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Queen but no brood

 
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:41 pm    Post subject: Queen but no brood Reply with quote

Hello fellow travellers.

This spring I discovered that two of my hives had queens (I year olds based upon the ID color) but no brood. I immediately donated a frame of fresh brood from another hive hoping that they would raise a new queen to supercede the existing queen. So far, that hasn't happened and their numbers are dwindling rapidly.

I believe I have only two options but want to ensure I am not overlooking the obvious.

1) Kill the two queens and then donate more fresh brood to allow the colony to raise a new queen.

2) Purchase or raise new queens.

Since I am not currently equipped (both time and kit) to raise queens I am leaning toward option #1.

Any thoughts?

Cheers

dK
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think UKip / Brexit stole my audience...
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

This is a very odd situation which is perhaps why you have no replies... to have 1 hive with a queen (particularly a marked queen) and no brood would be unusual.....to have 2 at the same time suggests there is something seriously wrong.

Can you give us some background to these colonies? ie When started and with what...package, nuc or swarm? When did you last inspect and see brood? Do they have plenty of stores? Have you treated them with anything? What is the local forage like?

I would expect a failing queen to lay drone brood at least initially.

After swarming season. my parent colonies often have a holiday and don't produce any new brood for 3 or 4 weeks but that is with a virgin queen taking over... clearly this is not the case with your hives since these queens are marked. Are you sure there were no eggs and you just didn't see them?

My gut instinct is that bees do things for a reason.... the fact that they didn't raise a new queen when you gave them brood is odd but suggests that they don't need one..... I am loath to advocate regicide at the best of times but without knowing the full situation with these hives I would not encourage it.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


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

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, usually a colony with a "failing" queen would be perfectly capable of superceding her. One good egg and they're away. A younger queen who has run out of fertilised eggs would lay drones as Barbara says. Either way both colonies would have plenty of queen/play cups showing their intention and the colony would be packed with stores due to extra foragers where the bees don't have brood to look after.
I have seen my queens stop laying for periods in June when there is a serious derth. Have you consider offering a 1:1 syrup to see if this stimulates the queen back to laying?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would agree that a dearth can trigger this which is why I asked about local forage.

It may also be a system they are developing to reduce varroa mite population. Perhaps if they have not been allowed to swarm and have a brood break in that respect, then they may just be taking a break anyway.

Your idea of dwindling may not be anywhere near my idea of dwindling as far as colony size is concerned. Colonies can recover from some pretty tiny populations in my experience, although they don't produce an excess honey harvest of course.
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Barbara and AugustC. Here is the history in a nutshell.

I purchased two packages of Italians from a reputable beek Spring of 2015. By mid-July both hives (#11 and #12) were bursting at the seams. I split both hives to give them more room. All my hives are numbered and here is what the split yielded: #11->#13 and #12->#14.

This year #12 and #14 are doing well. #11 and #13 are the two which are failing. When I inspected #13 on 1 June it had a queen with light blue marking which is the original queen. #11 had a queen with no marking due to the split.

Nectar flow is good and increasing. Pollen excellent. All of my Carniolan colonies are doing quite well and have an abundance of uncapped honey.

I inspected #13 a Monday week and noticed they had built 4 queen cells from the brood I donated from #12. On Sunday I noticed the workers tearing down the queen cells and pulling larvae out of one of them. I plan to perform a very careful inspection tomorow mid-day to look for a queen and also brood.

I have not treated with anything ever. Both have plenty of stores and the wildflowers are in abundance. So far, I have not had any issues with mites.

I have not offered syrup but I will consider that option as I fear I am running out of time. #11 is down to one side of a comb of bees.

Thanks again!

dK
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, that does sound dire!

Really odd that one even made queen cells, populated them and then destroyed them!

If they still have no brood and they are that small then I guess your options are as you initially outlined although there is a third option to do nothing, but it sounds like they may be doomed in that instance.
Interesting that these two hives are mother and daughter and I wonder if there is a genetic factor to this failure.

I was wondering if the one with the unmarked queen (No11) might have swarmed between your 1st June inspection and a week Monday, but it would have had to swarm and cast to be so small by now and there would be hatched queen cells visible if that was the case.

I think I would be inclined to recombine them and try again with brood from another hive assuming there is no improvement on your inspection today and feed them as the foragers will be getting old and need all the help they can get.

Good luck

Barbara
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, too, wonder about the possibility of genetic failure. I've never seen anything like it before.

I like the option of recombining the two hives. I'll post an update after my inspection today.

Ian
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