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Author Topic: If a hive has a virgin queen, will they build q-cells on a test frame of eggs?  (Read 1067 times)

Offline windfall

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I am familiar with using a frame with eggs to test a hive for the presence of a queen. But I cannot remember what I have read regarding it's usefulness in testing for a virgin. Are her pheromones adequate to keep them from starting Q-cells or is that only true of a mated queen.

A few days ago I swapped the location of a small hive with 2 failing nucs....it worked great for the nucs, but today when I went through the small hive I moved to check for stores (now that their foragers are gone to the nucs) I found they had recently superceded the old queen. 8-9 Q-cells torn open and 1 showing emerged. I did not see the new queen, there are no eggs, but some pretty small larva, the open q-cells are all looking pretty fresh, and 2.5 weeks ago I saw nothing of note in this hive....so I think this all happened pretty recently

It's quite possible I doomed the new girl when I switched hives, I assume if she was out or had already oriented to that location she would get balled upon returning to the nucs (they had their new queens today). I was short on time when I made the switch but lesson learned: Don't move without looking inside first!

Or she could well be in the hive still getting strong and will mate in the next few days....if I am lucky.

or she could be mated and in the hive getting ready to lay.....again if I am lucky

The hive had virtually no pollen, but with so little open brood I am not too worried about that. Nonetheless I was thinking of giving them a frame of pollen with some eggs if I can find it as an insurance policy.

Offline windfall

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The gist of my question is can I go ahead and do that (add the pollen/ test eggs) today or tomorrow, or should I wait a while to allow a potential virgin to mate before "testing" the hive with the eggs?

Offline Finski

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After emerging it takes normally 10 days when the queen starst to lay. Keep your heads cool.
Think something else.
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Offline FRAMEshift

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I agree with Finski.  Give her two more weeks to start laying before you worry about this hive.
"You never can tell with bees."  --  Winnie-the-Pooh

Offline windfall

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Thanks guys,

I am not worried, plenty of time and resources to deal if a problem does exist.

The timing is just so close that it got me thinking. I think most likely the queen is in there and has not (or is presently) taking her mating flights.  If they started the cells sometime after my last inspection 17-18 days ago she likely emerged right around the time I moved the hive.....even as I write this I am remembering hearing a sound a lot like piping the day I swapped them...

but for general reference: Is the presence of a virgin enough to suppress q-cell building with the "frame of eggs test"?

Offline asprince

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Would not the presence of small larvae indicate a  laying queen three days ago?


Steve
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Offline windfall

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I am still getting a feel for larva size, but I would have guessed more like 5-6 days...day 1 and 2 are really tiny. These were visible without much effort, but there could certainly have been some younger than that as well. But I am pretty confident their were no eggs. I checked the frame I found those young larva on very carefully with good sunlight.

My understanding is with superceder the virgin may kill the old queen or co-exist for a period. It was clear that a new queen emerged and took out the other cells, not finding any eggs makes me think she took the old queen as well.

Offline Grandpa Jim

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Your question was..will they start queen cells on a test frame if there is a virgin queen present? 

You obviously have some concern about this hive because of the changes you made in your yard. If there were no concerns, yes give her 2 weeks, but you have a concern that they may not even have a virgin or resources to start another.

I had an experience with this in the last month.  I caught a small swarm with a virgin queen.  I gave her 2 weeks and no eggs.  It was only 3 medium frames, but when I checked for eggs they just boiled out of the hive and hung on the outside of the hive...not stinging just wild!  So I gave them a frame of eggs.  In 2 days they had queen cells started. 1 week later there were eggs, larvae and a nice fat mated queen.  All of those started cells were torn down just before they were capped. 

So from my resent experience, I would say the answer to your question is ...Yes, they may start queen cells with a virgin present.   

I don't see any harm in putting a frame in now...why wait 2 weeks?  If they are queenless you are ahead by 2 weeks.  If they have a queen they get some extra brood.  Win /Win situation.
Jim

Offline FRAMEshift

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If they are queenless you are ahead by 2 weeks.  If they have a queen they get some extra brood.  Win /Win situation.
Jim

Sure, if you have a frame of eggs to spare, it never hurts to add them.  But I would not conclude that a virgin is absent until another two weeks has passed.   Your experience with queen cells being made in a virgin queen hive is good to know.
"You never can tell with bees."  --  Winnie-the-Pooh

Offline windfall

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Grandpa Jim,
Thanks for sharing your experience. It's helpful to know how definitive a test the eggs are, useful information for me now as well as a a good general piece of knowledge.

I keep trying to remember when/if I heard that piping. The more I consider it, the more I think it was 3 days earlier when I placed the queens into the nucs (the hive was just a few feet away) and thought to "take a peak later". Even rushed as I was when swapping the hives, I am pretty sure it would have set off bells and whistles if it had been then.

That timeline would be less encouraging, with it a bit more likely I lost the virgin in the swap. But I have been feeling lucky lately so maybe it will hold:-D

Offline Finski

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If something goes wrong, bye a laying queen.
If you cannot sleep, don't rear queens.

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Offline windfall

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I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old in the house....nothing (besides them) keeps me from sleeping the few precious hours I get!

but I do like to think about what is happening in the hives and how to deal with it, part of the learning curve.

 

anything