queens not laying

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karen
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queens not laying

Unread post by karen » August 20th, 2015, 11:59 am

I have had several calls this summer about queens walking around frames not laying and the bees are putting up with it. The bees are acting content. The queens are from several different places and are located throughout my state. So not a certain line of queens and in areas that vary with nectar flows. The calls started in July and I just got another today. I think I have spoken with at least 10 people who have had this happen this year. One of my own queens did this behavior recently and I asked they bring her back and I replaced her. She is in one of my breeding boxes now to see what she does.

There is plenty of honey and pollen in the hives and enough bees to handle raising brood. Some are experienced beekeepers and others are new. No reason that I can guess why this is happening. I guess I should dissect one and look at the spermatheca. If the queen I took back does nothing in the next week I will check it out. I usually am sure queens are laying before they leave my yard though but I have traveled a bit this summer and had my son helping with the queens.

Any thoughts/experience/guesses about this behavior?

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Allen Dick » August 20th, 2015, 12:13 pm

Are all these queens you after hearing about ones you produced? Or are queens from other suppliers doing the same thng?
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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » August 20th, 2015, 12:34 pm

I was asking people at first where they got the queens but it didn't seem to matter, it has been southern, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Ohio. So far 2 of mine, one of mine did lay for @ 5 weeks before she started this behavior. I also asked about equipment wondering if it was old wax or new wax, that didn't seem to matter either. I had people feed syrup and pollen patties it didn't help.

We have had a strange summer, cool at the start and very hot and humid lately. Screen bottom boards? I didn't ask. Mite burden? I am out of ideas of why it is happening. Banked to long? I banked some of my queens because I went away for a week and most likely some of the others were banked. I bank some queens every year though and never had problems, they are banked 10 or 14 days at the longest.

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by TWall » August 21st, 2015, 12:30 pm

Karen,

I had a similar situation happen with one hive/queen last year. This was an AI breeder queen I had gotten the year before. About this time of year I noticed there was no brood in the hive. I didn't look for her, I just figured I had accidentally killed her the last time I grafted. I put a frame of eggs in the hive so they could raise a queen. A month later I check and find brood. I happen to noticed the marked, and numbered, queen in the hive. This was an Italian queen.

Tom

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by beecavalier » August 22nd, 2015, 3:08 pm

Thanks Karen for posting this.

Comments so far sound broadly familiar. This has been my experience:

We removed two pulls before the canola bloomed as we wish to isolate our floral sources as much as possible. And the two pulls yielded very close to 200lbs per hive...so the hives were very healthy with large forager populations. The third (canola) pull was OK but I noticed that the forager population had dwindled somewhat and that many queens had disappeared with no sign of supercedure. As you know, when very populous hives loose the queen under these conditions, you should be able to notice the population increase in surrounding hives...not the case...they just dwindled away and quite quickly...no sign of that huge work force. Remaining bees just seem to backfill the brood nest with honey...and they don't appear to be queenless by the way they act...they appear content.

Another observation I have made is newly mated queens becoming drone layers at slightly higher rates...weather was great for mating. Coinciding with this observation is an experience I had removing a swarm from a chimney a week ago...this year's swarm and the queen had turned into a drone layer already. Yes I know it was likely on "old" queen but decades ago whenever I caught or removed a swarm, that was the last thing I would expect...I just never saw it. Perhaps some of the readers can inform me if this is common place...new swarms with drone layer queens.

The largest commercial beekeeper in the area has suffered some big hive losses in recent time...he's no fool as he's survived the last 20 years in the industry...he says it's neonics...that what he says. I have photos of my colony strength at the time of the 2nd pull and I've got samples of honey and pollen from after the 3rd pull...saved sample from the swarm also as it was surrounded by canola...am I going to pay $150 per sample to do honey chemical analysis (s) that the National Bee Diagnostics Lab performs or save the money for spring packages?...mmm.

I'm in northern Alberta and last fall the results from bee samples sent to NBDL showed negative for both varroa and nosema...wintered well...but I did see varroa in the drone brood this spring.

I, like Karen, would also like to know if others are observing similar occurrences.

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Spindriftdancer » July 18th, 2017, 7:20 pm

Was there any sort of resolution to this? I've got the same problem right now.

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » July 19th, 2017, 4:26 am

No resolution that I know of. I went back and read the whole of the 2015 thread and it was interesting that I noted the weather, "We have had a strange summer, cool at the start and very hot and humid lately." We are having the same this spring/summer I had one call last week about the queen just walking around not laying. It was one of mine she's been in the hive over two weeks. I took her back and gave them a queen out of a nuc that has a good brood pattern and has been laying a while instead of a queen just out of a mating box. Put the non laying queen in the nuc last TH to see what she does or what the bees do. I wish I had written the results of when I did the same thing in 2015. I will check that out today and let you know if there are any eggs.

Either the bees will accept her or make a new queen from the brood/eggs they have. Something that has been happening a lot this summer is when introducing a bred queen the bees never release her though they do take care of her. They eat some of the candy but never release her. They start queens cells from their own sisters, I have read they prefer eggs from their own super sisters but have never seen it happen as often as this season. This has been happening all summer with queens many from different breeders. People end up releasing the queen 8 or 10 days later and of course she is gone on next inspection. The bees don't give her a chance to kill the queen cells.

Sorry I can't be more help.

Karen

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Biermann » July 19th, 2017, 10:18 am

One question:

Did the queens not lay at all even later? Or did they just have a 'slow' time?

Could this be do to A) not enough feed around, b) not enough space in the hive/brood box if queen excluders are used or C) sufficient population in the hive not to need excess brood?

I mean, queens not just lay without need, or do they?

Cheers, Joerg

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Allen Dick » July 19th, 2017, 10:44 am

Contrary to what many people believe, queens often take a break from laying, even in the peak season. There can be many reasons and some strains are more inclined to do so than others.
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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » July 20th, 2017, 6:00 am

Yes I agree, queens stop or slow down for many reasons. Some seasons it happens more often than others. A friend sent me this http://beehealingguild.org/waggle-dancing-blog/ I guess I could always blame glyphosate.

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Allen Dick » July 20th, 2017, 8:42 am

I saw that long before Roundup became a common application around here, but it was not as obvious back when Italian strains were the main commercial strain.

I first noticed it when we got the first Konas, back when Konas still had some of the native Hawaiian dark bee stock in them. Some would stop laying during a rainy spell.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. What matters is the average over time.

Often we try to make bees meet our expectations without understanding them. Bees have their ways and we succeed best when we accept them and work with them.

Too many beekeepers try to boss their bees around. In my experience, that does not work too well.
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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Biermann » July 20th, 2017, 10:43 am

I will restate my question that may have been unclear: Do the queens stop laying all together or will they lay again after the break?

Cheers, Joerg

Ps.: nice to see some activity again, must be beekeepers time.

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » July 20th, 2017, 11:00 am

I find they will but also I have had some never start again, mostly because I get fed up with them and replace them. If she goes longer than 2 weeks not laying and the bees are letting her hang around doing nothing she is a goner.

I will be checking the non laying returned queen this afternoon after it cools down. I will let you know what is going on with her. I put her in the 3 frame breeding box I pulled her replacement out of a week ago.

Karen

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » July 20th, 2017, 11:02 am

"Too many beekeepers try to boss their bees around. In my experience, that does not work too well."

No it doesn't, all it does is get you stung. :D

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Allen Dick » July 20th, 2017, 11:15 am

...And you do a lot of work that the bees have to spend time and effort undoing.

Everything goes much better if the beekeeper and the bees are all pulling in the same direction.

If we help the bees raise queens and split when they want to divide naturally and we give them extra room when they want make honey, and reduce the space when they need a smaller cavity and shelter them from pests and weather, everyone is happy.
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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Allen Dick » July 20th, 2017, 11:18 am

Queens do things the books don't mention, largely because some of those things are so far off the normal nobody can believe it -- or make it happen again.

I have mentioned in the diary an experience when a breeder queen went missing from her nuc for a week or more and then was back there laying like nothing happened.
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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Biermann » July 20th, 2017, 11:28 am

Thanks Karen,

Awaiting your update.
I have mentioned in the diary an experience when a breeder queen went missing from her nuc for a week or more and then was back there laying like nothing happened.
Hey, everyone needs a vacation, queens too :)

Cheers, Joerg

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » July 20th, 2017, 3:13 pm

The queen hasn't laid any eggs yet. The bees released her and one was feeding her while I was holding the frame. I will let them keep her and see what happens.

She is a mutt, no specific race. Probably more Carni than anything. A little on the small side but she is not using her ovaries so I expect that.

Karen

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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by Allen Dick » July 20th, 2017, 3:20 pm

In my experience, banking queens can reduce their usefulness. No necessarily, but sometimes and maybe due to factors we do not detect.

Producers bank queens and so do commercial beekeepers and usually the results are good, especially if the holding is short duration, but I think everyone agrees that the best queens are queens that at least hatch and are mated from the hive where they spent their working life. Some suspect and I am one of them that sharing the genetics of the home hive helps, too.
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Re: queens not laying

Unread post by karen » July 20th, 2017, 3:48 pm

Many times when I have introduced an unrelated bred queen the bees will start queen cells. I pull the queen and add the new one immediately. If I go back to check and she is still in the cage I look through and always find queen cells. This year that is happening a lot. When I sell a queen I tell people if she is not out in 5 days, go through the hive and look for queen cells. Do not release her. I am not seeing or hearing about this with just the queens I raise it is happening no matter the line of queens.

I don't bank for more than 4 or 5 days. I have enough room in my breeding boxes that they can stay for a while. I switched to 3 frame deep boxes a while ago. I like them much better than the mini boxes. I can leave them until I need to catch them to sell or use.

I have started forcing supersedes with my production hives. I cut off one middle or front leg of the queen if she is worthy of having a daughter from. She keeps laying, the missing leg doesn't slow her down much. The bees start queen cells because the missing leg affects her foot print or trail pheromone. I only need to remove the lower part of the leg, it affects the tarsal gland. The new queen emerges and the mother daughter work together for a while. I have been experimenting with this for a while. The foot forces the supersedure faster than an antenna. They usually make 5 to 6 cells. I some times take a frame with extra cells and make a nuc with it or put it in one of my 3 frames breeder boxes. It is a really easy way to requeen a hive. Keep the old one laying while they raise a new one.

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