Something incredible happened today. I have a brick pathway through my back garden. My hives are about 5 yards away. I often see dead bees lying on the pathway, so I pick them up and put them into the grass. Today I actually found the queen from a swarm that I had put into a nuc box about a month ago sitting on the pathway. She has a blue dot on her back which would seem to indicate that she is about 1 year old. I immediately put her back into her hive, but I also inspected the frames and found no eggs and no fresh brood and no queen cells. I’m thinking that for some reason this queen has stopped laying although she can’t be that old. I may have to merge this hive with a stronger one, although I’m not sure how to do it, as really there are only one or two frames with any bees on them. Maybe better to just let them die out? I could requeen them, but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.
Sit it out?
She may have been superseded. It’s a common thing after swarming.
I have found dead queens twice outside my hives with a new queen inside.
If you are going to unite with another you best put in a test frame first.
I would wait a little longer
PS it would be useful to know where you are.
That is pretty simple, and I think @JeffH has even made a video on how to do it. I would take the lid off the strong hive, put 2 sheets of newspaper on top of the box and put the box from the weak hive on top.
A couple of things to think about. If the 2 hives are close to each other, foragers will return to the old hive site. To minimize this, I would do the combination very early morning, or late evening, when the foragers are not flying. Then I would place a branch or a large potted shrub in front of the strong hive, so that the weak hive foragers have to re-orient when they leave the hive. I would completely dismantle and remove the old hive to help them get the message.
As @Dee says, it is early to be looking for a queen cell. However, as you point out, if the colony is already weak, they are living on borrowed time and a merge might be the best way to save them.
He has written about possum boxes and summer in November/December in the past, so I think he must be in the land of kangaroos.
I never worry about returning foragers when I unite colonies because I do it in the evening when they have stopped flying. By the time the top colony has got to the entrance they have forgotten where they lived and re-orientate
Thanks guys & gals for the suggestions! I’m in Melbourne, Australia. I’ll wait a few more days and if there are no new developments, will merge this hive with another using the newspaper method.
Morning here. I just checked the hive. Dying queen was on the landing board. Overnight they’ve kicked her out a second time. (I had found her in the garden and put her back in again.)
They must have another
Make sure you find her before uniting.
Good luck…tell us how it goes
What stage is the brood that is in the hive at (if no eggs). Is there any uncapped brood or all capped? This will give you some indication as to how long the queen has been dead.
How many frames have brood? I would have a very thorough look for queen cells.
It may not be a supersede at all, it’s not uncommon for beekeepers to kill queens while working the hive and the dead queen is then ejected.
Then you would have LOTS of emergency cells which would be obvious surely
By the way…if you’re worried about this it’s handy to have a nuc box when you inspect…If you spot the queen you can put that frame in the box to keep her safe while you check through the rest of the box
When I put the swarm in the nuc box I added a frame of brood and honey from one of my other hives. That frame still has some old brood on it and one very old queen cell which I don’t think has been used at all. The original queen (blue dot) was still alive when I found her in the garden yesterday and again on the landing board this morning. I can’t really check if there is a new queen in there at the moment - today it’s cold and raining. When I inspected the hive yesterday I couldn’t see any eggs or fresh brood. I think those old cells might be chalk brood by now. The caps are a brown colour.
Then I’d go back to what I said earlier. You’re in Spring right? Shut them up and have a look in again in two weeks
Hi Steve, the first thing I would do is add one frame of brood from the strong hive to the weak hive. Make sure that frame has brood ranging from newly laid worker eggs to hatching brood. The bees will be able to make a new queen, if they want to. The hatching brood will boost the hives population. Repeat that every 7-10 days. It wont take long before you’ll end up with 2 strong hives, I always reckon that two strong hives are better than one.
It’s important to keep adding those frames of brood every 7-10 days. While you are doing this, don’t even bother looking at the brood. Just add another frame between the frames with the most bees & walk away. Sooner or later the bees will make a new queen. Maybe after 6 or more weeks you’ll be using brood out of that hive to strengthen another weak hive.
This, in my view is the key to successful beekeeping.
Oh, & keep your frames with a large % of worker comb, 90% or more.
That’s much better than my idea