I think I've lost the queen in one of my hives. I haven't seen her in the last couple of inspections. I noticed a couple of queen cells, so I decided to wait and see if a new queen hatched. It's been 3 weeks and there's no sign that either of the 2 queen cells has been opened. There's no sign that I can see of new eggs on the frames, just mature larva and capped brood. I think I may need to purchase a new queen. Do you have any or know where I can get one?
Before requeening you will need to make sure that the hive is queenless. One test to make sure they're queenless would be to add a frame with eggs from another hive and see if they make queen cells. If they do, you are 100% sure and can bring a new queen.
This Saturday we will have the last field day for 2018 Backyard Beekeepers Class and we will be covering combining weak hives, requeening, and getting the hives ready for winter.
By the end of the class, we may know for sure if we have an extra queen. We still have a couple of backup queens we made during the season that have not used yet and they will either be used up or be up for a new home, as part of the BBA queen exchange program (it's going to be free as long as you are BBA paid member and promise you will make one or two backup queens in 2019 for your own use or to help someone else).
If you are not in that class, you can still come to our yard at about 10:30 am and if the queen is available you can catch her and bring her home (please bring protective gear). If you are in the class, we will see you at 9:00 am.
Ok, I’ll add a frame from my other hive. Would they make queen cells by Saturday?
They will get cells started right away if they're queenless. By Saturday you could see the frame and notice if they are starting any queen cells, before introducing another queen there.
Just make sure the frame you add has eggs (they cannot start a queen from older larvae).
I checked again using a lighted magnifying glass yesterday and found that the hive I was worried about did have eggs in a couple of frames so I won't be needing a new queen after all. Thanks for your help. I do plan to be at the class Saturday morning.
That's good news!
When a new queen starts laying, it's harder to see the queen activity.
The eggs are harder to see than larva. Once she has been laying eggs for a while, you can see bigger larva and as you go to the smaller larva in the frame, you will bring eggs (the fatter, easier to see larvae helps you find the eggs).
But with just eggs, some frames look blank.
Hi, I'm back again with a problem with the same hive. We did an inspection Sunday, didn't see the queen. I saw multiple eggs in some cells in a couple of frames. We checked every frame in both brood boxes and I didn't see any normal eggs this time. I took a frame with eggs from my queenright hive and placed it in the first hive. I just checked again this afternoon and the bees haven't built any queen cells on the new frame. I was reading that if the colony has laying working bees they may not make a new queen and the only way to remedy this is to add frames with brood and a new queen. This is a colony that started from a package this spring, but has been the stronger of my two hives, the population is still very high. My other hive also has a lot of bees so I don't know if could combine them and have them fit in two deep boxes for the winter. What is my next step?
We'd recommend checking one more time, to see if you have any larva in worker cells.
If you had any fertilized eggs in worker cells, you should see worker larvae. If there is one (or more) drone layers, the workers tend to remove the eggs that are in worker cells (they'd keep one egg in a drone cell, but would remove all drone eggs from worker cells).
Also, were the eggs at the bottom of the cell or attached to the side walls?
There is still a (slim) chance that a new queen would lay many eggs in a single cell. She will stick those eggs to the bottom of the cell though, while a laying worker, with a shorter abdomen, would not reach the bottom and lay the eggs on the side walls.
If you have confirmation that the eggs are not from a mated queen, we'd be looking at a drone layer.
For resolving a drone layer, the first step will be to get rid of the drone layer before taking any other action.
Whether they're combined with other hive or introduced a new queen, the drone layer needs to be removed first, to prevent it from killing a mated queen.
Let us know if you have confirmation on a drone layer and we can try to suggest how to get rid of the laying worker/s before taking the next step.
Let me make sure I understand what I'm looking for. A single egg upright in the bottom of the cell indicates the queen definitely laid it. There's a possibility that a new queen could lay multiple eggs in a cell, but they would still be upright and at the bottom of the cell. If there is a drone layer the eggs would be attached to the side of cell walls (this is what I think I saw with my magnifying glass) If the worker bees are removing drone cells from the work bee cells there should be a lot of empty cells. I'll check again tomorrow and take some pictures.
I'm sure going to learn a lot the hard way my first year 🙁
Yes, you're right.
The eggs in the side wall of the cell is a good indicative of drone layer.
Many eggs at the bottom of a cell, could indicate a new, inexperienced queen.
If the colony has enough bees, they clean up the multiple egg situation and remove the exess eggs, leaving just one worker (fertilized) egg per cell. They will become worker larva. If you see one larvae per cell, that means that they're fixing things up.
If the eggs were laid by a drone layer in worker cells, they'd remove them all, because drone eggs should go on drone cells and not worker cells (the worker cells are not big enough).
When things get bag, the colony could be overwhelmed and they would stop removing the drone eggs and things get really messy and harder to read. In some case you could even get to see more than one larvae in a single sell, and that's also confirmation that the colony is not queen right and the one doing the egg-laying is a worker.
So, check for:
1- location of the eggs: side wall or bottom
2- presence of larvae (if any)
We checked the hive this morning and took some pictures. We found 1 frame with a few larva and about 6 frames with multiple eggs attached to the side walls and no normal eggs. I've attached some photos. I also included a photo of what I thought was a queen cell - it's been there for weeks, but nothing has happened to it so it's probably not. I also included a photo of the hive so you could get an idea of the population. Every frame in both deeps is covered with bees and we had to brush them off to get the pictures. They've got 7 frames of capped honey and several more frames that are filled with nectar and pollen so I'd really like to attempt to save the colony if possible.
We think that colony is queen right and just fine.
The number of bees looks pretty good.
The bunch of beeswax looks like burr comb. You can take it out and inspect the inside to make sure what was that.
We do not see multiple eggs in any of those pictures. The last picture seems to have some reflections or chunks of solids floating in nectar, but they're not bee eggs. Eggs are always in dry cells and the workers start adding royal jelly when the egg eclodes into larvae (after three days). Very young larvae is almost translucid and tiny (barely bigger than an egg). As the bees feed them, they get much bigger fast and turn a shiny white.
We can actually see female (worker or fertilized) eggs in your second picture. Those eggs are at the bottom of the cell, which means you should have a mated queen in that colony right now. Look at this section of one of your pictures:
The tiny white forms at the bottom of the cells are fertilized eggs, laid by a queen.
You have very young larva and some that are older and almost ready to be capped.
From our point of view, that is looking like a normal hive. You could check back in about one week to 10 days and you should have capped worker brood in that same frame. Those worker bees should be emerging about 21 days from now.
Thanks so much for putting my mind at ease. I wondered about eggs in the cells with nectar, good to know. We'll do another inspection in a week to recheck that frame with the larva and check for more capped brood, larva and eggs. We haven't spotted the queen in the last month, which is still concerning. My husband suggested we take a picture of each frame before we brush off any bees so we look at it more closely later and maybe spot the queen.
We're definitely learning a lot. Thanks for your help.
This is definitely a very good solution. it would also help you find the queen.