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Thread: Queen Failures

  1. #1

    Default Queen Failures

    Just joined the forum, so hello.
    This is my third year and my most unsuccessful year. Moved house last August with two colonies headed up by young queens. One locally mated in May last year (A) and one bought from a commercial bee farmer in August (B). Both over wintered and A got off to a roaring start through Feb, then failed in May. This led to laying workers. B built up slowly then also failed in May leading to queen less situation. I bought two queens locally and after splitting up the laying workers managed to get the queen accepted. She came into lay then stopped two weeks later, the workers dwindled and the hive was robbed out on Saturday by someone else's bees. B's hive must have had a virgin queen and B disappeared. The colony is now building fast but is in danger of the robbers targeting it next. I've closed up the entrance to a couple of bee spaces and can only hope for the best. I've read that it's more common for young queens to fail now. Any thoughts?
    Any advice?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    For your queen A that overwintered, bees would usually replace a queen that's failing (but not always). Regular inspections should tell you what's going on - whether there are supercedure cells or excessive drone brood. Or did she just stop laying? Laying workers would only develop after the brood had emerged and without a queen. And if you have laying workers, it's unlikely that you will be able to requeen them.
    For colony B, it's not uncommon for a beekeeper to introduce a queen and find her dead as there's already a virgin in there somewhere. Read this as a test to identify whether you have a queen in the hive or not. http://www.norfolkbee.co.uk/beekeepe...n-start-to-lay
    if you are worried about robbing, do you believe that robbing is taking place? if you are not sure simply close up the entrance at dusk tonight. If there are bees hanging around the entrance in the morning, then they will almost certainly be robbers. If so, you could leave the colony closed up for a couple of days to help deter them. If you do close them up, ensure that there is enough room for them - add a super if they are congested.
    I don't know if queen failures are more common now that a generation ago. Some say that this is the case. it is possible that some drones which are infected by viruses due to varroa mate with queens that means that they fail. I have had a few queens in the past that just stopped laying and I have seen early supercedure too. Although nosema could also be responsible.
    Last edited by Adam; 13-06-2017 at 09:15 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    I have had a few queens just disappear this year leaving behind emergency queen cells.
    No idea why.

  4. #4

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    Hi Adam, thanks for the reply.
    It's great to be a junior again at 63!
    It seems that A was laying really well very early in the Spring and the colony was building well. Then I was unable to check for a few weeks (working long hours and weekends were wet or cold) and next check I found no eggs or brood and later laying workers. There was no evidence of an attempt to raise a queen. I did manage to requeen - I moved the colony across the garden and allowed the flyers back into a new hive. The introduced queen was accepted but after a couple of weeks ceased laying. The flyers dwindled and the hive then robbed out.
    Queen B disappeared - I can only assume seen off by an unnoticed virgin. The colony is now building well but I've not found the queen - they are "runners" on the comb and difficult to inspect. Having closed down to a two bee space entrance the robbers have given up and peace is restored. So all is not lost.
    I have a bait hive out and a nuc on order as I'm determined to get to three colonies into the Winter - then I'll have more strength in depth next Spring. Or at least that's the theory!
    Thanks again for your reply. I have experienced a very different set of circumstances since moving into the countryside, including now a lack of forage in a green desert!
    All the best,

  5. #5

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    Hi Jon try Dave Cushman's site - he discusses possible causes of queen failures in some depth, but doesn't reach a conclusion - but requests folk to research the subject. Worth a read and food for thought.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Hi
    Roger Patterson runs the Dave Cushman site now and I am well aware of the queen issues he has been reporting the past few years. you can always get the odd queen just go missing but I have never seen such a number go awol in a short time before.

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Poot View Post
    I have experienced a very different set of circumstances since moving into the countryside, including now a lack of forage in a green desert!
    Really? In Dorset?

  8. #8

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    Hi Prakrit, unfortunately yes; I'm in an area of fields for cattle, grass for silage and so on. In a valley too so my bees didn't benefit from the osr on the tops. I can now appreciate how bees can do better in semi urban areas than the countryside. I'm hoping the brambles in the many hedgerows will give a nectar surplus.

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    Poor Dave's site is not what it was sadly.

    There are always going to be problems with queens, let's be honest please. They undertake risky flights (birds) suffer under or poor matings and then we expect them to be lovely egg laying machines. It's not a perfect world, never has been and never will. If I have a nicely performing queen I thank the beekeeping gods and make sure I have a few queens in hand as spares.

    PH

  10. #10
    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poly Hive View Post
    If I have a nicely performing queen I thank the beekeeping gods and make sure I have a few queens in hand as spares.
    Very sound approach which would be hard to beat!

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