She had to add frames of eggs three times before they made queen cells and we KNEW they were queen less
 

enrico 

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This may help a little!
 

jeff33 

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I helped my mentor make up my first ever nuc. It was a simple split ( not a way I would do it these days but that was then)
She had to add frames of eggs three times before they made queen cells and we KNEW they were queen less
They must have been French, dead against royalty!!🤣
 

tonyofarr 

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I found a small dark virgin queen running around a hive 2 days ago on my third attempt to search for her in the last few weeks. There was no brood in the hive at all but I could see the remains of a hatched q cell. I have now combined this colony with a queenright one using the newspaper method.
 

oliver90owner 

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Able to get through a queen excluder? If not use one to find her, next time you have trouble as above.
 

citrus 

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Test frame.
Shake all the bees off and put it in the suspect one.

Dani qq here -if you leave a few nurse bees on it .... what happens to them .... didnt want to do tooooo much shaking so I have a test frame in mine a few stragglers remained (bee brush deep in the garage to my shame)
 

citrus 

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This may help a little!
Hi so the test cell ... they have created queen cells .... so confirmation then ...which is a shame. So should I give them some fresher eggs or let them build a set and check in 10days and cull/pick the best looing q cell to progress ?
 

Erichalfbee 

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Hi so the test cell ... they have created queen cells .... so confirmation then ...which is a shame. So should I give them some fresher eggs or let them build a set and check in 10days and cull/pick the best looing q cell to progress ?
I’d leave them all. Let the bees decide. They shouldn’t swarm on emergency cells.
 

Boston Bees 

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I’d leave them all. Let the bees decide. They shouldn’t swarm on emergency cells.
This rang a bell from a few days ago, so I wondered, and ...

People will tell you that bees don’t swarm on emergency cells. Mine did.
Sorry - couldn't resist. I agree with you really. But you know what they say about asking one beekeper and getting two opinions :)

(and I think the underlying situation was different for these comments too)
 
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