Not a good Bee Mama, I guess

On June 1, my friend and I did a hive inspection. One hive had a virgin queen, one was queenless, 1 had a queen that died of shock while she was being marked, and 1 was truly Queenright. We hoped the virgin queen would make her mating flight and return to provide brood, shifted a couple of frames of brood around to queenless hives with queen cells on them, and waited to see results. Yesterday, I went to inspect them alone. Three hives have no eggs, no larvae, two with good population, the third not so good, the 4th hive thriving with a marked queen. A message was sent to Son2, the bee owner, but didn’t hear back from him. Messaged my friend and posted on the local bee keeper’s forum and it was suggested to shift frames again, look for queen cells, wait and hope they make new queens.

Another inspection with intervention will occur this week, maybe tomorrow before the heat dome returns to cook us. I feel bad that this has happened, but am at a loss as to a solution. We may have to reintroduce new queens to the three hives and hope for success. Three of the hives are or have been making honey and the honey supers on those hives are heavy.

I fear that the weakest hive has a worker layer as there are lots of drone cells in that hive and that is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, the beginner beekeeper class occurred before I knew there would be hives here, so I missed it this year. A couple of the keepers offered to come put another set of eyes on the situation, but today is Father’s Day and other plans had already been put in place.

Son2 is due here this week at the end of their vacation, I hope he has time to inspect while he is here and can offer guidance.

4 thoughts on “Not a good Bee Mama, I guess”

  1. Once a queen emerges from her cell, it can take up to four weeks before she is mature enough to mate and start laying. Wait wait wait.

    A thriving hive can have many drone cells, so long as there are regular worker larvae etc, don’t worry. If there is a functioning queen present, you cannot have a worker bee laying eggs – the presence of the queen suppresses the ability of the workers to lay.
    I used to ‘trap’ drone brood with a drone frame. Once it was full, or they were about to emerge, I would swap the frame out for an empty one, and scrape all the drone from the full one to the chickens. They know protein when they see it. (There’s a bit of ‘ick’ factor cleaning those frames) but once clean can be reused.
    Sometimes I leave things alone and let them have their drones. They all get evicted in the fall anyway.

    1. That gives me some hope. Most of the queen cells were on the bottom hanging down. I’m hoping son will be here long enough to help me inspect. The hive with all the drone cells has no other larva, which is why I suspect a worker layer in that hive. I will look carefully at frames I move for new eggs if I don’t see potential queen cells in those hives. I have done the yuk factor of scraping off drone cells from the edge of a frame and the chickens loves it.

  2. On your next inspection, it won’t hurt to move frames with eggs to the hives you think still might be queenless. The eggs must be less than three days old though, or they can’t raise them as future queens. Look for eggs that are still upright, or just laid over. The frames with the queen cells, take a look at those cells. If they’ve been opened on the bottom, then a new queen was released. Queen cells on the ‘face’ of the frame are ‘emergency’ queen cells (queen suddenly died etc). Queen cells on the bottom of the frame hanging down, are produced when a queen is failing. Queen cells along the top edge of the frame…the bees are messing with your head 😏

  3. At the risk of being long wi fed again – I used to trap drone if the mite count was high. Mites prefer to lay their eggs in drone cells because they are larger – I believe they lay five (?) eggs per drone cell. In theory, trapping drone before they emerge – bye bye to at least that many varroa mites.

I would love to hear your comments on this post.

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