A few weeks ago, in the interest of eliminating weak colonies (beekeeper’s mantra–take your losses in the fall), I disbanded a colony whose queen had stopped laying eggs. There was no brood of any sort in the hive, despite the queen’s youth and prior good performance, and I assumed a poor mating. The hive was relatively small and, after the queen was removed, served to boost another more promising colony. Upon finding a much larger colony in a similar state, I drew up short. Sensibly, I did nothing, closed the hive up and went back home to research. So far, I have not found a great deal of information. I did find one really intriguing lead, however. The MAAREC (Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium) website’s page on Seasonal Cycles of Activities in Colonies states that “The egg laying of the queen bee tapers off and may stop completely during October or November, even if pollen is stored in the combs.” If a colony purposefully broke its brood cycle at this point in the year (assuming it had a relatively young worker population), could it also interrupt the varroa breeding cycle when mite numbers are not only potentially very high, but at their most threatening in terms of the colony’s winter survival? The Buckfast bee is reported to exhibit this behavior, but I have very little first-hand experience of such a pattern. The whole episode leaves me wondering…did I wisely eliminate a weak colony or destroy one with a potentially adaptive behavior?