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Zero comb two days after package installation

 
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:01 pm    Post subject: Zero comb two days after package installation Reply with quote

In a new but weathered Phil-spec'ed Kenyan hive, I installed a package Sunday and suspended the queen cage dead center. The poor girl had no attendants and was still coated with the powdered sugar I'd doused the fresh package with Saturday. Yesterday/Tuesday I peeked into the side and noticed the bees' center of mass was 2 bars over from the centered cage. This seemed suspicious, so I removed the now empty bee-covered cage. I didn't yet look for a dead queen on the bottom. A queen "includer" is outside the entrance.

Lack of patience and suspicion led me to gently check if their initial comb was straight. I was shocked to find no comb at all, not a drop. The bees are unsettled but not defensive, normal at this state I believe. They drank 2 cups of syrup Monday and Tuesday. Is it possible things are going okay with no comb after 2 days, or is it time to urgently seek a new queen?

Many thanks!
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Robert
Guard Bee


Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 66
Location: USA, Spring Branch, Texas

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What type of bottom do you have, Screened, solid?
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not personally experienced with packages but that doesn't sound good. Were there attendants in the queen cage before you dusted them and did she appear alive at that time? Is she marked? I'm guessing that would make her pretty easy to find on the hive floor rather than disturb the cluster too much again.

I would give them another couple of days and then get a new queen if they have still not made any progress.

Good luck

Barbara
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Screened bottom. No attendants were in the cage with her. I couldn't tell if she was marked because she was still covered in the previous day's powdered sugar dusting. Gently detecting potential early cross-combing was my concern, and I didn't think to check for a dead queen till afterward.

Thank you both!
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Robert
Guard Bee


Joined: 28 Dec 2010
Posts: 66
Location: USA, Spring Branch, Texas

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you pulled the queen cage out of the package was there a good cluster of bees balled around it? How many bars have you given them? How difficult would it be to close the bottom of the hive up? I've had a problem here in central Texas with screened bottoms. After I closed up the bottoms the absconding issue went away. Like Barbara said I would watch them a couple of more days then make a decision. Good luck.
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cluster around the cage was pretty light, bad news I guess. I used 7 bars to start the 3 pounder. I have a base closure ready, so maybe I'll put that on my next chance tomorrow night. Thanks!
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

was she in a cage sealed with candy??
was that still intact or chewed through?
if open, then I would say she's in there somewhere, are your top bars coated with wax?
I've had bee swarms take around a week before any comb was built, I'd give it a few more days, are they flying in/out
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbounds, I'm just down the street from you. Want some help?

Ron
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cage was cork only. I stuck most of a mini-marshmallow in the hole at install. The fact that you've had swarms take that long before starting comb is great news to me. My limited experience always showed comb commencing almost right away. They are flying in and out a bit but mostly just milling, along with rushing back and forth to the feeder thru the cork hole in the follower.

Based on all the good info, I think I'll hold tight till Thursday eve and subtly check for a dead queen then. Thanks to all!
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

if bugs has offered some help, why not see if he has a piece of drawn comb he could give you, it could be fixed to a top bar in a manner of ways, then rather than disturbing the bees looking for a queen, you can just check the comb for eggs?
also having comb in the hive, may start them building more
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thought. I'll PM tomorrow. Thanks for that idea!
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today, day 4 after install:
Checked for dead queen and didn't see one.
Closed up bottom temporarily per advice.
Saw just 1 of 50-100 bees go in with pollen.
Fanning still happening when bars replaced.

I just forgot how crazy package bees can be vs turnkey swarms.

My guess now is to wait another day or two as opposed to buying another queen. If anyone recommends grabbing the queen tomorrow instead of Monday, please shout.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would certainly wait till Monday but the pollen is a very good sign. Watch for an increase in that ratio over the weekend. They won't collect pollen without having comb and brood, so unless those bees came with that pollen in the package and by now it would almost certainly have been lost, I would say you are in business.
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbounds,

Barbara is correct. Pollen going in means they expect babies soon. Good news.

I'm curious, are you in the city of El Dorado Hills? Or up in the foothills? I haven't been past Folsom for a while, but my impression is the foothills are pretty much past the prime nectar flow. Some of the folks in the club up in your area are already talking about supplementing with pollen patties. If you're in the city then you'll have privets, Tallow, Lindens, and other landscaping plants, but not much up in the hills.

You're welcome to come visit SABA each month and I think the El Dorado club meets in Placerville. Lots of good sources of info.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugscouter wrote:
bbounds,

Barbara is correct. Pollen going in means they expect babies soon. Good news.

.


I'm sorry, but it does not, a queenless hive will still bring in pollen, it's what bees do

and can we call them by the correct name of eggs,larvae or brood, not babies Embarassed
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An established colony that becomes queenless may still bring pollen in but a new colony that is just setting up house will not bring pollen in until there is somewhere to store it and it is needed for brood.
I have hived many swarms and although some of the bees within the swarm may have full pollen baskets as they start swarming, they don't collect pollen until they have built comb and have brood to feed.

I respectfully reject your suggestion that bees collect pollen just for the sake of it or because "it's what bees do"....my experience has been that they collect it in response to a need. This is often seen with a cast swarm that takes about 10 days from hiving to start bringing pollen in because it takes time for the queen to be mated and start laying, whereas a prime swarm often brings pollen in on day 1 or 2.... basically as soon as they have comb for the queen to lay into.
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Dexter's shed
Scout Bee


Joined: 16 May 2014
Posts: 307
Location: Grays, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my first swarm that I caught,and housed in a top bar nuc were queenless from the start, they built comb ands were bringing in pollen, giving me the impression that everything was ok, maybe the bees down here are different,lol,

ask ten beeks a question, you'll get eleven different answers
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2015 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in Serrano, worst and best case. CC&Rs, association fees, likely pesticide bathing, and Mello-Roos taxes contribute to the worsts. Random landscaping flows year-round contribute to bests. Maybe I'll make it to one of those Pville meetings. Thanks for the invitation!

This morning the girls are marching in with pollen, probably 1 in 2. I'm now very optimistic. I think closing the base temporarily was key, turning their behavior. Packages are just nutty aren't they? Now, the mystery of how they started combing awaits. I'm sensing something weird is underway in there...
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just checked, and there is nice straight comb, honey, and pollen but not a single egg. It's the 7th day since package install. Hmm? Seems very wrong to me.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you absolutely sure....Eggs are very, very difficult to see in pristine white comb.
If there really are no eggs/larvae then something probably is wrong but I'm pretty confident you will see capped brood if you check again in another week or so, especially now that they have ramped up pollen intake.
I say this because I have been in the same situation where I really could not see eggs in my first TBH (framed hives are easier because you can tilt the frames until you get the angle right for sunlight to fall into the bottom of the comb) Like you I was convinced there were no eggs but a week later I had a nice patch of newly sealed brood and larvae surrounding it

Give them some peace and quiet and just monitor activity at the entrance. If they are coming and going with purpose and continue to take pollen in, then I would not worry.
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Bugscouter
Silver Bee


Joined: 19 Mar 2012
Posts: 808
Location: USA/California/ Sacramento

PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2015 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just went through the same thing. I checked on a split two weeks ago. I knew they raised a new queen and she should have been laying, but I couldn't see a thing. But there was pollen going in so I closed them up and waited. A week later they had sealed brood.

Bbounds, I don't think I would hesitate to supplement their feeding this year. I don't mean replace natural food, but we're really going to need to take of the girls that will raise the winter bees. Some of the beeks up in your area started feeding in June last year and said they wished they had started earlier. It also seemed like the drones were gone in May last year.

This fourth year of exceptional drought is going to be an experiment for all of us.
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. Just checked, and eggs just started, 12 days in, or maybe a day or three ago. Yea! But no larva. Surprising. I really really...want to pull off my homemade queen "includer," but a package absconded on me a few years ago. Can't talk myself into it. Lots of comb, just a little crossed-over in the s-curve fashion. They gulped about 10 cups of 1:1 syrup already, and I was planning to stop but won't yet. I love this forum. Thanks to all of you for coaching![/img]
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My concern with your scenario is that perhaps you had a virgin queen that was related to the workers loose in the package as well as the caged queen which of course would be unrelated. I have seen a video of how these packages are produced and there doesn't seem to be any attention to detail as regards what the status quo of the donor colonies is.

That might explain why she had no attendants in the cage and why they clustered away from the cage in the hive, instead of around it and were so slow to get started, with no brood for so long.
My worry would be whether a virgin queen could make it through your "queen includer" and back for a mating flight and if not then she will be drone laying. That's if my suspicion is accurate of course. The virgin queens I have seen have not been significantly bigger than workers so hopefully if this is the case, she has been successfully mated. I guess we will never know, unless you turn out to have a drone layer and I seriously hope that is not the case.

Good to hear that things are looking more promising now though.
Keep us posted

Regards

Barbara
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the same concern and am still remotely suspicious. I took pics, and all 40-50 cells I can study include a single egg more or less centered. That adds much hope that it just took the gang extra long to feel comfortable. There's lots of comb, honey, and pollen, and they're mostly working in an orderly fashion. They are still a bit squirrelly, however, so I will watch them closely till capped worker brood is produced. Thanks so much for your coaching!
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bbounds
Nurse Bee


Joined: 30 Mar 2009
Posts: 41
Location: USA, California, El Dorado Hills (NorCal)

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Closing this topic:
I saw the first few capped worker brood last night, so they're in the clear!

Backward math says it took 8 days for the queen to start laying.

Thanks again to all the coaching, and happy beekeeping summer.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1582
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2015 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Delighted to hear that things are looking good now after that early hiccup.
I guess we will never know the reason why but hopefully we can at least use this experience to reassure the next person who is worried when their package bees don't perform as they expect.

Wishing you lots of success with them now.

Regards

Barbara
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