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Queenless? Now what?

My daughter and I have a Flow Hive 2 that we started from a package in May. We did an inspection today. We have two brood boxes, one which was added four weeks ago right after our last inspection along with some plastic frames (and two filled out wooden frames of brood we pulled up from the main box).

In our previous inspection on July 21 (photos here), we saw the queen, lots of eggs, larvae, capped brood, and capped honey.

In today’s inspection, (photos here) we did not see the queen, and there were only two (outer) frames with capped brood. We saw some larvae on a few frames, but no eggs. We also saw four queen cells.

There were a good number of bees in the new brood box, but not much progress on making new comb, only on one of the 8 new plastic frames (6 in the new box and 2 in the old box) had comb drawn past the most rudimentary. While there was some capped honey, there was not much, which is concerning given where we are in the season (we live in the New England part of the US). We just put a feeder on with 1:1 syrup.

Our questions:

  1. Is it reasonable to assume that our queen is dead / ineffective? Since our bees are making queen cells, should we let them try to fix this themselves, or should we try to obtain a new queen? Or is it possible they just have not had enough nectar to do much work (we’ve been away for the last two weeks, so were not able to feed them)?
  2. Given our bees have not made any new comb, let alone brood cells, on the new frames in the new brood box, should we take away the new box? I guess we could shake all of the bees on the new frames into the old box, but I’m concerned they won’t all fit - all of the frames in the new box seem half full to full, and the bottom box frames are full of bees. But I’m also worried that the population will crash due to lack of resources in the fall / winter.

Any help greatly appreciated, we are pretty nervous right now!

Thanks,

Nick

P.S.: here is a detail show which shows some of the few capped brood, some larvae, and the queen cells:

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What was in those queen cells? If they were empty, they are “play cups”. Don’t panic, they are just practicing, or trying to psyche you out! :blush:

Nope. At this time of year, queens should be ramping down their laying. To you and I, it is still summer. To bees, it is the end of the season and time to pack down for winter.

You might give them until the end of the month, then do that. They could draw out a bit more comb, and you could use that next year to give them a boost.

If that was my hive, I would inspect again in a week and take a good look inside those queen cups. If they are empty, no problem. They are not in the right place for emergency or supercedure cells, so at this time of year, I think you will be fine. Your brood pattern looks lovely too.

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I’m agreeing with Dawn, very likely the queen cups in the pic are nothing more than play queen cells. Most hives have them and there is nothing achieved in knocking them down as the bees will make new ones. In the photo there is larvae so I suspect you don’t have a problem. The colony is settling down, packing down, reducing the colony with the cooler weather to come. Consider feeding the hive to build up Winter stores and RELAX Nick.
Cheers

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Your colony look healthy and strong. Nice looking queen. They will know what to do. Enjoy.

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Ok, I give up, are we looking at the same photo Fred?

Photo is in google photo link above from first inspection…

Google Photos

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She certainly stands out big, bold and beautiful Fred, an excellent photo mate.
Cheers

:rofl::rofl::rofl: That explains it then. And I spent 10 mins looking for it in the previous photo! Thanks.
Doh.

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I spent 10mins thinking I’d give mad and replied to the wrong post… Then I realised there was a link! :joy: then again, you have to be a little mad to keep bees :wink:

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