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Swarmed Hives. All brood hatched .... No eggs

 
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:55 am    Post subject: Swarmed Hives. All brood hatched .... No eggs Reply with quote

Hi all. My two national hives swarmed. One swarm is now doing great in a warre hive. The other in a HTBH is just tasking off.

I took all but one queen cell out of each, both of which then hatched. Guess I should have not interfered and left the rest in.12 in one 14 in the other.

Now the hives have hatched the last few drones with no sign of eggs or queen in either. They are now drastically reduced in numbers of workers, though there are a number of drones.

I don't want to interfere with the warre and take eggs from there and my htbh is on now taking off so don't want to pinch anything from there either.

Is it to late to purchase and introduce a queen or will this just be wasted money. Have I just got to face up tho the fact I am going to have to suffer the loss?

I know I probably should have acted sooner, but the two swarms took ages to start lying as well.

Long term, I should say that I am aiming for all Top Bar Hives. Should I take this as a prompt to make some more? I just don't like the thought that I may have killed two healthy and expensive coloneys.

Help......!
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. How long is it since the nationals swarmed.

I find my parent colonies take a long time to come back into lay and can be broodless for 4 weeks or even slightly longer. That said, I don't remove queen cells. The last time I did remove QCs after the prime swarm, I was left with a colony that became queenless and subsequently developed laying workers. Unfortunately, it is a balance between waiting and seeing if the new queen is just taking her time, against the risk of laying works developing if you leave them too long.
I prefer to err on the side of the bees knowing more than me and leaving them to it as I can think of many more occasions when I've got it wrong, than when the bees have.
I appreciate that you had to fork out a lot for these colonies but you haven't actually lost them because you still have them in other hives starting anew and the hives, frames and comb that are left if the worst comes to the worst are still there to give a new colony a great start...you may get a late swarm to repopulate.... so try to step back from the financial concern and just go with the flow. If they are having an extended brood break then that is a good thing in my experience, because it reduces varroa population. It is not worth depleting your new swarm colonies when the old one may not need help. Just because you didn't see the new queen doesn't mean she isn't there.

As regards drones, there will still be plenty knocking about in other hives for months to come so don't worry about their numbers dwindling. I would watch them flying and see how they are behaving and check again in a week or so but try not to worry in the mean time.

Regards

Barbara
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara. One was first week of may, one was the second week. Not sure of exact dates as records not with me moment.

Still a beginner and worry a lot..... I did a 'traditional' course last year and still trying to lose some of the influences, hence knocking out the queen cells rather than leaving them.

I wish that there had been a local natural beekeeping course and could have a local mentor, I may have got off on the correct (for me) path then, rather than being influenced by stuff I don't agree with.

Yes I guess I still have two extra colonies which I guess is the main thing. Fingers crossed then. Will leave alone and see what happens.

The warre hive which you advised me about on here a couple of weeks ago is now looking amazing! Thank you again!
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was interested to see how someone with more experience than I answered this one!

If it's any consolation, barshambees, I found a similarly (apparently) queenless and eggless situation here - but after a split when I did the opposite: ie didn't take out all but one queen cell aside!

I hope yours come good. (I decided to steal a small patch of eggs for them from another colony.)
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lessons for this week.....Bees know best, stop interfering and be patient......

OK ....

First one ..... Tick

Second one ....... SO hard as a beginner not to go and have another nosey....

Third one ...... Has got to be the hardest thing for me. I am so impatient and worry woirry worry......

Think Ibshould have taken up painting or something LOL !
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rather than cut out and destroy all the other queen cells, what would have been best would have been to place those frames in a nuc and shake in a few extra bees as an insurance policy.

How long after the swarm did you take out the queen cells? There is always a danger of leaving the hive queenless as sometimes hatched queen cells can be resealed after a worker has crawled in to clean it out and of course some may just not be viable. So placing the spare ones in a nuc to hatch out and mate then gives you a spare to use if need be or a nuc to possibly sell or pass on to another new beekeeper.

Whilst I love the simplicity of TBHs, and the way bees can make of them what they want, I don't have a problem with National hives and they have their uses. I may have picked it up wrong but it's about how you manage your bees more than the box they are in, so I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss them or blame them for what you perceive may be going wrong in your hives. The main drawback to Nationals is the weight you have to be able to lift at this time of year. I'm definitely not as strong as I used to be! My oldest treatment free colonies are in Nationals so they can't be too bad.

Pleased to hear you are happier with your Warre colony now.
Yes patience and gaining trust in your bees are both very difficult attributes to attain but very beneficial. I still worry, but I worry and watch and wait until I don't need to worry anymore. Worrying and watching are easy, the waiting is less so!
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Barbara, I gave the wrong impression. I wasn't blaming or slating the Nationals at all. I was kicking myself for taking out all the queen cells. I did this two days after there swarmed.I wish I had had the foresight to make up a nuc just in case or just let them do there own thing.

I can see a place for the Nationals and may still keep the ones I have. But after seeing them in HTBH and seeing how little they are disturbed when you take a nosey, I feel happier going in this direction.

I may of course change my mind again later in the season.....haha!

Thanks again
Andy

Must learn patience, must learn patience........
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with leaving all the queen cells is that they can swarm themselves to nothing. It's not a common occurrence in my experience but it has happened to me once. Of course, if you are lucky, you collect all the swarms and make lots of increase in stocks, but end up with no honey harvest and lots of colonies of bees, some of which may need help to over winter.....but which swarm next year and each produce more colonies.... and it can all get rather out of hand!

What I'm saying is that some management may be appropriate in certain circumstances and making a nuc or two up in that situation is probably the best way to go.

I agree regarding checking on hTBHs. It makes it very unobtrusive and that is one of the beauties of them, but viewing windows can be incorporated into vertically stacked hives to allow similar observation with minimal disturbance.

Anyway, good luck with them and I hope they allay your worries soon.
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CeeBee
Foraging Bee


Joined: 16 Jun 2013
Posts: 104
Location: UK, Cambridge, Milton

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had my own first experience of doing splits after a prime swarm has gone during the past month or so.

First hive swarmed just as I was about to put my 'artificial swarm' plan into action. They had so many queen cells, and me being more interested in 'propagating' and 'experimenting' than just having the maximum number of bees for honey, couldn't resist splitting what was left. I divided into 3 - two ends of the original hive, and a 'flower-pot', leaving most of the queen cells - so plenty in each. Success rate (i.e. produced a laying queen) was 2 out of 3 - quite possibly they issued some cast swarms, as there were indeed some swarms in the garden, and they didn't come from my other hive. I united the queenless lot with a tiny swarm which at least had a laying queen.

I'd only just 'adopted' another hive, on another site, and found on inspection that it must have swarmed. This time, I split what was left into 2 (original hive, plus flower-pot), and reduced the queen cells to 2-3 in each. Success rate this time was 1 out of 2. I've given the queenless ones a couple of combs of eggs/larvae to make whatever they like of - not checked on result yet.

So total 'score' for my splits was 3 out of 5, assuming I waited long enough. And if the 'queenless' ones did in fact have a queen, well I didn't do them any harm by giving them one (or eggs/larvae).

Incidentally, I tried a tip from the BBKA mag on testing for queenless-ness. Place a caged queen from another colony on the top bars (with gap for access, obviously). If the workers show lots of 'friendly interest', they'd probably like to have her (or another queen). That's what mine did. Apparently they can also show either indifference, or agression, which might suggest they already have a queen they're happy with.
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barshambees
Nurse Bee


Joined: 26 Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Location: UK/Suffolk/Beccles

PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that's a bit weird. I was just wondering if you could do that.

If you did that..... Say from a strong colony splitting it two or three ways... Does it matter where the queen ends up if all three end up with at least one or two queen cells and a decent amount of stores, or does the queen HAVE to stay in the original box?
Obviously the flying beasties would end up back in the same box.
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