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3
4
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
I have this sinking feeling that I'm in way over my head. Have been thinking for several years to get into bee keeping. Visited the local club and did a couple of weekend hive visits and this spring, 24 Sept, picked up a box with 10 frames of good healthy brood and bees, a feeder and a couple of supers from a local bee keeper. Suit and tools were bought online (covid restrictions) and Practicle Beekeeping book ordered. The suit and tools arrived soon after but the book took several weeks. The hive was strong and was building fast. I kept a 10 day check cycle and topped up feeder, plus keeping a diary. Notice bees bearding out front, it was hot weather around this time.
10 Oct - checking feeder and hive. Notice a couple of queen cells and take photos and send to bee keeper I bought hive from.
11 Oct - He informed me I had a queen hatch. He proposed I pick up a nuc from him and remove old queen with 2 frames of brood and place in nuc. Reinspected hive 1 fand tried to spot new queen . No luck. Removed verroa strips and other queen cells and placed 2 empty comb frames to replace the removed ones. Put a queen excluder and super on top plus a full feeder on top.
Leave for 2 weeks to settle down and nuc for 3 weeks and plan to move into new full box in 1 month.
25 Oct - A bout of bad wether for the next 11 days. Missed checking hive because of rain. Was away in local town doing pick and collect when I get a text from my wife that Hive 1 had swarmed. Picked up swarm net from bee keeper plus 3 more boxes. Failed to collect swarm with net as quite high up an Ash tree. Swam was on two branches and one snapped from the weight. Had a semi successful capture and emptied into new brood box with a queen excluder on the bottom.
26 Oct - The next morning the swam was back up the tree. Tried again with another net modified to wrap more around the vertical branch with more success. Dropped into box again.
Observations - Some swarm left in the tree but was gone by the next morning and Hive 3 looked busy with bees cleaning out old comb from the frames. Hive 1 was still looking active so can only assume with my lack of experience that half the hive was still intact.
So now I have 2 full hives and a nuc with the original queen. Was there a queen in the swarm? I can only assume there was and did this leave Hive 1 without a queen?
You can see I am now treading water and am well out of my depth.

Bee keeper suggested I remove 2 frames of brood to place in H3 with new swarm. Inspecting H1 for for this there appeared to be no brood at all. This I found quite alarming and confusing. I would leave this for 10 days under more relaxed conditions to establish if there in indeed no queen or no larvae or pupae.
27 Oct - Check Hive 2 (nuc) All in order with good brood and nectar.
31 Oct - Check hive 3 and try to find queen. No luck there. Bees busy cleaning out old comb. Removed queen excluder. H2 (nuc) left for now. Hive 1 inspection. Ants nesting in top inner cover and cockroaches. Supers being filled. Cleaned wax build up off queen excluder which I had put in up-side-down. Inspected brood box - found two hatched queen cells and two unhatched. Did not find any queen. I'm told they can be difficult to spot to the untrained eye (such as mine).
Still no evidence of eggs or larvae? There is pollen and nectar being collected.
2 Nov - Speaking with the bee keeper he suggests placing a brood frame from the nuc into H3 to stimulate queen.
5-6 Nov - observing from a distance there is little activity in H3. Lifted lid to discover it had emptied out apart from a dozen or so remaining bees. Plenty of questions: So why did the hive leave? Was there ever a queen ?
10 Nov - Checked H3, still empty. Brood dying off - for obvious reasons.

The Practical Beekeepers book did arrive and I aim rapidly playing catch-up. I am now back to 2 hives. Hive 1 with unknown queen and the nuc with original queen looking strong. Should this be returned to Hive 1 if I can't find a queen there?

Apologies for lengthy thread but some helpful suggestions would be warmly welcomed.
 

yesbut

Staff member
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Nelson
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H3 would've left & joined a queen right hive.
Don't worry about looking for Queen, look for eggs, or young brood. And if no sign, yes combine nuc.
 
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Bron

Staff member
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Welcome to the forum @Stephen Horsley. Beekeeping is a weird and wonderful hobby/occupation. You have indeed had trial of out of frying pan and into the fire. Virgin Queens are often sneaky, very agile and indeed hard to spot.
The bees are also quite forgiving of most of the things we try to do to them.

As yes but has said it’s easier to spot eggs than the Queen, however a couple of tips are to look for blank spaces about 1/2 the size of an old fifty cent piece. As you look at the frame do it like you’re skim reading, try not to focus on anything, after that have a slow sweep round the outside and then into the middle of the frame. Then slowly flip it over and do the same on the other side. New Italian bees (gold) are shiny.

Good luck with your girls. Don’t be shy about coming back to ask more questions. Read your practical beekeeping chapter on swarming a couple of times. It’s a cracker of a book for newbies. I’ve got mine on kindle too so I can read it while I’m waiting places. Over ten years of beekeeping and I still learn something new everyday.
 
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Mummzie

Staff member
Gold
1,114
990
Tasman
Experience
Hobbyist
Welcome Stephen. You certainly have had an exciting introduction.
Its always good to have a spare hive, and a nuc is good for a beginner to watch it grow.
Take a good read of the section about the queens development. Hive 1 will likely have a new queen, hatched round 26 oct. She should have had her mating flights by now and have begun laying if she got back safely etc, I would give it a couple of weeks before deciding its queenless.

Don't worry about the cockroaches- a hive tool deals to them if you are quick enough. You could try putting a few handfuls of fresh grass on the crown board to deter the ants.
 
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Reactions: Grant
3
4
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
Thank you all for your replies, it is reassuring. There is a couple of days rain forecast so will inspect after this. Great tip on spotting for a queen Bron and yes agree it will be easyier to spot eggs first which will mean there is a queen there somewhere.
And grass on the crown board to deter ants - priceless tips of wisdom. Thank you.
 

yesbut

Staff member
11,750
6,849
Nelson
Experience
Hobbyist
Thank you all for your replies, it is reassuring. There is a couple of days rain forecast so will inspect after this. Great tip on spotting for a queen Bron and yes agree it will be easyier to spot eggs first which will mean there is a queen there somewhere.
And grass on the crown board to deter ants - priceless tips of wisdom. Thank you.
Nobody said anything about priceless ......3 x 5 = $15 please :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 
3
4
Wellsford
Experience
Beginner
Will you look at that! Mother nature doing her thing. My original hive that swarmed has a new queen in residence. Spotted the larvae first then think I glimpsed the queen. Quite a dark body.
No ants on the top of the super this time round, as I just rubbed my glove over the eggs and ants so they're not back. At least I don't have to pay for the grass tip now! Phew.
Hive 2 - the nuc with original queen - has been rehomed in the hive of the swarm and is happily buzzing away. They are busy cleaning off the remaining old frames so alls well in the world of beekeeping for now.
 


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