Did our first full inspection of our new top bar hive, and almost all the bees are drones. We also only see scattered, capped, drone brood! The very first bar has comb that is in the shape of an upside down v. Then, the second comb has very large cells, and the third comb is also a V shape and has one queen cell. We have six bars total. What went wrong, and what should we do? I’m wondering if we had a queen that wasn’t fertilized from the beginning, or if she was killed and we’ve had an unfertilized worker laying eggs since then. The few girls left are working so hard! I feel terrible
To me it sounds like a laying worker, which generally happens if the queen for whatever reason is no longer around. This could be due to dying or possibly due to swarming and failing to requeen itself. Where did you get the bees? Was it a swarm you installed or a package? It could certainly be due to a queen failing to get mated correctly, but in such cases the queen usually has a decent laying pattern, but they are all drones! Laying workers just lay eggs all over the place with no rhyme or reason.
Do you have another hive or bees available from which you can get eggs?
We installed a package from Ruhl Bee Supply. It is our only hive. Would they accept a new queen? Money is tight, and I’m getting married in 10 days! Could we try and catch a swarm and introduce them to our hive?
A laying worker is a big problem. Depending on the bee population in that hive, I would probably find a swarm, catch it. Then shake all of the bees off of the combs of your current hive 20+ yards away. Then pour the swarm into your now bee-free hive. Some of the field force will return to the old hive and hopefully be assimilated into the new colony. And hopefully the laying worker will not make it back and all will be well. Buying a queen and introducing her can often lead to her demise, and unless the laying worker is gone you may still be stuck with the problem.
Same situation, but we did catch the swarm this morning. It was recommended that the Brood be frozen, and fed back to the hive… I look forward to your thoughts on this.
I’ve never tried freezing the brood. I lean toward Michael Bush’s advice here: http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslayingworkers.htm
If possible, I’d dump out the laying worker hive bees a good distance away, pour in your new swarm and see how it goes. This has worked successfully for me many times.