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Excessive drones after a TBH split

 
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bildom
House Bee


Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Goshen, CT, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 07, 2016 7:20 pm    Post subject: Excessive drones after a TBH split Reply with quote

I split a TBH on May 10. Took the original queen and a few bars of brood/bees for the split. The split is doing very well. The original hive was left to raise a new queen. During this time, I inspected only enough to observe that the hive had a capped queen cell and went no further. Inspected today (to see if I could see any eggs/larvae) and the first thing I noticed was a huge number of drones. As it turns out, there were approx. 10 queen cells hatched out. I did not see a queen or eggs, but as I continued, I realized that the entire population of the hive seems to be 90% drones. I've never seen or heard of this. I'm still on the early side of a laying queen, so I can wait a bit more, but am really puzzled about how to proceed with this enormous drone population.
Some options I've thought of if I don't have a laying queen in a week or so: 1. Do a newspaper combine with the original hive and the healthy split 2. Introduce a mated queen (I have one available a week from today 3. Shake out a large number of drones from the original hive before I do 1 or 2. A fellow TB beek suggested taking all honey/nectar out of the hive in hopes of getting the workers to kick the drones out.
I'm just perplexed by this large number of drones and small number of workers. Perhaps this hive swarmed sometime during the queen rearing process, leaving most of the drones behind? Any input is greatly appreciated. BTW, I'm in CT in the US. Thanks in advance - Bill
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tricky.. is there any brood?
eggs or larvae

Sometimes following a split there can appear to be a lot of drone brood or drones as they are the last ones to hatch out. BUT if a queen has failed to mate they will may become a drone layer but then you would see the brood. It is unlikely at this early time that you would have a laying worker.

If you have another hive you could transfer a comb of young larvae/eggs from that may be a good idea as it:
a) If queenless suppresses laying workers.
b) If queenless gives them a chance to raise another queen.
c) May trigger a young recently mated queen to start laying.
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bildom
House Bee


Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Goshen, CT, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was quite a bit of drone brood before the split but everything is hatched out. No brood of any kind. There's not a laying worker - no eggs or larvae of any kind. I checked carefully.
It's entirely possible that the queen isn't mated yet and things might improve.
If I decide to provide a queen next week, any thoughts on whether or not to try and shake out some of the drones first?
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Barbara
Site Admin


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

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How close did you place the hive containing the split with the original queen, to the original hive? If next to each other, it could be possible that the majority of the workers have drifted to the queenright colony next door? And the drones have been attracted to this hive because of the virgin queens about to require their services.

Another possibility is that you did an uneven split and left mostly drone brood (possibly from a failing queen) in the original hive and took mostly worker brood for the split?

So many factors that could contribute to such a scenario.

I agree with AugustC in that I would transfer some young worker brood back from the split with the original queen to help redress the balance and give them the opportunity to raise a new queen if they need to.

Personally I would leave the drone population to sort itself out, but I'm becoming more of a "bees know best" beekeeper as the years go by and feel that there may be a very valid reason why they are there.
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bildom
House Bee


Joined: 12 Feb 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Goshen, CT, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you August and Barbara. A lot to think about. The original queen, which was removed from the original hive is in the split, and is doing very well. The split and original hive were in the same bee yard so maybe some of the workers joined the split. This is a hive that I'm helping to manage, so I don't check it as often as my own. Since I'm still on the early side for a laying queen, I'll give it more time. In the meantime, I'll put a bar of brood/larvae/eggs in the parent hive from the split and hope they figure it out. I very much appreciate the feedback.
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