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Author Topic: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing  (Read 2293 times)

Offline Jim Stovall

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The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« on: September 06, 2008, 08:32:53 PM »
    • Re-queening a beehive is the hardest, most tedious task in beekeeping.

"It's the hardest, most aggrevatin'-ist thing you can do when you keep bees."

My anonymous friend was talking about re-queening a hive.

I second that emotion.<img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/jgstovall/RlsFbRmDK9I/AAAAAAAAAsg/vfldXYHSyfU/s288/DSCN0089.jpg" align="right" hspace="5" />

I ordered new queens for all five hives this year, being told that good bee management says you should re-queen your hives at least once every two years. Some people re-queen every year, which is even better bee management. A hive with a young queen will produce more bees and is likely to stay healthier and ultimately produce more honey.

The problem is getting the queen into the hive. Actually, the real problem is finding the old queen and killing her so the new queen will be accepted. A queen is somewhat longer than worker bees and thinner than a drone. She has pretty much the same markings as the worker bees, although her wing shape is a little different.

Since there is only one queen per hive, you have to find this one slightly different critter among as many as 30,000 or 40,000 other critters. It's a real life needle-in-a-haystack problem.

So, here's the score. My friend Jim Brown has been helping me, mainly because I'm not experienced enough to recognize a queen by my self. On our first go at it, we determined that two of the hives (Hives 4 and 5) had lost their queens -- which made it pretty easy to get the new queens in. Jim found the queen in a third hive (Hive 2). We could not find the queen in Hives 1 and 3. Jim has been back once to look, and I have been in the hives three times for a total of around five hours looking for the queens.

No luck.

So far, new queens 3 - old queens 2.

I saw Coley O'Dell at the farmer's market this morning, and as usual, Coley had good advice. He described the method that he uses to find a queen that otherwise won't be found. I am going to give it a try this evening or something tomorrow. Stay tuned. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2008, 10:28:57 PM »
>I ordered new queens for all five hives this year, being told that good bee management says you should re-queen your hives at least once every two years. Some people re-queen every year, which is even better bee management.

And some of us let the bees sort it out unless they appear to be failing at it.

As to finding queens:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenspotting.htm

If you're really desperate try an excluder between each box for four days and then look for eggs.  The box with the eggs in it has the queen.

Or shake them all through an excluder.

Michael Bush
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Offline Brian D. Bray

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Re: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2008, 12:02:38 AM »
Maybe it's just me, but I don't find requeening that difficult.  Natural replacement is the preferred method, but installing a new queen isn't that hard if you've taken the time to determine the hive is indeed queenless.  Most requeening sagas/failures are due to not making that determination and finding the queen was only idle, not absent, so much too do was made and money lost on buying a queen when it wasn't necessary.  Or they keep cutting out the queen cells and then wonder why the hive is now queenless....they made it that way.
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Offline JP

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Re: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2008, 12:37:43 AM »
I don't re-queen unless I see a problem, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Finding queens takes some perseverance, but I don't find it that difficult a task, it takes a little practice and a good eye but it ain't no big thang, once you get the hang of it.

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Offline Melilem

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Re: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2008, 03:41:15 PM »
Well I am a newbee... but I have to question authority. Cant help it, it's my nature :) I got the impression from the answers that requeening every year/other year isn't critical?

Offline Frantz

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Re: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2008, 05:30:01 PM »
Best thing to do IMO is get an OB hive. I have learned so much this summer by having the OB hive. I was even checking a hive with a new bee friend of mine the other day and I heard a sound that I thought was the new queens piping sound. I made a comment, we started inspecting and sure enough the 4th frame we pulled there was the old queen and the new queen ready for round #1. The new queen was the one piping. You could hear her loud and clear once the frame was up. Spotting queens, learning what to watch for, what a healthy hive looks like etc. It has been a great experience.
Get an OB hive.....
F
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: The most aggrevatin'-ist thing
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2008, 09:57:04 PM »
Assuming no chemicals and good breeding (both of which are in short supply these days), usually a queen will fail in her third year. Sometimes sooner.  Sometimes later.  Usually the bees sense this and replace her before you even notice.  Sometimes not.

But let's keep in mind too, that just because a queen is young does not mean she's good.  She might be poorly mated, she might be compromised by the chemicals in the hive where she was bred.  I prefer to trust the bees until I see evidence of a problem and then step in.
Michael Bush
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My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen