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Please help, I have a problem

Hi

This hive was last inspected 10 days ago, and looked healthy, but wind picked up during the inspection as my dad noted here so closed shop after two frames.

Today, I made a thorough inspection of every frame after yesterday I noted about 10 or so wax moth larvae on the plastic slider. Good news is there are zero wax moth larvae inside the hive.

Bad news is the hive is devoid of bee larvae. Some sparse capped brood and that’s about it. No honey in the brood box, just in the super. No pollen either. I have a few completely empty frames in the brood box.

I was trusted with this hive as it was strong and I think I buggered it up. I suspect I killed the queen they’re not even attempting to make a new one because I didn’t find queen cells either.

Apart from giving up, what else do you suggest?

This is probably the best frame, after I shook off the bees.

HELP!

Going into winter I’m worried with this situation. Looks like queens are not available for sale now.

Is combining this hive with the other one Then split in spring a good option to salvage the bees? If yes what’s the best way to do it?

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Wax moths get going in hives that aren’t as strong as they should be— if you are indeed queen less and you are low on bees (did they swarm?) your suggestion of combining with another hive is probably a good idea BUT you need to be sure you aren’t putting into a healthy colony a problem that isn’t under control. I see you are in Australia so one of the forum members from your region is probably in a better position to advise as I’m in Ontario Canada with very different climate and currently in Spring weather. If I were n your shoes I’d combine after confirming there is no wax moth for sure (and I use a torch to burn the insides of the box before I would add it to the existing healthy colony). For added measure if you are ‘new’ I would take a picture of your healthy colony first and post what it looks like here to get advise— your idea of healthy and a more experienced beekeeper may be different and they may tell you not to combine this late in your season.

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BTW is that frame sitting on top of the box it came from? 1. I saw a few larvae in that frame, and 2. The underneath frames look like there are plenty of bees so I would think you should just leave this box alone and let the bees sort it out— there may still be a queen in there somewhere.

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Thanks so much Tim much appreciated.

Yes I found just a few bee larvae not much. Didn’t see the queen and I really looked hard. I couldn’t see eggs but I admit I struggle to see eggs.

I didn’t see any queen cups either. Here we are in autumn going into mild winters.

Yes I am totally new and keen to learn. My dad is also new, just been doing mistakes for a few years more. We’ll post a photo of the healthy hive for assessment.

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Another question. The small amount of larvae I saw, could they be a laying worker? Is there a way to tell?

I think all’s ok, patience is a virtue.
Remember, opening the hive will set the colony back.
Here on the scarp there is little for the bees, the odd drone still flying around and I’m seeing honey disappearing from the supers. I’ll be inspecting later this week and will let you know where mine are at.
These warmer days may be confusing the bees but I’d expect to see some honey in the brood box.
I don’t think combining at this early stage is appropriate bees know best, I reckon your queen is just better than you at hide and seek. :wink:

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Thanks skeggley, you sound very reassuring. We’re worried we killed the queen.

The frames were very very light, because there is no honey in them, and not much brood. The frames on then end are totally empty!

Should I leave it for a week, or better two weeks to minimise disruption?

Thanks again, we really appreciate your help.

Boo, apparently Murwillumbah Queen Bees have a few queens left due to a lot of beekeepers cancelling their orders. Might be worth giving them a call. Can’t remember if this was due to the bushfires or virus :thinking:

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Thanks Ben. I’m in WA I only checked my local store.

@skeggley reckons I be patient and queen might be there. So I’ll wait.

My dad reckons we lost her but if there are 10 potential problems he’ll always go for the most catastrophic one.

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I agree with @Tim_Purdie and @skeggley ,

That frame looks to have some larvae in it. The frames below look to be covered with good populous of bees. The other fact of the matter is that healthy and strong colonies will keep wax moth at bay - which yours seem to be doing.

If there’s honey in the super, that’s also a good thing. Have you checked in case the queen has moved up stairs?

Sounds like you’ve looked for evidence of a queen and can’t find any. Eggs are hard to spot, can you spot them here at 4x magnifications?

If you’ve really concerned, you can swap 1 frame from another colony with BIAS (Brood in all stages - eggs, larvae and capped), but more importantly eggs/larvae. If you check in a weeks time, if they have made a queen/superseder cell, it would confirm queenlessness.

Are you NOR or SOR?

Lastly, relax. You’re doing fine. It can be very nerve racking as a new bee keeping. I’ve found the bees to be very forgiving. New beekeepers tend to intervene more often than needed - it’s good for learning. But do remember that in Perth we are blessed not to have certain pest and diseases that other parts of Australia and the rest of the world have.

Cheers,
Fred

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I’m doubtful you have a laying worker. But for your information, the telltale signs are:

  • heaps of drones (as laying workers don’t get mated)
  • heaps of eggs in a cell (she’s not good at laying a single centred egg)

image

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Hey Fred, thank you thank you thank you!

Ok looks like no laying workers. I found a handful of drones but that is normal I think.

Since I was initially concerned about a wax moth infestation I went straight for the brood box. I didn’t check the super frames this time but the super was as heavy as last inspection, when it was about 60-70% full.

Should’ve checked whether she sneaked up.

This hive had every frame full of brood or honey or pollen only a month ago. Now the brood box is quite empty so something must have set it back. Must be something I done wrong.

Robbing is not an issue and haven’t seen any, entrance is reduced.

I will wait a week and have to consider robbing a frame of brood from dad’s hive. Is it a good time of the year to do that without setting back the donor hive?

Thanks again all of you. Much appreciate your help.

That is as good a photo as I have seen of worker larvae Fred. As you say a worker will only lay drones. I have had hives remain queenless for a few months, not producing a laying queen, when given a frame of brood weekly with no result. I have even resorted to terminating a queen in a good hive so that hive makes several queen cells so I can donate to the queenless hive. That was a last resort but it worked. A hive that existed on donated brood accepted a capped queen cell not making a queen itself. Funny how bees can play mind games with us.
Cheers

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No, because you are swapping it out with an already drawn frame from your colony. But best to make hay while the sun is shining. I’m not sure how much of this warm weather we’ll have left - especially if you discover you’re truly queenless.

Another possibility if your hive has actually made a new queen and she is on her mating flight. But you have reported no signs of queen cells - however, they do chew them out quickly after they are done, so it’s all in the timing.

Let us know how you go.

Cheers,
Fred

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" terminating a queen in a good hive so that hive makes several queen cells"

Thanks peter but I think that is way too risky to do at this time of year here. We don’t want to end up with two queenless hives. Don’t you think that is too drastic at this stage?

Thanks Fred. This is pure speculation because who knows what happened. If the queen got knocked off when we think she did, that’s 10 days ago so if they found themselves queenless I should still see the queen cell. They emerge in 16 days.

Skeggley is onto something I think - maybe she is still there that’s why I didn’t find a queen cell.

I still have a big question. What can make a hive shrink so much so quickly?

So very true @fffffred. I have had queenless hives with ‘play cells’ ignore them and make a new queen cells that they destroy soon after the queen emerges but for their own reason leave the play cells in tact. That is something I have not figured out or had a logical answer to as to why hive make play cells. It just happens. Maybe something like giving a baby a dummie, they calm down but don’t get any milk.
A doaner hive if it is strong can benefit from being ‘thinned out’ with little to no ill effects.
Cheers

I am with @fffffred on this one. Use the weather while it lasts. Find a frame with good amount of fresh eggs in donnor hive. Swap it with empty in receiving hive. In case you have a queen then no harm done. If not, they may still have a chance to raise a new one before drones disappeared.

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Do colony’s remove spent queen cells?

So if they do, and have, here’s 4 of the bee’s threes for you Boo and Dad…

  • 3 weeks from a capped queen cell to eggs.
  • 3 days from egg to larvae.
  • 3 weeks from egg to bees in the box.
  • 3 weeks from bees in the box to bees in the flowers.
    ( Thanks THP :+1:.)
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Thank you! I’ll do that then.

I just had a look at a 14-day forecast, temps mid to high 20s, with a storm in a fortnight.

You guys know what you’re saying, so we’ll follow your advice.

I bookmarked that! I think we’re a bit tight on timing, so hoping that your assessment that the Q is still there is correct, while helping them with an extra frame of brood.