Thanks in advance! I’m in NSW Australia so just gone into Spring here.
Oct 3rd I noticed 4 capped queen cells in my hive. I removed 2 of these. Saw a queen but I think may have been a virgin.
Oct 7th they swarmed, thankfully to a baited box we had set up just in case. Queen found and marked.
Oct 8th I inspected main hive and one queen cell uncapped, the other still capped.
Since this moment, there’s been no sign of eggs, larvae or the queen in the main hive. Both remaining queen cells have been uncapped for at least 10 days now.
Inspected the swarm on the weekend just gone and queen still present and laying.
Still no sign of a queen or eggs in the main hive. Did find a supersedure cell on one of the frames though. Population is reducing and I feel they’re a bit more defensive than usual. Also, on inspection they are fanning a LOT.
My gut tells me I am queenless. I know there’s a period for a virgin to harden up, mate and then start laying, but if our virgin with the swarm is laying by now, surely I’d expect to be also seeing eggs in the main hive?
If the cells were all capped on the 3rd, then all queens would have technically been ready to emerge from the 11/12th, though may have been held back.
Would you assume I am queenless? I’m nervous to wait too much longer in case I lose the hive, but nervous to install a new queen in case there’s a chance there’s already one there and new one is killed!
Hi Shan, it sounds like the capped queen cells you have left in your hive have dead queens in them, stung by the new queen when she emerged. The original queen left with the swarm, so she may have just been a runt queen rather than a virgin.
Id have another look for the new queen in your original hive, it might be she wasn’t successful in finding the congregation site yet, and has not mated, or perhaps she did not survive the journey.
It is definitely good you are aware of the circumstances and requeening might be needed, give it a week or two longer. The population will hold to allow for this. Unless they are quite small in population already. In which case you are better off requeening and really scouring your hive for the virgin queen.
To confirm, I don’t have any capped cells left in the hive. The two I left are uncapped and have been for over 10 days now.
I was actually thinking the swarm we saw and caught was a cast swarm and potentially my original queen left earlier but we didn’t see it. Now that I remember, when we inspected on the 3rd Oct and saw the 4 queen capped queen cells, they were covered in bees. When we shook off the first frame, suddenly there was a queen on the frame on her own and that cell we saw was uncapped. Could the hive have been holding her in, but us shaking the frame allowed her out? I feel it was this queen we saw that then swarmed on the 7th, which we caught.
I removed some swarm cells post swarm and capped queen emerged from on of them, so there is every chance the bees could have been swarming over her when they caught scent of the pheromone. Do the uncapped queen cups have a larvae in them, there was probably no eggs to transfer over and rear a new queen, this could be a sign that you did have two swarms and the original queen left without you noticing and the one in your bait hive is a secondary swarm. Best bet is going to be to requeen, the next thing you will notice if they are queenless is the workers bees starts laying drones.
The uncapped cells were capped. But now they are uncapped, meaning queens have emerged at some point. So I originally saw 4 capped queen cells on Oct 3rd. And then on the same day saw a queen alone on a frame after shaking bees off and seeing an uncapped cell on the same frame.
I’m not seeing any laying workers yet but i’m scared if I leave it too long, this is whats going to happen. I can get a queen tomorrow so I think I will do that.
Will I be able to tell whether I’m queenless or not by their reaction to the queen in the cage when I install her?
Hi Shan, what I would do is give the colony a frame with eggs from out of the swarm hive. Place it right in the middle of the main cluster of bees. Then check that frame in about 5 days time. If the colony is queenless, they’ll start producing emergency queens.
Welcome to my world. I do this sort of thing any time I’m in doubt, which is quick & easy. Then I don’t give it a second thought until the due date.
If the queen is in the colony, however just a bit slow to get laying, she may have started laying during that 5 day period, & she will most likely be on that frame of brood, or frames adjacent to it.
One tip, which I think you already do is write dates down. I check to see if a new queen is laying after 28 days. I have a few to check today or tomorrow.