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Oh no! My queen is gone! What do I do now?


#1

I finally opened up the brood box for the first time in a while… and was so sad to see that I had lost my queen. I’m assuming it’s probably too late to re-queen a hive now (Northern CA), and there’s no brood, some workers left, and the remaining workers have crammed the empty brood nest full of honey and pollen stores. There looked to be a partially formed emergency succession cell, but that was all my bees could do apparently.

So, it looks like I’ll have to start over next spring. My big question is, should I stick these frames of pollen and honey in the freezer to supplement my new colony with next spring? I don’t know what killed the hive, but besides a few dead bees unemerged in cells, there was no evidence to figure out if there’s a particular disease to worry about. Should I start from scratch or save the frames?

And is there anyone in the Redding, CA area who I might be able to get a split from in the spring, or am I just stuck buying a new nuc?


#2

Sounds like a great idea if you have space - it will all keep much better if frozen. If you do not have that much freezer space, freeze them for 48 hours, wrap in plastic and store in a cool place until next spring - that will kill off any wax moth eggs/larvae on the frames.

If you lost the queen, that is sufficient to lose the colony. If the frames don’t smell bad or look dark or fermented, it is likely that your hive just suffered from queen loss. If there were varroa involved, they won’t survive the freezing and lack of bees. It is was me, I would re-use the frames next year, but keep them all to one hive (don’t spread them around other hives if you have more than one).

I am a long way south of you, and I only have 2 hives of my own at the moment, but hopefully somebody local will be able to get you back with the bees next year.


#3

I didn’t detect any bad smells, and while some of the pollen looked a bit dark, I was assuming that was just from normal variations in pollen colors? The frames used to have brood in them so all the wax is dark, but I’ll stick a toothpick in the honey and make sure it looks good before I store them. I did see a few wax moth larvae and webs, so the freezing will definitely be important.


#4

Pretty likely, yes. Sounds like you have a plan. I wish you all the luck in the world for your next adventure with bees.


#5

Yes, freeze them. They will keep forever in the freezer. Pollen will go mouldy and eventually get eaten by pollen mites if you leave it out.
Pollen, especially, is a valuable frame to have as is any drawn brood comb come to think of it.
So sorry you lost them.

How often do you recommend people look in their hives?
I can’t help but think that if regular inspections were part of management before “wintering” …
No aspersions on OP at all, I’m just getting a feel for how often colonies are inspected in your area.


#6

All the time! :blush: But I don’t think you meant it in that sense. During the nectar flow, I think hives should be inspected weekly. With our California coastal climate, I continue to inspect on warm days during the Autumn and Winter, 2 to 4 weekly, depending on what I find. We have just had some 39C days, so I am needing to inspect ASAP for slumped comb.

I believed that @Dragoness had been inspecting, so hopefully any signs of disease would become apparent. I believe she mentioned in an earlier post that she thought the queen was dead/gone.


#7

Well I thought I had put mine to bed but three are losing weight significantly so I guess they are still brooding heavily
The feeders will have to go back on

How’s your Arnia doing?


#8

Sulking… :disappointed_relieved:

Well, it is complicated I guess. It seems there is a firmware problem which has made communication incredibly unreliable. It doesn’t help that the system uses a 2G cell data system, and in my area 2/3G is weak, while 4G is pretty good. They need to do a firmware update, which requires intervention at my end, but i can’t get to the equipment until next week, so we will see. After 2 months of monitoring, I have about 5 days of data so far, none of it recent. I will keep you updated, as the support team assure me that they are working on it.


#9

I know I wasn’t inspecting as often as I should… I had been inspecting the hive approximately weekly, but often only checking the top box because I always felt so bad about all the extra bees squashed whenever I unstacked the two brood boxes (plus I often didn’t have enough time for a full inspection-- I’m a working single mom with a weird schedule and the hive is not on my own property). Thus, if I didn’t see the queen, I wasn’t too worried unless other things were wrong. Then, I was out of town for a bit, and came back to this :frowning: If I had been inspecting more diligently, I might have caught it in time to re-queen the hive. Next year, I’m planning to build a horizontal Langstroth hive, which will hopefully make it easier to do more complete inspections.


#10

Brilliant idea…no heavy lifting and you can expand sideways :slight_smile:
A tip with two broods…take top box off and put on something to keep it off the ground, a regular roof or super is ideal, put it crosswise. Cover it then go through the bottom box. Then put top brood back on crosswise and slide it square slowly…bees will move out of the way. Then check the top box.
Good luck and keep us all in the loop


#11

What are you going to do with the remaining bees before they turn into laying workers?


#12

I was thinking about that, but then when I went out to get the frames for the freezer today there was a frenzy of robbing-- some other bees had found the weakened hive and were making the most of the opportunity. Not only were there not a whole ton of workers left yesterday, but now today I’d have no way to tell my workers from the thieves! I decided to just consider them lost.


#13

I’d get the frames off before laying workers and wax moths take over.


#14

Yeah I got them into the freezer this morning.


#15

If I had the money I would have al my hives on scales
It seems quite remiss on the company’s part for such an expensive bit of kit to use outdated communication. Even us peasants in darkest Wales have 4g. I hope you get it sorted