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Confusion after brood inspection - advice please


#1

Hello All

Quick back ground first:

Located in coastal central Queensland, Tannum sands.

New Nuc installed this winter 2018

Flow super installed September 20th 2018 after great bee population progress and nectar flow.

From sep - Nov 2018 I have noticed lots of new bees, orientation flights and wash boarding.

Inspection today 07/11/2018:

Flow Super:

  • No honey in flow super

  • Tones of bees in there though

  • Most of the flow comb cracks etc have been mended / prepared with wax or propolis.

Brood box frames:

  • Lots and lots of young bees

  • Medium amount of capped brood

  • More than normal empty very clean comb (where brood would normally be).

  • Good mix of brood and honey on outer frames

  • More than usual drone brood

  • No eggs sighted

  • About 10 empty queen cups

  • No queens sighted

  • Small amount of larvae like pic below (taken off the internet)
    image

  • One well-formed queen cell located on the most outer frame and the side edge. Frame has half honey/brood.

My confusion has me thinking:

  1. Is the colony preparing to swam?..(only one queen cell)

  2. Has my queen died or absconded? (Small amount of larvae and no eggs, however loads and loads of young bees.

  3. What do I do to this queen cell?

Sorry for no photos, I find it a bit tricky to get good pics when inspecting alone.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks


#2

Sounds like your hive may have swarmed. How often did you inspect it?

You may want to take a look at this link:


#3

Hi @Dawn_SD, I just updated my post, do you still think the same ? Thanks for the document. I have inspected about every 3-4 weeks


#4

swarm is quite likely. are you 100% sure there were no eggs? Did you see any larvae smaller than the ones pictured? If they were only the size pictured then all you can say for certian is there was a queen there 7 or so days ago. Until you confirm smaller larvae and/or eggs it’s all up in the air. You may have a virgin queen- or one just about to get started laying. You’ll have to check again soon to confirm what is going on.


#5

Hi @Semaphore… Thanks for the reply. Confirmed no eggs or smaller larvae than the ones pictured at this time. I was wondering about the time duration for the larvae to grow to the size pictured. which as you said would give me a time line for when the queen was still in the hive.

I agree I think I need to inspect in a few days or a week to see if new eggs are laid. So your thinking swarm has happened and I have inspected just after it has happened? but before the new queen has hatched or started laying ?

for some reason just after a swarm has happened I expected way less bees in the colony as it appears still very strong and also thought there would be more queens cells. I thought I would have more time to be concerned about a swarm considering this is the first spring season for the colony, and with a empty flow super on top thought I’d be ok until next year…

I appreciate you thoughts, cheers


#6

It’s hard to say- and I don’t have enough experience. I had one hive swarm last year and it failed to leave behind good queen cells and the hive ended up queenless. It seems to me that if your hive did swarm it must have happened within the last 9 days or so- and those larvae you see were the last the queen left. If she left some good queen cells- theoretically they could have hatched any day over the last 9 days. If things were done properly you should have seen at least some evidence of those fully formed queen cells? But it’s possible queen/s hatched and the cells were torn down and removed.

So there is a chance you have a young queen- and she could even be out on mating flights right now- today. I would expect that you should see some eggs within 10 days at the latest? If you don’t then perhaps the bees screwed up- and you might need to re-queen- or get a frame with eggs on it so the bees can make a new queen.

If you have access to a frame with eggs you could add that right away: if the bees need a queen they should start making one- of not they will just look after the brood.

if you need to requeen I can recommend a lovely mail order golden Italian queen from Mulder Apiaries in NSW assuming they have queens already…

This kind of chart is very useful in determining where bees are at- especially with queen making timelines:

http://blogs.evergreen.edu/terroir-zack/life-cycle-of-the-honey-bee/

Supposedly- ideally- a colony swarms when the first queen cells are capped (I think?)- so if your hive swarmed 8 days ago- then queens should be emerging around now. They take a few days (4?) to dry out and prepare to fly0- then 3 or 4 days to get mated- assuming good weather- and then another 3 or 4 days to start laying.

so if everything went by the book- you may expect to see eggs in 10 days or so. But it doesn’t always go by the book (but it usually does) :wink:


#7

@JeffH hello again Jeff …penny for your thoughts on the issue ? after all she was your queen… maybe she has found her way back to buderim ! :smile:


#8

The first thing I have to ask is the queen cell sealed or just a ‘play cell’ that is on the edge of the frame? I would not interfere with it till you know more about what is going on in the hive.
It is very unlikely that such a young queen would abscond or that the hive has swarmed but maybe they are needing more room to expand but I also doubt that given the age of the colony and that the flow super is not being used for honey storage.
My thinking is you just simply missed spotting the queen and she is not marked so you can spot her easily.
With frames in the brood covered in bees it is also possible you missed seeing newer brood under the nurse bees.
How often do you do inspections of the brood box and what has changed since the last inspection?
Is it possible that you are suffering a bit of expectant father syndrome and thinking the hive should be further advanced than it is.
As for the bearding that is normal given your location and climate, it is not related to swarming behavior. Bearding happens when the temperature of the brood area becomes too hot so lots of bees will go outside to cool off and it also lowers the hive temp inside.
Hope that is not too much information but makes sense to you.
Regards


#9

Hello @Peter48

Yes I can confirm the single only queen cell I found is fully sealed and not just a queen cup. However it was found on the outer frame of the brood box and on the edge of that frame.

I may well of missed eggs and younger larvae under the nurse bees but I did give it a good looking over however I am still new at this so this is possible but i was pretty sure of my findings…As for the queen I have never been able to see her so I totally agree I may of missed her (again i’m new to this) however if she is still in the colony then why the fully sealed queen cell?

I inspect every 3-4 weeks and the difference I feel from the last inspection is:

  • A less amount of capped brood… a little bit less not massive amounts less

  • More than normal empty very clean comb (where brood would normally be).

  • More than usual big pronounced drone brood

  • About 10 empty queen cups

  • Small amount of larvae about 30% of last inspection

  • One well-formed sealed queen cell located on the most outer frame and the side edge.

I have had the flow super on for 7 weeks with plenty of bees preparing it but definitely not any honey in there yet… I agree they have all that space so the cant be feeling cramped.

I thought I must of missed the queen so I squashed the fully sealed queen cell i found, which was full of larvae / royal jelly…… this may have been the wrong call !

Thoughts ?


#10

Ok Pedro, in 4 weeks so much can happen in a hive that you could have prevented had you known in time. At those inspection periods you are playing catch up all the time, you could do as I do, a weekly inspection of the super, no matter if it is a Flow Super or a Langstroth, it is still a honey Super. In your case and fortnightly go down into the Brood box and check the brood for any issues like SHB, wax moth, brood pattern and so on. If you want to check a part of the brood frame then blow on it and the bees will move away. By doing more regular inspection each inspection will be a shorter disturbance to the bees.
I suspect you put the flow super on too early, were 80% of all the cells in the brood box full of brood, honey, nectar or pollen, that the the time to fit a super.
In Spring you will get a big increase of drones and drone brood, that is normal.
Remove all but 2 of the queen cups, if you remove them all the next day they will be replaced and again that is common, especially in the Spring.
The colony can ‘turn off’ the queen laying for some reason so she might be waiting for cells to be cleaned or some other reason. In a heatwave they will stop her laying till the temperature drops a bit. That could tie-in with the bearding, makes sense.
Knocking down the side queen cell I would have left it but that isn’t a big deal.
Jeff is on a break for a while.
Cheers Pedro


#11

Capped QC + No eggs + maybe lots of drones if you use wax foundation brood frames = Swarmed. The Queen will take most of the foragers with her and leaves behind nurse bees. If the colony supersed to replace her, you should still see eggs and Queen cells I guess so it is more likely your colony had swarmed without you knowing.

The Queen and worker larvae capped at day 8, while drone larvae capped at day 10 (the larvae you spotted can be drone brood?) and the old Queen leaves at day 13-15 (or earlier from day 9 onward depending on how fast the colony put her on diet and weather condition so she probably stops laying from day 9 or bit earlier?)

Spring inspection should be 7-10 days routine to ensure you can catch the open QCs if they want to swarm so artificial swarm can be done. Up to your area in central coast QLD, I guess, your swarm season should start in early August? JeffH got into pre-emptive swarm control from mid-late July so not sure how further from you to him.

I suggest you should inspect more regularly to watch out the empty spaces for SHB as your climate will be favour them in the coming hot months while your flow super is empty, the bees only use it when in right conditions such as high on population combined with strong nectar flows.

Once they had swarmed, you can reduce the flow super to confine spaces so they can deal with pest more efficiently. Eggs can be seen 2 weeks after swarming, by 3-4 weeks still no eggs then you will need to buy a new Queen or feeding frame of eggs once per week (if you notice they get cranky due to a prolong queenless period).


#12

I’ve only quickly scanned this thread so forgive me if someone has commented on this already…

New Nuc installed this winter 2018…Flow super installed September 20th 2018 after great bee population progress and nectar flow.

That seems like an awfully short time gap to install a nuc and then a super (but you don’t clarify the exact month you installed the nuc). If you didn’t have a brood box that was 80pc full of bees then you might have created extra stress for the colony by giving them the extra space too early.


#13

Not knowing the nuc installation month makes it hard to know if the super went on too early. Isn’t Tannum Sands in QLD near the ocean?
I installed a nuc beginning of June near the beach in Northern NSW. End of July they had the entire roof built out with honey comb. Removed roof honey comb and put flow super on. End of August they swarmed, the flow super was fully capped, except where the viewing windows are.
We never expected the bees to build up THAT fast. They absolutely don’t build up this early where I live, 20km away.
Just saying, it can happen.
Also, we didn’t want to inspect often because the wind had been quite cold.
Maybe Pedro’s queen was as good as this one?


#14

Leave the hive alone for 2 weeks and have a look.