Albuquerque Beekeepers

Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.

Hey everyone, 

This is my first year beekeeping and I have 1 top bar hive. Things have been good all year. The queen has had a spotty brood pattern but they were producing so well, to 16 bars in no time that I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Now, for the past 4 hive checks they haven't made anymore comb (I haven't harvested the honey yet) and I have noticed that not only is she still spotty but it seems like there are less bees and visually less brood. There is a lot of honey in the hive but few new babies. I didn't see the queen this last check but I know she's in there cause I saw her the two before. I am starting to think that a new queen is now the way to go… I don't think I'm too late because there are still a lot of bees in there but I am starting to worry. Should I re-queen now before it starts getting cold? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Kate

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I think you need to confirm that you have a queen, to start with.  Just because there are lots of bees doesn't mean much at this point.  Do you see eggs when you inspect?  Do you see queen cells?  These are clues that can tell you if you have lost your queen. 

If you don't see any eggs in the hive, the hive is probably queenless.  If there are queen cells, you could let them raise a new queen themselves.  If there are no eggs and the larvae are all old or capped, and there are no queen cells, your only option is a new queen or borrow some brood from someone, but you need to do that right away.  A new queen would be the fastest way to get the colony queen right.  This is my first year too, so I don't have any experience with the rest of the year.  Since the hive is well established, you could probably let them make their own queen.  TJ Carr doesn't recommend that, although I successfully did a walkaway split this year.  It might be a little late to have them make their own queen.  It takes about 6 weeks if you put in some comb with eggs.  That wouldn't give them much time to build up for winter, and if the queens got lost or killed before mating you would be pretty much out of luck.  I think in your position I would opt for a new queen if the hive is not queen right.

Regarding building comb, I think we have been in a bit of a dearth for the last few weeks.  Last week my bees were starting to build comb again and bring in more honey, so I am hoping the monsoons are starting to show up in nectar and new comb.  Perhaps we are heading into a late summer/fall honey flow.

Ted

Thanks so much for your reply. I do believe the queen is still there because I saw her the last time I was in there and the hive was already dipping in population. I didn't spot any eggs but there was larva and capped brood… just not a lot, no queen cells either. I think it may just be best to re-queen. Who can I contact locally that may have queens?

Try Zia Queen Bees

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