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Only eggs in my split


Hi, I tried my first splits this season and two out of the four finally got it going (eggs and nicely wet open brood). One other has eggs but some are not laid as you might expect (not centered, some multiples,… : laying worker or juvenile queen ?). The last one (who I thought succeeded first - I found her before, marked her and found eggs later) still has only eggs, that is: the eggs don’t seem to progress to larvae ??

I’m I looking at frames with older eggs than I think they are who are neglected by the nursing bees, or what can be the reasons there is no brood in this one yet ?

I gave these two a sealed queen cell from another hive to see what would happen…


If the eggs aren’t hatching, it would be because the nurse bees aren’t placing larval food on them. Eggs wont hatch without larval food first. Do the bees need feeding? Are they bringing in pollen & honey?

Not all splits are successful at producing a new queen. It’s best to intervene quickly with a fresh frame of brood before laying workers start. If you have any doubts whatsoever, don’t hesitate to add a fresh frame of brood. It wont do any harm, even if you do have a queen that is slow to start.


Hi Jeff, thanks for your insight. It got me thinking that most of my bees in the splits are perhaps too old by now to nurse the eggs to larvae. I started with cellpunches (no diary still but now is definitely a good case to start), than some control frames, and the current possibly viable queen would probably be from a rescue cell.
maybe I can shake some young bees from other hives to rejuvenate? Should I replace the frame with eggs or do they stay viable as well? Hard to see/ check what are new eggs and what are old (bees don’t seem to clean out)


I think even older bees will nurse. The best thing to do would be to add frames of brood that contain mostly sealed & emerging bees, as long as some eggs are also present. That way, you’ll get nurse bees in the coming days.

I see lots of talk on the forum about the age of bees etc. I never give that much thought. Maybe I do subconsciously, while I’m adding brood frames that contain lots of emerging brood.


Hi Jeff, as frames need to be removed from the hive to put these replacement frames in, do you have advice as to which frames to choose to remove, and then what to do with them?


Hi Dan, I was thinking about this while I was out. The author of the thread could simply swap the frames over. Put the frame containing the unhatched eggs into the donor hive in place of the frame he took. The bees of a stronger colony will soon deal with it.

Unhatched eggs mustn’t be a real problem to a colony if weather suddenly turns bad. The bees can hold off on supplying larval food to the eggs until conditions improve. If the colony has a lot of young larvae that they can’t feed on account of circumstances, I guess they have to eat the young larvae before it dies & goes bad & smelly.

To further answer your question Dan, I just choose the frame that is the least use to the colony, remove it & arrange the rest of the frames so that the donor frame sits in the middle of the bee cluster. The removed frame can be left out or added to another colony. You just work it out as you go.


Thanks Jeff. I’m sure your explanation will be of much help …


Oh, Jeff, do I understand it correctly than that eggs can last/hold for longer than the “classic” 3 day cycle; I mean eggs are not lost if they didn’t develop to larvae at day 4 (yet). The feed trigger was never on my radar before, thanks for pointing me to that.
They have plenty of food and stores in that split, and they share the same conditions as with the other hives who all 4 keep producing brood all be it at a slower pace.
Little bit of extra feed wouldn’t do harm I guess.
Will let you know how they respond to the new mixed frame that will show me the acceptance of the queen cells I introduced earlier as well.


Yeah, I read that in the ABC to XYZ of Bee Culture. When I read that, I remember thinking about how that fits with nature. Then I recently learned how bees eat brood, so I immediately wondered how that fits in the natural world also.

I remember reading how eggs wont hatch without what they call “larval food”. But how long an egg stays viable for, I have no idea.


I put in a frame with open and closed brood, very curious what they will do with it - they lady is still in the house, she wasn’t hard to spot this time as she was on my shoulder all of a sudden out of nowhere; cheeky :slight_smile:
but still all I can see are eggs everywhere (at least two frames both sides in a 6 frame nuc) since two weeks at least.


No rescue cells, they seem quite happy with their queen, and rightfully so: she’s pretty, big, blackish, laying plentyful … but not a single egg hatching. I’ve heard of “taube Eier” in German literature, like ‘in vain’, or deaf, empty, without purpose. Haven’t found a solution yet… maybe the only solution would be replacing her.

If she wasn’t fertalized at all, would she be laying ? - she was born quite early in the season, local drones available and I have one of the few Belgian professional beekeepers around so in the hundreds of hives (so plenty of ‘foreign’ drones)

Even replacing gives me some worries: do they clear the frames full of eggs for the new Q or should I give them empty frames ? this nuc is slimming fast, so the easiest would be joining with another hive I guess…

Every time I open a hive, there is something the girls are doing something different than the books say … one amazing hobby :slight_smile:


Even a big, pretty, blackish laying queen can be a dud queen. If you have doubts about her, what you could do is kill her & leave her body there, then introduce another frame of brood, or even two that contains mostly sealed & emerging brood, but importantly also some fresh worker eggs or young worker larvae for them to start making emergency queens with.

There will be no need to unite the colony as long as you have brood frames you can add to it.


I would have thought that if she was un-mated then the unfertilized eggs would result in drones?


Curious to know what the hive with the next queen will do to the current eggs. I’ll let you know :slight_smile:


The first preview page of this article already learns you a lot. That it is a rare condition :slight_smile: and that nurse bees are not the issue, nor is the sperm…
Tomorrow this split will receive a new queen cell