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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Dilemma of the Possibly Queenless Swarm


When you get a small swarm, it sometimes is an after swarm. When a hive swarms, about half the hive leaves and the queen goes with the swarm. They leave behind enough bees to keep the hive going and either a virgin queen or a queen about to emerge. Sometimes in a large hive, there are several after swarms, each containing a virgin queen.

When I got the small swarm on Tuesday the 8th, the bees in the box put their rear ends up in the air to signal the rest of the bees that the queen momma was in the box. However, she may not have made the box journey well or she may have been injured in the transfer from cardboard box to hive body.

I opened the small swarm on Friday and there was no sign of laying. The workers were drawing out comb, but syrup was being stored and no eggs were anywhere. This could mean the queen is a virgin queen and won't be laying for a while since she will have to make her mating flight and return safely to the hive.

One way to deal with this is to put a frame of brood and eggs from another hive into this hive. If they need a queen, they can then make one from the eggs. If there is a queen, they won't need to use the eggs to make a queen and the brood that emerges from the borrowed frame will simply enhance the hive.

I wanted to do this and took a frame from Bermuda to add to the small hive. The frame from Bermuda had eggs, young brood, capped brood and three queen cells on it. Two of the queen cells were opened at the bottom, indicating that the queen had emerged. The third cell in the center of the picture was whole.

I chose this frame because of the queen cell, but I don't know if it were a good idea or not. My thought was that if the hive were queenless, they would gain time on getting a new queen because this one would emerge soon. However if there is a queen in the hive, I guess I wasted a perfectly good queen cell. Anyway, I don't know what the answer was to this problem. If I had it to do again, I'd probably only add a frame with brood and eggs.
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2 comments:

  1. what if the swarm was put into the hive from a wild collection and the queen didn't arrive with the swarm and you don't have any other bees to take a frame out and add it to the hive? Will the bees leave or will they stick around for a while and give me a week to order a queen form mail-order?

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  2. If you can find someone to give you a frame of brood and eggs, the pheromones generated by the brood will keep the bees in the hive and they will have the resources to make a new queen cell or two.

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