When beekeepers have a weak hive that they think will not make it through the winter they have to decide whether they want to combine them with a strong hive or let them survive on their own with a high chance of death.
One of Bethany’s hives, Lakti, was weak. They made a queen sometime in the fall that we saw. A few weeks later the hive did not have a queen. We let the bees try to make an emergency queen and a few weeks later, we saw eggs but no brood comb only drone comb. We were not sure if this hive had a drone laying queen, a laying worker, or a viable queen that was just taking her time.
The drone eggs showed up in mid to late September. There are not a lot of drones out for mating in the fall which does not allow for queens to be mated well. If we added a frame of eggs to Lakti the bees maybe would make a queen, but she would not start laying eggs until late October. In September, we could hope that if she was a drone laying queen she would become queen right (begin to lay worker eggs) and build up the hive in time for winter. Another option was to combine Lakti with its split to make one big, strong hive.
In the end, we decided to leave the hive alone because combining a weak hive with a strong hive makes the strong hive into an okay hive. Also we would still lose a hive. Stay tuned for an update on Lakti.