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3 months - Requeen? - Newtown, Sydney

Hi from a very warm Sydney! Its been a busy few weeks and I’ve not had time to update on progress. In a nutshell:

  • 9 weeks (Feb 1) - found the brood box was honeybound with 4 full frames of capped honey, and larger than normal arcs of honey on the other frames. Removed the 2 outermost frames and replaced with foundationed frames 2 frames in from the sides. Flow super finally had a little nectar stored in 2 centre frames, but minimal.

  • 11 weeks (mid feb) - frames both drawn out and lots of pollen stores as well as honey. Brood still looked good with eggs, larvae and capped brood. Still minimal honey in the flow super so crushed burr comb pieces into the frames as per suggestions on here.

Now at 13 weeks (Mar 1) - Lots of activity at entrance as a lot of flowering trees in the neighbourhood. Then i went into the brood box, and that’s where I realised we had a problem.

The new frames were full of honey and pollen returning the hive to 4 full frames of honey and large arcs of honey on the reamaining frames. Then in inspecting each frame closely:

  • 2 little patches of eggs on both sides of Frame 4
  • 2 small patches of larvae on frame 5 and
  • VERY small amount of capped brood on Frame 5 and 6.
  • didn’t spot the queen, but i have difficulty finding her even when she’s marked well :slight_smile:

So i removed 1 of the honey frames from the outside and inserted another foundation frame 2 frames in, so they could draw it out and hopefully give the queen room IF in fact she was in there.

Yesterday I called in mentor for advice/help in spotting the queen. She found her straight away on Frame 4, she looked fine except that her left wing would randomly extend every so often.

and also spotted a capped supercedure cell which we broke open to find 2 eggs.

Suggested the ladies were putting so much honey and pollen in because the queen wasn’t laying properly, and the supercedure cell meant they had started to replace her. We moved one of the newly replaced frames (from my last inspection that was remarkably already over half drawn out) close to the existing egg frame, to give the queen room.

Also, the ladies had removed the small amount of nectar from the flow frames. My mentor messaged that sometimes the ladies just don’t take to the flow frames for quite some time. So she suggested i put an ideal super on while there appears to be a flow so they can draw out the frames and hopefully move some of the brood honey stores up. I thought as per your thought @Dawn_SD, of putting the
ideal above the flow super so they need to pass through it…they may take to it if they fill the ideal.

  • *Is it strange to have 2 eggs in the supercedure cell? laying worker?
  • Should i wait a few days and check to see if she’s laid eggs in the newly drawn cells or should i just try and source a new queen now?
  • Put the ideal on or not?

Your experience, opinions and suggestion are always thoroughly appreciated.

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Hi Rob,
Just some of my thoughts, and many beekeepers around Sydney are reporting a poor nectar flow at the moment. Though the paperbarks have just started to flower so we should see a change soon, I hope.

[quote=“Ropate, post:1, topic:21183”]

    • Is it strange to have 2 eggs in the supersedure cell? laying worker? [/quote]
      I’ll be honest, I have not seen this before. Was there only a single supersedure cell? Could be a worker. If the bees were planning to replace her then I would expect a number of queen cells to be drawn out, however it could be very early in their decision process.

[quote=“Ropate, post:1, topic:21183”]

  • Should i wait a few days and check to see if she’s laid eggs in the newly drawn cells or should i just try and source a new queen now?
    I would. use a head torch or a bright sunny day, and look for a good consistent laying pattern in the new cells. [/quote]

[quote=“Ropate, post:1, topic:21183”]

  • Put the ideal on or not?
    I am personally not an ‘ideal’ fan but I get why people use them. For me in Sydney, I keep all my frame and box sizes the same so the brood and honey frames can be moved/cycled through the super and out of the hive. With a Flow super on top, what did you do with the honey frames?

Chances are that when you replaced the honey frames with foundation frames, the bees needed to consume a lot of the honey stores to draw out the new wax, I am guessing that they then moved the honey/nectar from the Flow back down into the brood box. The bees will take to the Flow when there is an excess nectar flow, rubbing some wax on the Flow frames will certainly help them to acclimatise themselves to the frames. I agree with @Dawn_SD ad would place the honey frames in a new box up above the Flow super, I would also be tempted to score those frames OR decap them. Being up so high will trigger the bees to bring the honey back down and they may just store this in the Flow frames. Never an exact science but certainly worth a try.

Something else to note is the very warm weather, if your bees are not a strong population then they may not be capable of bringing in the excess nectar needed to store in a super, and another thing, nectar dries up in the flowers quickly on these warm days so unless your bees to get to it before it evaporates they will be bringing in pollen and water instead of nectar.

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Hi Robert, I haven’t seen a queen cell with two eggs in it before but seeing is proof. The colony may be thinking to replace the queen, maybe her wing is damaged and she could not fly when the time comes for swarming. I am also seeing the cell is dry so maybe the bees saw the error. Normally a queen will be productive in egg laying for up to 3 years and then a tapering off of brood will indicate a new queen is something to look forward to.
I would add a super, or ideal, above the QX and below the Flow Super, you should be building up honey stores for the bees over winter. I think you added the Flow Super to early as I advised at the time, I think you took your eye off the ball and in the first season is to build the bee numbers up and for them to have enough honey for their need over the next winter, given the mild winter you have you will still have a leaner time then.
Cheers mate

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Its been the same here with nothing in flower except for all the Newtown and Camperdown garden flowers, but the paperbark is coming up as you say, plus the fiddle wood and many others have been going now for a couple of weeks. Other Eucalypti here and in the Sydney Uni grounds are all close to flowering.

I’ve been trying to keep a little photo diary with plant info researched online. The photos store GPS so i remember where they are. Anyone in the area want to contribute to it, feel free. :slight_smile:

Yes. So i might go in on Saturday and if no new eggs then should I look for a new queen? Just conscious its quite late and i may have trouble.

I am the same, for cosmetic purposes as well as for the fact that i have no extraction equipment and not planning on going down that path. Yet. :wink: I figure, collecting comb from the ideals would give us some great gifts if they eventually start storing in the flow and the ideal.

From the first 2 in Feb, stored one and cut one up to eat. It was GORGEOUS. This last one was added to the other one in the deep freeze. Now have 2 stored in there in case i need to put it back in should there be a dearth.

I actually melted some wax down and painted it randomly on each frame about a month ago as per @Dawn_SD very helpful suggestion. This was when they started to store in the center frames. I didn’t have much wax, so didn’t get to all frames.

Then saw a video of Cedar from Flow pushing burr comb chunks into the frames, so did that last weekend into the remaining unwaxed FF. This has got the girls up in there for sure now from what i can see in the side window.

Noted! They are busy from first light it seems, busier than midday it would seem, so hopefully they are getting something before the heat hits around 11. Given the lack of capped brood etc, i expect the population will drop dramatically unless the queen starts laying again or i get a new queen!

:slight_smile: glad to be able to show you then…

of course, true. nothing in there at all and it as completely sealed.

I’m not sure of her age to be honest, given the process of receiving the NUC back in NOV. She has been good up until the last few weeks, so maybe she took a break? I mean that many eggs every day, at some point you just need a cup of tea and a lie down, no?

I kick myself every couple of days. Patience!! I’m learning it with the ladies. :slight_smile:

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I know it is hard to be patient so I always remember in those times, a bee in its life will bring nectar the size of a match head back to the hive. It takes about a thousand bee lives on average to make one teaspoon of surplus honey. Sometimes we expect too much from such small insects. You are doing better than you think you are.
Cheers Robert

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You have had some excellent advice from others above, and I won’t re-iterate it. However, I do have a comment. You say this:

But you also say this:

That is very problematic for me for several reasons.

  1. A cell is never capped with unhatched eggs in it, if the bees are serious about making a viable bee.
  2. A true queen cell will always have a fat larva in it. It is capped when the queen larva is about 8 days old
  3. Every capped queen cell that I have ever opened has both a grub and royal jelly in it. Royal jelly is put in by the nurse bees as soon as the egg hatches. The larva needs to be fed every day until it is large enough for the cell to be capped. They never leave unfed eggs in a sealed cell. By the way those eggs are angled, I would guess that they are 2-3 days old. Far too soon for capping.

Very odd observation. Maybe you have alien bees! :smile: :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :rofl:

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A rookie observation :slight_smile:

The cell was definitely closed and much larger than all others. When it was opened we saw the 2 eggs in there.

I’m assuming it was a supercedure cell, could it be something else? Also confused why it was closed with just eggs, and why there were 2 in there

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That was a very odd discovery, Rob! One for the record books I’d think.

I appreciated reading your updates and everyone’s advice. The other part of your story that stood out for me was your mentor being so dismissive of the Flow frames instead of giving you the very simple & constructive advice of putting wax on them (as you ended up doing more of).

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@Ropate The mentor hasn’t caught up with developments over recent years. When you mention Flow Hives they go very quiet or just rubbish the concept without first hand knowledge instead of saying they haven’t enough knowledge on the subject.
As the double egg cell was a one off I would put it down as a mystery, Double eggs are generally made by a laying worker but that doesn’t explain why it was a dry cell. I doubt we will ever know the answer.
Actually I would look for a local bee group or find another mentor who accepts Flow Hives are here to stay.
Cheers

ok, have obviously made an incorrect observation. :grimacing:

Separate to this, if anyone can advise on the need to requeen? Is it just that she’s slowed down late in the season? in your experience, is this common and will she start laying better?

I ask because if you think i should be requeening, this late in the season with a lack of any significant brood and new young nurse bees, would the older bees in the brood attack a new queen?

I wasn’t clear, i suppose. She was with me when i brushed the melted wax on in early January and saw my more recent burr comb crushed into the frames. She has a Flow Hive herself, so i might have been unfair in how i portrayed her through my quick summary.

In fact, the large chunks of burr comb have been redistributed quite well already in just a few days on the outside frame i can see through the window. still a bit to go but they look to be using it to complete the flow cells

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Your hive is still building up and there is no reason to re-queen in the first year. Early next Spring is the optimal time to do a split and begin another hive.
In hot weather the Queen will be held back in egg production, the trees will reduce nectar and the bees will respond to that. With the recent hot weather up here there is a marked reduction of honey production.
Cheers Rob, and relax,

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Thanks Peter, all noted. I was used to seeing a lot of larvae and capped brood in previous inspections and panicked when i found virtually nothing. So this isn’t a reason to freak out then!

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I agree with @Peter48, I wouldn’t requeen just yet. Your bees are also doing a great job with the wax. I am a paediatrician, and from my experience, I can tell you that being a new beekeeper is like being a first time new parent. Everything is worrying all the time. That is normal, and a good sign that you really care. However, you really don’t need to worry so much.

Bees survived for many millions of years on their own before human beings came along. Chances are, if you don’t do enough, they will thrive. If you do too much, you may mess up their plans. If you are seeing eggs, you have a laying queen. Around 20 to 21 days after those eggs were laid, you will have thousands of new bees. Just give it time. :wink:

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Very eloquently said Dawn, I have seen as many hives struggling from meddling ‘parents’ as I have seen struggling from neglect. Be keepers should by all means do inspections of the colonies, but not daily as some seem to think. I have read that each 20 minutes the hive is disrupted cost the colony about 6 hours in setting them backwards.
I am even changing my inspection after 45 years of doing the same thing, I was 7 days apart for checking the supers and every second week I would go further and check the brood box as well. Now if a full inspection tells me there is no issues I put that hive back a further week before a full inspection. I never open a hive to ‘just to see how they are going’,
The time saved will be spent on Lysa’s hives that I am now caring for at my apiary.
Cheers

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