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Author Topic: Can't find queen...  (Read 1277 times)
wxton
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« on: April 16, 2009, 10:49:08 PM »

I am pretty new to beekeeping and have 2 hives.  I ordered 2 queens in order to re-queen my hives this year.  Both of my original queens died (I assume they died because they were marked and I could find them and then over the course of a month or so I couldn't find them but I still had eggs...so I didn't worry) and were superceded but the hives stayed pretty strong so I didn't seem to worry.  I could tell they had a little more aggression than my original queens but they made a bunch of honey so the pros seemed to outway the cons.  OK back to my re-queening.  This is the first time that I had really tried to find the queens since I could always see eggs.  As of yesterday afternoon and this afternoon (about 8 hours worth of looking) I came to the conclusion that both hives were queenless.  I will give the best description of each hive and if anyone can give me some advice I would greatly appreciated it. 

Hive#1:  I could not visually identify a queen.  There was a lot of drones as compared to Hive#2.  Hive#1 has always been stronger than Hive#2 until here recently although there is still a large number of bees in this hive.  There was a lot of 7-8 day larva that was not capped yet and quite a bit of capped worker brood...but not a lot of drone cells.  ( I don't understand this with the high number of drones in this hive.  Although I cold find a lot of brood 5-8 days and older...I could not find one egg.  Does this sound like this queen has just died?

Hive#2:  This one is the real question for me.  I searched and searched and searched for a queen in this hive.  This hive has thousands of worker bees in it and not an uncommon number of drones.  The odd thing about this hive is that there is no sign of reproduction.  No eggs, no larva, no capped brood, no drone cells, nothing.  Well not nothing I did find the starting of some queen cells and one that was almost drawn completely out (I removed all of these).  There is a quite a bit of honey and pollen but nothing else?  Is this a queenless hive as well?

Being a novice and not the most experienced beekeeper I listened to my gut and introduced the new queens.  Maybe I did the right thing.

Any comments or critiques will be most welcome.

Britt
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doak
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2009, 11:27:50 PM »

First of all.
You need to become, hopefully un lost.
There is a lot of things the people on this forum can help with better if you are not lost.
Location, location, location.
I am here in central Ga.
You may be way up north some where. So the bees cycle will vary according to our location, (if) that is the case.

You may and may not be queen less in either case.
A new queen could be there and not laying yet.

Take an extra box with no frames, put it on a bottom board next to the  hive in question. Have another top or some thing to cover the other box.

Make sure and notice where the frames go so to put them back in the order they came out.
Now take two frames from the colony and put them in the empty box next to one side.
skip the next two frames and get the next two and put them in the new box, skipping a couple spaces. Do this till you have about half in one box and half in the other.
Let them settled down for a few minutes before starting your search.
The Queen tends to run from frame to frame.

Cover the new box while you check the frames in the mother hive.
Five minutes later.
Now start with the mother colony and inspect each frame, one side, then the other, then the first side again. Make sure to put the inspected frame back in place by it's self. "Always" put an inspected frame in, not next to one that has not been inspected.
Inspect all the frames in the mother hive first, then the ones in the spare.

You will also come to learn the different sounds between queen less and a queen right colony.

Re guard less of whether you find the queen or not, you should never keep a colony open for inspecting more than 10 to 15 minutes. Close it up and come back tomorrow.
Hope this helps.

PS if for some private reason you cannot be found.
I will accept you as hopelessly lost. :)doak
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wxton
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2009, 12:03:16 AM »

Ok hopefully I have gotten found...

Any reason why Hive #2 has so many bees in it but no signs of reproduction?
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wxton
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2009, 12:05:19 AM »

OH...forgot to say thanks for the info Doak.
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doak
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2009, 12:27:23 AM »

That is why it is a good idea to start with more than one colony.
You have some comparison.
Some queens just out do others for different reasons.
You must of had a good one there.
Glad to see you were found. rolleyes :)doak
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2009, 12:54:14 AM »

I am pretty new to beekeeping and have 2 hives.  I ordered 2 queens in order to re-queen my hives this year.  Both of my original queens died (I assume they died because they were marked and I could find them and then over the course of a month or so I couldn't find them but I still had eggs...so I didn't worry) and were superceded but the hives stayed pretty strong so I didn't seem to worry.  I could tell they had a little more aggression than my original queens but they made a bunch of honey so the pros seemed to outway the cons.  OK back to my re-queening.  This is the first time that I had really tried to find the queens since I could always see eggs.  As of yesterday afternoon and this afternoon (about 8 hours worth of looking) I came to the conclusion that both hives were queenless.  I will give the best description of each hive and if anyone can give me some advice I would greatly appreciated it. 

If you have all capped cells indicate drone eggs and open cells show multiple eggs then you would have laying workers.  A lack of brood can be from several reasons, young queen that hasn't started laying yet, an old failing queen, the queen's taking a break (no, I'm not kidding), unhatched queen where the swarm has already left the hive, or recent loss of queen.  I've known of people who searched their hive for 2 days and still couldn't find the queen but suddenly the queen started laying days after this tireless frantic search.  Searching 2 hives for 8 hours and not finding the queen doesn't surprise me, it happens to many beginners.

Quote
Hive#1:  I could not visually identify a queen.  There was a lot of drones as compared to Hive#2.  Hive#1 has always been stronger than Hive#2 until here recently although there is still a large number of bees in this hive.  There was a lot of 7-8 day larva that was not capped yet and quite a bit of capped worker brood...but not a lot of drone cells.  ( I don't understand this with the high number of drones in this hive.  Although I cold find a lot of brood 5-8 days and older...I could not find one egg.  Does this sound like this queen has just died?

Why is visual identification of the queen necessary?  Personal achievement?  If the hive displays the signs of a queen accept that and move on.  A frantic search to visually verify a queen can often result in the loss of said queen as a result of the search.  This hive sounds like it is post swarm.  I cite the age of the larvae, lack of eggs, and presence of drones.  If the queen in this hive has died it is because she was lost during a mating flight or an inspection.  Virgin or Young mated queens that haven't started laying yet can be almost futile to find in a hive.  Normally I would suggest barrowing a frame of brood from another hive to access the queen status, installing a frame of mixed eggs and larvae will often cause a dorment queen to begin laying again or the workers to draw queen cells.  

Quote
Hive#2:  This one is the real question for me.  I searched and searched and searched for a queen in this hive.  This hive has thousands of worker bees in it and not an uncommon number of drones.  The odd thing about this hive is that there is no sign of reproduction.  No eggs, no larva, no capped brood, no drone cells, nothing.  Well not nothing I did find the starting of some queen cells and one that was almost drawn completely out (I removed all of these).  There is a quite a bit of honey and pollen but nothing else?  Is this a queenless hive as well?

The best way I have found in 50 years of beekeeping to insure that a hive becomes queenless is to remove queen cells or cups.  Again this hive sounds post swarm but a little longer.  This hive may indeed be queenless.  If so the loss was recent and most likely from loss during a mating flight or inspection.  This one I would definitely requeen if there are no other hives available from which to barrow a frame or 2 of brood.  Since You only have 2 hives and they are both in trouble that course of a action is out of the question.

Quote
Being a novice and not the most experienced beekeeper I listened to my gut and introduced the new queens.  Maybe I did the right thing.

Time will tell.  I hope you do not mistake my reference to loss of queen during inspection as degrogatory, I still have it happen to me now and then and I've been doing this since I was 10 years old (50 yrs).  The important thing is to not panic and jump to faulty conclusions.  When an inspection becomes frantic in searching for a single bee there is much more of a tendency for haste in movement and thought, which induces clumsiness, and brings about more squished bees from the frames being pushed back and forth, in and out of the hive, and waved in the air, as well as a loss of recall on what one has recently been taught, read, or told/  It happens to all of us at some point.  Call it Buck fever.

Quote
Any comments or critiques will be most welcome.

Britt

You need to develop the mental viewpoint of learning yoga when inspecting bees.  Exploring a beehive needs to become your Zen.  Slow careful movements and if you find yourself speeding up or becoming frantic, step back and take a deep breath before preceeding or stop for the day.  
Learn to interept the signs you see but might not now understand.  The status of the brood chamber is one such item, queen cells or lack there of is another, and the present of an abundance of drones is another.  All of those can mean the presence or lack of a queen, but it also tells where within the possiblities it is.  

Good luck!
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wxton
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2009, 07:52:34 AM »

Thanks all for your comments and help.

Mr. Bray you asked why I needed to find the queen.  I was looking for them because i was going to re-queen those hives and needed to make sure the existing queens were removed.  when I first got my hives I was guilty of wanting to find the queen all the time, then I realized I was causing the bees unnessecary stress so I quit looking so much for the queens but started just checking periodically for signs of reproduction as I still do now.  And no I do not take your statement about the queen being killed in inspection as deragatory.  I am just thankful for you guys willingness to help.  Anyone else be free to share your 2 cents.  I am all ears.

I will update on the status of my new queens in about a week.

Thanks,
Britt
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Bee-Bop
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2009, 08:54:42 AM »

I have read in several books that it actually takes practice to locate the Queen,
very few beginners could find them.

OF Course this never ever happened to Me !    rolleyes   rolleyes

There really are several " tricks " to help see her, I find if I scan from side to side rather than stare at the frame it helps.

Good Luck

Bee-Bop
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doak
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2009, 07:39:16 PM »

I have spotted more queens by accident, when in for other reasons than when looking for her. shocked rolleyes :)doak
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2009, 12:42:25 PM »

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenspotting.htm

Also if you have some excluders around you can put one between each box for four days to a week and then she will be in the box that has eggs.
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wxton
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« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2009, 03:43:23 PM »

Both of my hives are queenright...Yahoooo!  One hive accepted the queen I put in and the other hive did not, but I saw a new queen in that box yesterday...so we are good to go!  Guess patience is a virtue.  Thanks to everyone who posted on here, gave me a lot of insight.
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sarafina
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2009, 05:34:00 PM »

Good deal!

I just went through the wait and see period where my hive did not have any open or capped larvae and I had found queen cups.  The advice I got here was wait to see if my new queen would start laying, so I waited about 10 days before going in (weather was a factor, too) and voila - larvae!  I was so happy  grin

This is just my second year, so there is SOOOO much to learn.

Sarah
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wxton
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« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2009, 09:08:50 AM »

yes there is so much to learn...I am actually taking a class from the Georgia Beekeeping Institute put on by the University of Georgia next weekend.  I am so, so excited about going.

Now that my hives are queenright, now my problem is I am wondering if my frames are honeybound.  I have been recalling what those frames looked like in my head and trying to remember if cells were open or full of honey???  I got my first two hives two years ago too (April 2007) and since then I find myself thinking/worrying about my bees more and more often.  I will pose another question here...if a hive is honeybound, will the workers start cleaning out cells for reproduction or will they be more apt to swarm?  The hive (I don't think) can swarm because the queen is clipped.  I guess if they seem to be honeybound the appropriate thing to do would be to give them some new foundation?  Another question how often do you folks change out your brood frames?  I have read somewhere that toxins build up in the wax and should be left in a hive no longer than 10 years?  I am thinking about starting to rotate in new foundation next year.  Sound reasonable.

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kathyp
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« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2009, 10:02:21 AM »

one of the best pieces of advice i got when i started, was to take a camera out to the hives.  shoot pictures of the frames as you go.  look at them later and you will be amazed at how much did not register while you were checking.  smiley  they don't have to be really nice pics and you don't have to take a lot of time at it.

it's also an easy way to keep a record of what your hives are doing.
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