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URGENT HELP! My queen dissapeared... late in season- what to do?


#1

I just inspected my long hive- everything looked excellent outside- loads of bees bringing in loads of pollen.

Opened it up: full of bees- every frame completely covered. Started going through the frames: honey, honey, honey… NO brood! No Larvae! Just a small patch of drone cells on one comb- I assume from a laying worker. . It seems my queen died on me - somehow- maybe when I transferred the colony into the long hive. This is very sad for me as I made her this year with a split from my mums hive and I had high hopes for her.

What To Do??

It is very late here in Adelaide in the season- there are still a few drones to be seen at my various hives but nowhere near as many as a few weeks ago.

I rang a WA queen supplier: he had no queens at the moment but is hoping to get some more in the next 10 days or so- though he cannot guarantee it. It’s likely but not certain.

I can probably find a frame of brood to spare from one of my other hives- but would a new queen have time at this late stage of the season to get created, mated and laying?

As I said the hive is bursting with bees on 13 frames- lots of honey and some pollen stores. The bees were relatively relaxed on inspection- which is odd- I thought queenless hives got very nasty?


#2

I couldn’t wait for an answer- urgent action was required- so I inspected another hive and found a brood frame with some capped brood and larvae on it. I couldn’t see any eggs- but then I can never see any eggs. Soemof the larvae were quite small- just a few days old I guess. It also had two play queen cups… i put that in the hive. It might be my imagination but I think I heard the colony sigh with relief when I put the frame in. I hope it doesn’t do too much harm to the donor hive- which is just a single 8 frame box- and has a lot of honey alongside what little brood it has…

I’m still worried it is too late in the season for them to raise a queen and it to get mated…

What should I do now? How long before I look in again to see what’s happening?


#3

Hi Jack, take a look in 3 or 4 days, if there is no queen, you should see some queen cells by then. Don’t be too worried about whether the queen will mate or not. She probably will, if not, give them another frame of brood. Sometimes we worry unnecessarily.

If you can afford to, you could keep giving the hive frames of brood (on warm days) right through winter. Maybe one every 2-3 weeks. At the start of spring, they’ll make a queen.

PS Jack, after re-reading your message, I just want to say, “don’t get overly attached to the queens”. Apart from that, the patch of drones in drone comb is not from a laying worker, I suspect it is the last bees to hatch because drones take a few days longer to hatch than workers, therefore after the last worker has hatched, there will still be some drones left to hatch.

It’s when you see drones in worker comb that you know you either have an unmated or poorly mated queen or a laying worker. I found a colony the other day where the queen was laying a mix of fertile & unfertile eggs in worker comb. She got found & squashed.


#4

Thanks Jeff I feel much better already!

I am going to have to get over my sentimentality- I have another hive that I should have requeened a while back but I can’t bring myself to hunt down and pinch the queen quite yet. I feel bad whenever I squash any bee still. I am hoping that hive will supercedure her and save me having to do the deed. But I’ll have to get over that…

Good observation about the drone brood- I think your probably right. Which I guess puts a timeline on the queens likely demise- a few weeks ago at most?

Only problem I have with adding brood frames throughout winter is I only have 4 hives- one has mild chalk brood which I wouldn’t want to spread- that only leaves me two donors- one is only 8 frames+flow super - the other 10. Both have lots of honey stores and only a few frames of brood themselves…

If you had a hive with just 3 frames with brood- would you be happy to take one out? Or would that set it back too much?

One good thing in recent days the bees have been bringing in masses of pollen- and I saw fresh nectar in frames I had recently robbed- it seems we are having a good late autumn flow.


#5

One last thing Jeff: I spoke to a local beek this afternoon- he said there’s a small chance I’m not queenless at all. That occasionally the queen goes off the lay. I’m pretty sure the queen is dead- I checked every frame and didn’t see one capped worker cell or larvae. Do you think there’s any chance the queen just stopped laying for an entire brood cycle?

Also- if my queen did die two weeks ago- why didn’t I see any evidence of emergency cells? It’s as if the bees made no attempt to make a queen themselves?


#6

I’d say they probably didn’t attempt to make a queen. I suppose that they have a relatively small opportunity to make a queen given the age of eggs or larvae that is needed. They probably hesitated and lost the chance…


#7

Hi Michelle

I have personally experienced what you mentioned about the QB not laying at all. This was about a month ago

After that inspection, I thought i had lost her. No queen cell sighted and as a newbie, it did not occur to me as to why wasn’t there any?? LOL

Then I went to get a nuc to combine the ‘queenless’ hive. Upon removing the frames from the hive, I noticed there were capped broods! Oops, I thought. A good surprise tho

Good luck!


#8

When you thought your hive was queenless : did you inspect every frame carefully? And if so I assume you didn’t see a single egg larvae or full capped brood?

I hope that’s what’s happened to me too :roll_eyes:


#9

Yes that is a mystery as to why they didn’t attempt to make emergency queens.

I would be happy to take one of the three frames during spring, but not now.

In relation to the chalk brood, just make sure the brood can’t get chilled. I found a bit of it lately, I’ve been putting those frames above QX’s of strong hives.

It wouldn’t be all that bad to use the brood frames containing chalk brood to add to the colony if it did finish up to be queenless during winter. Even just one per month to maintain the population & hopefully prevent the colony from producing a laying worker.

You have lots of options, assuming the colony does go queenless without any chance of making or buying a new one, you could combine that colony with another one until after winter.


#10

Jack- re the eggs -you already know about using the sun to shine on the frame when looking for eggs - that was no good for me either so (you might have done this already) I then used a pair of cheap reading glasses from the pharmacy (place them so you can see over the top of them when walking around), and then I had no problem finding the eggs. Hope that helps if you haven’t tried already.


#11

Hmm- the problem with combining it to another hive is that’s it’s such a large colony- and made of 13 frames (long hive). I don’t have a spare 8 frame box to put it on a flow hive…and I’d have to do some thinking about combining colonies into a long hive- not so easy to do the newspaper trick…

Hopefully they will make a queen- I might buy one anyway- and if the long hive requeens itself I could pinch the chalk brood queen :princess: :cry:


#12

I had the same thing as Aaron about 6 months ago, and it all came good Michele/ jack. Cheers Tim


#13

That’s interesting: did you look at every frame and see no eggs, larvae, capped brood, nothing? I had just assumed that automatically means no queen… except for a hive in mid winter. Apparently where I am bees don’t even stop rearing brood in winter either…


#14

Maybe they are just in reorientation mode due to the new space? Everything is different, humidity, smell, air circulation, …
And after all, this time of year it prob doesn’t take much to turn a queen off laying.
Following


#15

Where I am, late in the season, the queen stops laying in most of my normal sized hives.


#16

Somehow my queens didn’t get the message it’s late in the season, or maybe it’s not late at all yet. They all go about laying as if it’s spring time, with pollen and nectar galore coming in. The Carnies and the Italians.
Not sure when they intend to stop, but obviously not as long as the goods are to be collected and temps go way above 20C.


#17

If the queen is in there- I’ll be surprised indeed. I’ve never looked into a hive before and seen no evidence whatsoever of brood. I really did look at every comb- other than maybe 20 drone cells on one small area of one comb I didn’t see a thing. I just thought: that’s it- she’s dead!


#18

Just for a spell before they resume? So there’s a time period where you can’t see any brood at all- then it appears?

I guess we are talking at least two weeks of no laying- till no capped brood is left- and then a resumption? Does that happen?

I hope I haven’t panicked for nothing- the hive I took the frame from is my most productive and we seem to be having a late autumn flow on… I did put a perfect fully drawn comb to replace it at least…


#19

IT’s very regional and there are other factors involved. My big 3 deep hives are always laying but the nucs and 2 deep hives take a break from early November into late January depending on weather.


#20

Yes we found no larva, eggs, capped brood, queen cells, that we saw anyway and ordered a nuc, we were so convinced that it was queenless, the day before picking up the nuc we checked the hive and we had a laying queen. So I used the nuc for starting our second hive. Cheers Tim


Seemingly Queenless Hive- End of Autumn what to do? Advice please?