Today started off good, then.....

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mzimm

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We were getting low on laundry soap, so I made a batch of 100% tallow. Always a pleasure, that. So easy, and making it reminds me of how it (tallow laundry soap) got me into soaping in the first place by needing to use up 50+ lbs of tallow rendered from a grass-fed beef we went in on.
Then I went to check on my "soap-on-a-ropes" I'd hung from my peach trees to ward off deer. You can smell the lavender and peppermint coming off them as soon as you approach our little orchard. But there was nary a peach still hanging on the trees! We had two hard freezes last week, and my son-in-law had helped me both times shroud the trees with tarps and plastic to protect the tiny peaches overnight, then drag them off the next morning. Apparently to no avail, because though I looked through every branch and twig, hoping to discover even a few peaches to fill a bowl this summer, there were none to be had.
Ah well, maybe next year.
Then, because the weather today is calm and a sunny 80 degrees, I decided to go into my beehives to see how things were going. The main nectar flow is in full swing here, and I was hoping my 3 hives would be big producers this year. But alas, two of the hives proved to be queenless. No eggs, not even any brood, so it appears I waited too long to check on them. Introducing new queens at this point would probably do no good. I have to do something to save the workers who are left, though, otherwise they'll die from queenlessness. I have a plan, but it's going to take some time and work in the next few days.
After the two fails, I went back inside and hugged my beautiful loaf of tallow soap, and felt better.
 

Navaria

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Oh no! I worry about the strawberries here. The late freezes had to have hurt them drastically. And I'm so sorry your hives are queenless. I hope you're able to save them. I know very, very little about beekeeping, but I do know from a friend that a queenless hive can spell disaster for the entire colony.
 

Arthur Dent

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If they can spare it, take a frame of brood from your other hive, one with fresh eggs, and put in the queenless hives. They should make a new queen.
If you don't want to do that, then I would try to merge the queenless bees with the other hive.
Or, if you want to be adventurous, merge the two queenless hives together, then give that resulting new hive a frame of brood, with fresh eggs, from the queen-right hive.
Lots of options.
Just my 2 cents.
 
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mzimm

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If they can spare it, take a frame of brood from your other hive, one with fresh eggs, and put in the queenless hives. They should make a new queen.
If you don't want to do that, then I would try to merge the queenless bees with the other hive.
Or, if you want to be adventurous, merge the two queenless hives together, then give that resulting new hive a frame of brood, with fresh eggs, from the queen-right hive.
Lots of options.
Just my 2 cents.
Thanks AD, I'm actually going to do a little bit of both your suggestions. I'm going to pick up a new queen from a local queen breeder tomorrow morning, and that girl is going into one of the queenless hives which will also be given a couple of brood frames from the queenright colony.
In exchange for their generosity, I'll give the queenright colony all the bees from the 2nd queenless colony, after proper introductions have been made, of course! :wink:
I actually think both of the queenless hives are hopelessly queenless, and would not make their own queen even if given brood to do so. They are both already filling their brood spaces with nectar; they're just a bunch of old field bees, not interested in nursing up a new queen. I'm hedging my bets, though, by buying a queen, just to see if her introduction, plus the brood frames, will turn that colony around.
 

mzimm

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Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.
Well I got the new queen, and "borrowed" three brood frames and their nurse bees from the good colony to beef up the one queenless hive. My one good colony was a swarm I'd caught in early March, and they are doing famously with a fine build-up powered by a very active queen. Unfortunately, she was not marked, and try as I might, I could not physically lay eyes on her. I went over those 3 brood frames 5 times to do my best not to steal her along with the brood and nurse bees, and could not find her, so I hope and pray I didn't just make a bad situation worse.
The bees were very interested in their new queen in her cage, but as far as I could tell, were not attacking (hind end down) but investigating & feeding (front end down).
Bees are fascinating.
Yes they are! I love beekeeping, but sometimes think they'd be ever so much better off if I simply stayed out of their way. You've got to help them when they're in trouble, which seems to be most of the time, as they have many enemies. But just as often as not, they know how to help themselves better than I do.
 

KristaY

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I know absolutely zero about beekeeping so this has been fascinating to me. The terminology is a mystery too so I'm picturing you in full white hazmat type bee gear, gently poking around, talking softly to them, moving slowly, peeking at the hive, encouraging your new queen and cheering on the rest of the hive.... I'm totally enthralled!
 

dixiedragon

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What an interesting thread! I'm always amazed at how involved bee keeping is. On the surface it seems like it would be very "plug and play" but it is very much not!

I've often wondered how it can possibly be cost effective for the giant farms to pay to have millions of bees delivered by 18 wheelers for pollination time. Wouldn't it be much simpler to have their own hives? Maybe not!
 

mzimm

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I know absolutely zero about beekeeping so this has been fascinating to me. The terminology is a mystery too so I'm picturing you in full white hazmat type bee gear, gently poking around, talking softly to them, moving slowly, peeking at the hive, encouraging your new queen and cheering on the rest of the hive.... I'm totally enthralled!
Haha KristaY, your visual is not far off the mark! For me, anyways. My beekeeping mentor is another story. He's a grizzled old f**t who never "suits up"---no veil, no gloves, no long sleeves--- and I've never seen him in anything but tennis shoes, a holey tee shirt, and raggedy old Osh Kosh B'Gosh bib overalls. He never gets stung. If an angry bee lands on his arm he just talks to her all "sweetie-pie, you got work to do, I may be ugly, but I'm not worth dying for, go on you!" He never gets stung. Me, I'm a sweet little old grandmotherly type, and I never get stung, either----cause I always suit up!

What an interesting thread! I'm always amazed at how involved bee keeping is. On the surface it seems like it would be very "plug and play" but it is very much not!

I've often wondered how it can possibly be cost effective for the giant farms to pay to have millions of bees delivered by 18 wheelers for pollination time. Wouldn't it be much simpler to have their own hives? Maybe not!
dixiedragon, those giant farms are usually growing a mega-crop of one thing---the California almond groves are one that come to mind. Nothing but almond blossoms for acres and acres and miles and miles around. If the bees were made to hang around those fields after the very short almond blossom season they'd die of starvation, because other food sources would be out of their foraging range of 3 to 5 miles. All the big beekeepers around here ship their hives out to California around February-March, then bring them back here in time to catch our early crops and spring blooms. Apparently it's a money-maker for them, but it seems so risky!
My son-in-law farms about 4000 acres of row crops and grazes cattle, and he'd never be able to fit in the time it takes to tend enough bees to work his fields. He's just glad there are beekeepers in the area. Backyard beekeepers are pretty proud of the service they provide surrounding farms, but of course, they also get to enjoy the bounty the bees bring back from them.
 

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