Thank you to Ron, a D&B customer, for asking a great question about his queen bee and the answer by bee expert, Melinda Jean Stafford.
I am new to beekeeping. I purchased a nuc through D&B this spring. The nuc only survived two months. This may have been due to my inexperience. However, I know that there were problems getting the nucs this year and I am just wondering if others struggled keeping theirs going. I put the bees in a hive that had never had bees in it. I did fill the feeder that came with the bees and put it in the hive with them. When the nuc arrived the feeder was empty, which may be normal. There were also about a cup full of dead bees in the bottom of the nuc box and the bottom of the feeder. I do not know if this is an excessive amount or not for a nuc. I checked the hive about once a week and could find the queen until the end of June when I could not find her. We went on vacation for about 10 days and when we came back on the 4th of July I still could not find the queen and the bees kept getting fewer and fewer until they are all gone now. I did not ever get the feeling that the hive was growing, as far as an increase in the number of bees. When I looked for eggs and larvae each week when I checked the hive, I would find some, until the end of June. However, there never were very many. I would say that at the most there would be enough capped cells and open cells with larvae that would cover maybe half of one side of a frame.
I am just wondering if because of the problem that they had with the queens, if these queens may have had a weaker start, or if it may just be a beginners learning curve.
I assume that it is to late to get more bees this year and I will need to wait and try again next year.
It sounds like you did many things right! You filled the feeder frame to give your bees a good head start. You check on the hive periodically to see how they were doing. You were able to identify eggs and noticed a point in time where the eggs were no longer being laid. It sounds like you were unable to find the queen right about the same time that you no longer saw eggs. Additionally, you noticed that there never were many eggs to begin with. This tells me that the queen failed and likely died, and the worker bees were unable make a new queen. The best thing to do next time this happens (because it happens to all of us at some point!) is to requeen your hive as soon as you recognize that the hive is queenless and do not see any queen cells present to replace her. You can purchase queens locally through many commercial beekeepers. Many local hobbiests sell them as well. You can get connected with them through the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club at idabees.org. Unfortunately, it is pretty late in the season to start a new hive. I would suggest waiting until next year to get another nuc. The good news is you know more now than you did before! And, you will be able to manage issues like this in the future.
Melinda Jean Stafford