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Offline BlueBee

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My queen croaked
« on: April 30, 2011, 05:48:46 PM »
Sadly, one of my queen bumble bees croaked today.  Anybody have advice for the rest of my queens?

From what I’ve read, I believe I have 3 Bombus Impatiens and 1 Bombus Vagans queen.  I caught them about a week ago on some willow blooms.  The queen that croaked was a B Impatiens.  I’ve read that getting BBs started in captivity can be difficult.  I’ve been feeding them 1:1 sugar water once or twice a day and feeding them bee pollen.  They’ve been consuming the food, however so far they have not started any brood.  I’ve even thrown some honey bee wax comb in to give them cells and/or wax to start their nest.  So far, no dice. 

So far I’ve kept them in a hive with the entrance closed at about 74F.  I figured if the entrance was opened too soon, they would immediately exit the hive and be gone.  However now after a week I’m contemplating opening the entrances and letting them decide rather to stay or go. 

Here’s some photos. 





From what I’ve read, some BBs are much harder to raise in captivity than others.  However I believe Bombus Impatiens is the breed being used commercially so I think I have the right bees, but just not enough knowledge.

Offline AliciaH

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2011, 01:10:01 AM »
So, have you caught bumble bee queens and raised them successfully before? 

I don't know much about bumble bees other than the queen winters over with a honey pot that she consumes.  When she starts up again in the spring, she makes a few cells, raises a few workers who then take over more of the domestic chores so the queen can concentrate on laying eggs.

Aren't you worried that by capturing the queen that you have removed her from her chosen environment?

Offline bee-nuts

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2011, 02:49:19 AM »
Do bummble bee queens sting?  I thought about trying some bumble bees myself this spring but I already have enought to do, LOL.  Good luck, wish I could give you some advice but im a dummy when it comes to bbs.
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Offline BlueBee

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2011, 01:34:29 PM »
Alicia, no I have not raised BBs successfully before, hence my call for help, help, help  :)
Bee-nuts, thanks for the well wishes.

I have read The Humble Bee by Sladen and I have read a number of web articles but I’m getting worried I’m missing some critical point.  Once you get the BBs laying eggs, it looks like they’re pretty simple to raise.  It’s getting them started that seems to be difficult.

Sladen and others reared BBs in a laboratory (or shed) so I’m trying to follow their approach.  I would like to observe and learn from my BBs and hence the desire to hive them in an un-natural hive (with a plexi-glass cover).

Offline AliciaH

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2011, 02:14:50 PM »
Blue:  I hope you are successful!  It would help on a lot of fronts if we could raise bumbles!

I just wonder if from having found them in my yard and once in the insulation of our pump house, if the queen needs a more protected, solitary environment to start?  Maybe the box has too much open space?  I don't know, I'm just brainstorming here, but what about lowering the light level and adding a pile of grass or something she could use to make a hole in?

What did the folks in the laboratory use?

Offline BlueBee

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2011, 04:06:36 PM »
I moved my Bumble Bee Queens and their hives outside and opened their entrances yesterday.  I put cat hair in with the queens to give them some insulation material and set the thermometer to 85F.  The hives are also completely dark inside.  Since the queens were not making any progress being held captive for 1 week I figured I would experiment with giving them the option to exit my hive and ideally return.

That wasn’t much of a success either.  My Bombus Vagans queen quickly flew off to parts unknown and didn’t come back.  That leaves me with 2 Bombus Impatiens queens.  They haven’t flown away yet, but that might just be due to our crappy weather (cloudy, cold, sprinkles, low 40s)

A nice cozy insulated hive with food, fur, and 85F seems more appealing to me that living in a cold wet mouse hole, but I’m not a bee. 


Offline BlueBee

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2011, 08:43:19 PM »
I turned my bumble bee hive thermostat down to 75F today.  I’m not sure the bumble bees like it as warm as the honey bees.  I noticed my honey pots were starting to crust over at 85F, so that was yet another problem.



Offline BjornBee

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2011, 09:35:16 PM »
Do bummble bee queens sting?  

Yes......and if you think getting stung by a honeybee hurts, this is about 10 times worse.

I got stung on the tip of my nose a couple years back. It actually dripped blood, and shot pain throughout my face. Much worse than anything I experienced with honeybees.
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Offline hardwood

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2011, 09:37:52 PM »
Blue, I think this is totally cool! Keep us informed as you learn how it's done...I'd love to try.

Scott
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Offline ziffabeek

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2011, 10:19:20 AM »
I second hardwood. How cool!  Good luck with your experiments and please keep us updated.  I might like to try this as well!

love,
ziffa

Offline VolunteerK9

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Re: My queen croaked
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2011, 10:27:47 AM »
Do bummble bee queens sting?  

Yes......and if you think getting stung by a honeybee hurts, this is about 10 times worse.

I got stung on the tip of my nose a couple years back. It actually dripped blood, and shot pain throughout my face. Much worse than anything I experienced with honeybees.

I ran over a nest of them bush hogging last year. I was ready to whip my kids cuz I could of sworn that I had just got shot in the back of the head by a bb gun. No thanks, Ill just keep working at honeybee farming.

 

anything