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What would you do, 3 Q- colonies

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Wingy 

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Ok, spent this morning removing supers and condensing colonies down to brood & 1/2 in readiness for winter at my allotment apiary.
I have 11 hives there mostly double brood & 2-3 supers each. I put all brood into1 box & add a super full of uncapped stores with 3-4 frames of drawn comb in the centre of the super for the Q to move up & lay, no QX of course
I found
1) No Q, no brood or eggs, hardly any stores in the brood boxes. Lots of bees & capped / uncapped honey in 3 supers above QX.
2) Q seen didn’t look mated, no eggs, very small amount of emerging brood. Bees had started filling brood area with uncapped stores. 1 super 1/2 full, 1 super untouched. I know this colony swarmed on 3/9/20
3) no brood or eggs, bottom brood box completely empty, 2nd brood box with stores, 2 x supers almost completely capped Q found dead.
So thoughts / suggestions please
Do I leave 2) & hope she gets mated, there are still a few drones around,
Do I combine 1 & 3 with a Q+ colony but this will make very large colonies
Do I throw them out and let them beg into other hives
Do I look at buying in a mated Q if there are any available
Any other ideas
Thanks
 

The Poot in Somerset 

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As three colonies, perhaps amalgamate as one, kill the unmated(?) queen and introduce a known mated queen???
 

beeno 

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I would assume they have all got an unmated queen in them which you need to get rid off before uniting to +Q colonies.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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A lot of wild assumptions being made here.
How do you know she isn't mated?
Haven't you heard of brood breaks?
the only one which may be a cert is the one you saw the dead queen in (but how do you now there's not another in there
 

madasafish 

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IF you have been treating with any thymol based treatment, that puts queens off lay..
 

Ping-Ping 

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As per Jenkins reply, you are making assumptions. The colonies sound lean enough to have put laying on hold.

If they have some or no stores and nothing coming in for over the last 3 weeks or so, they will have put the Q out of commission and all the last brood will have hatched.

I would be looking at the backs of the worker bees - are there any fluffy thoraxes of new bees versus polished backs of older bees? That's a quick ready-reckon of the age distribution and will tell you if the Q has been laying recently. Are the cells polished in a brood area? That sometimes suggests they know she can lay, but they are to conservative to get her going. If the bees are old looking, aimless, scattered through the hive and often out of sorts/more aggressive than usual, that's signs of queenlessness.

And then I would make a preliminary note of what I find, then feed to stimulate with good nosh - put drops of thyme oil and lemongrass in your 60%. Give them 4 days to fire up her afterburners plus a week, then check for eggs and grubs.

But I actually think that if you had blank Qs with a reason to lay, they would be laying patchy and drone. So I think your problem is that they have switched her off. Try and switch them back on or they won't overwinter.
 

Amari 

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Ok, spent this morning removing supers and condensing colonies down to brood & 1/2 in readiness for winter at my allotment apiary.
I have 11 hives there mostly double brood & 2-3 supers each. I put all brood into1 box & add a super full of uncapped stores with 3-4 frames of drawn comb in the centre of the super for the Q to move up & lay, no QX of course
I found
1) No Q, no brood or eggs, hardly any stores in the brood boxes. Lots of bees & capped / uncapped honey in 3 supers above QX.
2) Q seen didn’t look mated, no eggs, very small amount of emerging brood. Bees had started filling brood area with uncapped stores. 1 super 1/2 full, 1 super untouched. I know this colony swarmed on 3/9/20
3) no brood or eggs, bottom brood box completely empty, 2nd brood box with stores, 2 x supers almost completely capped Q found dead.
So thoughts / suggestions please
Do I leave 2) & hope she gets mated, there are still a few drones around,
Do I combine 1 & 3 with a Q+ colony but this will make very large colonies
Do I throw them out and let them beg into other hives
Do I look at buying in a mated Q if there are any available
Any other ideas
Thanks
Try a test frame in each hive - presumably an OK method even at this time of year?
 

Swarm 

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I wouldn't consider depleting others now.
 

thorn 

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Interestingly, last week I had two colonies without eggs or brood in any stage. Obviously queenless, thought I. What shall I do?
i gave myself a few days to think it through. I'm glad I did. There are Now loads of eggs in both hives. And I've spotted the queens.
Don't make your move too soon.
 
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Tim.S 

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The bees worst enemy? Mr Beekeeper.
Lack of stores and the time of year means patience is a virtue, one you can correct the other is self explanatory.
Oh lordy i'm sounding like finny!
 

nikca 

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Useful thread... and another proof of the maxim 2 beeks/3 opinions 😏
Drastic moves like uniting can wait Id day... and as you knew yourself (drones around)
 

Swarm 

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No. I don't like brood delving this late in the season. I certainly wouldn't do it this year, too many reports of queens shutting down. They need a good
 

Wingy 

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Ok guys, thanks for the advice. My plan moving forward will be
1) give it another week or 2, pick a good day & see if there are any signs of a Q in there. If not consider uniting with Q+ colony
2) give it another week or 2, and see if Q has come in to lay, fingers crossed.
3) the position I found the dead Q, trapped between the space between 2 frame lugs, Not squashed I’d say she was stuck there emitting pheromones long enough for all brood to become too old for the bees to produce supersedure or emergency Q cells. So 100% sure this is Q-. I will aim to unite with colony 1) or 2) from above should they prove to be ok.
Regards treatment putting Q’s off lay, I’ve not treated yet that’s this weeks job now all the supers are off. I use OA vape.
 

MuswellMetro 

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75% of hives inspected over the weekend only had only eggs 20% broodless and 5% (the smallest colonies) had capped brood...its a funny year, nectar flow stop early and so did the queens, we are now seeing queens come back into lay now we have ivy flowering here and ivy pollen is coming in by the bucket load
 

Kaz 

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Interestingly, last week I had two colonies without eggs or brood in any stage. Obviously queenless, thought I. What shall I do?
i gave myself a few days to think it through. I'm glad I did. There are Now loads of eggs in both hives. And I've spotted the queens.
Don't make your move too soon.
I've had this in 6 out of 8 colonies...! 😳
 

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