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bee math and virgin queen

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New Bee

Joined: 09 Jul 2014
Posts: 5
Location: Berea, KY, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:59 pm    Post subject: bee math and virgin queen Reply with quote

I am a new tbh beekeeper (since May) and had a swarm 13 days ago. It was likely a secondary swarm because of certain circumstances. (I tried to post a link to my previous thread about this, but it won't let me! I have to have 5 posts.)

The next day (12 days ago, I inspected the hive and found two new queens. I think they had just hatched and one was piping. There were a couple of capped queen cells (which have now been ripped open).

I left the hive alone until today. When I went out there, I saw very little capped honey and nectar. Before this all happened, I had 4 full combs of nectar and much capped honey. I didn't see any eggs or capped brood, but saw a small amount of larvae at different stages on 4 combs. It was a very sporadic laying pattern.

I assume that it's too early for the new queen to start laying. I didn't see her, so I either missed her or she is on her mating flight. The bees seemed very calm and quiet. There was no distinct hum that I've heard a hive makes when it's queenless.

What's going on with the larvae? They can't be left over from the old queen (unless they are dead and never capped?), and the new queen shouldn't be laying yet. Is it laying workers? I didn't see any other eggs.

Thanks for the help. Bees are far more complex than any book or teacher can tell a beginner!

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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Maria

Just for information, it probably would have been much easier for you and us if you had just updated your previous thread with this info.

I've been back and looked at it, but it's difficult to store all the information, so bear with me.

Certainly it's not too soon for the new queen to be mated and laying. That can happen within 10 days of her hatching, but can take up to 4, even 5 weeks as my bees have started proving.

I would be concerned about the sporadic laying pattern however. Are you able to take and post photos for us to see it? laying worker brood is easy to identify because the worker can only lay drones, but she lays them in worker cells, so that they are really cramped for space and the nurse bees have to extend the cell walls and cap them with a very domed capping. Even before they are capped, someone experienced can usually see that they are in the process of doing it. I would suggest you do some searches on google or maybe even "you tube" for laying worker brood so you are familiar with what to look for. Taking photos when you do an inspection will enable you to directly compare what you saw with the results you find, rather than trying to remember.

The colony is now significantly depleted of workers, so they are not able to replace the stores they lost so easily. Did you remember to reduce the entrance as I suggested previously and can you ask other local beekeepers if there is much nectar available at the moment? If there is very little nectar for them to forage and they have very little stores, then they will struggle to raise brood and build up. If they are being robbed the queen will often stop laying, so that might account for the lack of eggs and poor brood pattern.
Take time to just observe the hive and watch the bees at the entrance. If you do it regularly, you will develop an instinctive feel for what is going on. I know that will not happen overnight, but it's a really good habit to get into if you have your bees at home as you will start to read their behaviour and it's very therapeutic I find.

If they are being robbed, there will be quite a lot of debris on the hive floor if you have a solid one or on the ground under the mesh if it's an open mesh floor. Robber bees move in a more "shifty" manner when they approach the hive and often look quite shiny and dark as they get sticky with honey as they steal it.

Not sure what else I can add, other than photos would help a lot, but I'm the last person to make an issue of that as I've not managed to figure out how and don't have the facilities to take and post photos online.

Anyway, just had a power blip and nearly lost all this text, so going to post before I really do lose it. Hope some of what I have said helps.


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