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Drone hive? Now what?

Hey guys, me again! So, I checked my hive today and found both queens! I am so relieved that I did not kill anyone in my traumatic nuc situation on Monday. Hive 1 looks great! Full frames of tiny rice eggs. Hive 2 looks scary. Just a couple random spots of tiny rice eggs in worker brood and then lots of drone. Like drones on every frame. And again there are a lot of wax crumbs and now larvae out on the bottom board. I will include pictures to help show what I mean. I am sorry for asking so many questions, I feel like this new hobby is a little bit making me insane haha!




Healthy hive 1 queen.



Droney Hive 2 queen.


You did great, and I agree, you found both queens according to your 2nd and 3rd posts. Well done!

Your first photo in your first post on this thread has a horrible brood pattern. Was that from Hive 2? I would ask for a refund, or a new queen. I would be embarrassed to sell a nucleus with that kind of brood pattern. Hopefully they will be too and will put it right.

The second photo in the same post shows a load of junk on the bottom. Not normal, and I don’t like it. Looks like wax moth poop, but it could be cappings from brood with no nurse bees to clean it up. I think it goes with a bad nucleus - an old drone-laying queen. This is NOT your fault, it just looks like there aren’t enough nurse bees to clean house.

Just my thoughts, but the photos are really helpful, thank you for making the effort to do them so nicely. :wink:

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Thank you Dawn! Both of the original pics are from the drone hive. I contacted the guy that sold them to me and am waiting for a reply. I feel a little bit stuck because he hasn’t been very nice so far, so I am scared to ask him again what the heck is going on. I haven’t seen any evidence of wax moths, but I could be mistaken. So a new queen would help in this situation? One random thing is that I found a queen cage in the nuc, so my friend was thinking that maybe he got these 5 random frames of drone and added a new queen to that and sold me that. Which is kind of lame since I thought I was purchasing an established nuc.

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The pic with the crud on the hive floor could be wax from a mass emerging of bees and is is the wax cappings which the bees should clean up and dump it outside the hive, but you have mentioned larvae in it as well which is a concern. If the dead larvae is looking dried out it could be the hive has some chalk brood or the bees have removed a few bees from cells that have a problem so keep an eye on those numbers and if it increases a really close-up pic would maybe help us.
Sad to read that you might have bought a nuc of drone frames, annoying that there are some bee keepers who take advantage of beginners to make a dollar. The only way to save that colony is if the strong hive is strong enough to switch some frames of brood and nurse bees to the drone hive and put frames of new foundation into the strong hive. Don’t put frames of drone comb into the strong hive as those frames will be always heavy with drones, I would cut the wax out of those frames and render it down to clean wax.

Thank you Peter! So replace all frames with new empty frames? I’m so bummed about this!

That is what I would do. Drone comb will always produce drones. While some drones are a good thing in a hive they don’t do any of the jobs that worker bees do in a hive like foraging, comb building and wax production. Some drone cells is ok and found towards the edges of a frame commonly when I find a frame with too much I cut out the section of drone cells or even render the whole frame.
I only use wired frames with wax foundation in my apiary, I’ve experimented with empty frames and starter strips, a few plastic foundation but they have never been a success for me.

That theory from your friend sounds completely plausible. But if so, you didn’t get a real nucleus. You got a bunch of drones and a queen who doesn’t have a support team. Your supplier needs to review their ethics and ability. Not that you can say that to them. To my mind, that kind of behavior is just horrible. I would hold out for a replacement nucleus with at least 2 frames of non-drone brood, one of honey, and two others at least partially drawn with some supplies in them. I would even be embarrassed to sell that, but that would be the minimum that I would accept if I was buying.

Send them your lovely photos and tell them that international beekeepers are saying that is a crappy brood pattern for a new nucleus. Not your fault. It is our opinion. He should not be selling something like that.

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Dang it. I am so bummed! I want to use wired frames in one of my hives as soon as I put the 2nd brood level on.

Ya, I don’t get it. Hive 1 has 1 frame of honey and good eggs on almost all the brood. And the 3 empty frames that I added all have starts of wax on them already. Both nucs bought from the same guy. I am bummed that he hasn’t messaged me back yet to talk about this. Actually I did ask his wife about if they mark their queens because I was having trouble finding it and as soon as I got off the phone he made a very passive aggressive post in our local facebook beekeepers group about stop asking about where the queen is or when you will find her. I had already made up my mind to go with someone else for nucs next year, and then was disapointed to find a problem with this nuc today. Dang it. I want to cry :sob:

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Between @Dawn_SD and I think you have an accurate picture about the guy who sold you the nuc and his lack of honesty. Without frames of worker bees donated to that hive it won’t survive. Don’t regard him as a friend.
I know in the US there is an issue with toxic chemicals in much of the bees wax so bee keepers there tend to use plastic foundation or empty frames. Australia produces ‘clean’ wax so there is no problem here in using sheets of bees wax foundation. Any frames I make I wire and fit full sheets of wax foundation so that after a couple of years in the brood box they can then be used in a conventional super for honey storage and extracted in my centrifuge. Beware of any so called sheets of bee wax foundation that comes from China as too much of it is a mixture of paraffin wax and bees wax, it looks a slightly whiter color but a quick lick and it is obviously not bees wax. The bees are very reluctant to use it but in desperation they will.
I have tried plastic foundation and for me they are a failure. 1. They need to have a coating of bees wax on then to get them accepted by the bees in a reasonable time. 2. In my climate (hot) they warp so badly that often the bees leave large patches of none or too shallow a depth for eggs to be laid.

That’s not drones in drone comb, that’s drones in worker comb. Either the queen is not properly mated or the drone eggs were laid in the combs beforehand.

That stuff on the floor looks like hive beetle activity. That’s what it looks like to me. Those grooves in the top photo look like hive beetle damage. I’m not sure what that white ring around that cell towards the top on the right is.

Anyway it’ll pay to check it daily & have a close look inside the cells for maybe tiny grubs. Remove that stiff off the floor & get a closeup look at it.

So many things to learn about foundation! I purchased frames with the plastic foundation in them and they have been brushed with wax. But my little bees do seem hesitant to work on it. The nuc seller did end up reaching out to me and asking for my address to bring me a new nuc he says. I am going to let my husband deal with him when he comes haha. Thank you for yours and @Dawn_SD help!!

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Drones in worker comb? That sounds worse! Which grooves in the top photo? I am not sure what to look for. I did scrape some wax off the edges of the frame right before the pic, so do you mean the marks on the edges? Or are there grooves in the wax? So check daily? Ok, I will check again today! Thank you!!

That’s what we are here for, I get a buzz out of helping beginners out, and I’m sure that’s what @Dawn_SD is about too.
Glad to hear the nuc supplier is going to do the right thing by you, which is the last he should do. Read between the lines. :shushing_face:
Please keep us updated how things are going with your hives. Bee keeping can bee a bit stressful especially when you think you have it all worked out and the bees decide to change the ball game without letting you know so constant vigilance is a plus for you.

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A lot of that brood is worker brood. Because there is so much missing, the remainder looks like drone brood.

If you run an imaginary straight edge over that comb, you’ll see lots of grooves & hollows. That missing comb from those grooves & hollows is what’s on the bottom board. That will be caused by hive beetles initially with bees trying to clean it up. I’m thinking that the brood adjacent to those grooves could have tiny beetle grubs inside them. This is why I say to check that frame daily because those grubs advance very quickly. There could also be tiny grubs in that stuff on the floor.

I showed your photos to my mentor without me saying anything. She said exactly the same thing as me.

It could have been caused by bees getting squashed between combs as you transferred the frames or you may have squashed bees between combs if you picked the hive up & put it down again. If the frames are loose, they can wobble & squash bees between them. That will certainly lead to beetle problems, if that was the case.


I agree with that, but it is still a horrible brood pattern. I didn’t mean to imply that it is all drone brood and there are certainly some workers in the photo. Just not enough to support a new hive. Not sure that it is because of a “beemaggeddon” brood killing incident, or just a failed queen. I don’t mean that the queen has only drones in the hive, just that she doesn’t have enough workers to let her make the hive thrive. :wink:

It’s hard to make a judgment on the laying pattern with so much surface damage, evident by all the stuff on the floor. There is a terrible lot of drone brood on that worker comb, which could have come from a different hive that has a failing queen.

I’ve never heard of a beemaggeddon, however it’s probably a lot of hive beetle activity, going by past experience.

Just my word for an Armageddon for bees. :rofl: