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Author Topic: bees balling queen  (Read 2726 times)

Offline ApalacheeRiverFarms

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bees balling queen
« on: July 25, 2012, 09:08:37 PM »
So I checked a hive today and immediately see bees balling my queen. The biggest thing I noticed was that they are packing the brood box with honey!  They have two supers on them with room to spare there. not sure what to make of it. she's from a package from last year. Did see one small supersedure cell but that's all. brood pattern was spotty on some and ok on others... A ton of bees in there. I ended up pulling four frames out for two splits so maybe she'll have some place to lay and they'll move on up with the honey. This is on a cotton field in bloom btw.  Yes I suck as a beekeeper.

Offline kathyp

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2012, 09:22:42 PM »
don't know why you think you suck as a beekeeper  :)  you spotted something going on and recognized what it was.  that's better than a lot of us do.

my best guess is that she was a spare.  you probably have another queen in there if you didn't move her accidentally in your splits.  opening the brood area is the right thing to do.  then watch them and see what they do. 

it's normal for them to backfill when they prepare for winter, but it seems early and you don't want to have a late swarm.
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline ApalacheeRiverFarms

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 11:07:33 PM »
I did look for another queen and didn't find one, but I'll check in the morning before I put the new queens in there. it does seem early for them to fill it up when the cotton is blooming well and there is plenty of open supers. I guess I just wish they'd fill more up for me. There is a medium super almost full and an empty super with foundation I baited with a couple frames. just hope I'm on the right track. :)

Offline kathyp

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 11:55:42 PM »
try putting the empty super right over the brood rather than on top of the full one.  see if they will fill it better that way. 
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline ApalacheeRiverFarms

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2012, 08:48:05 AM »
that's what I've been doing. Doesn't seem to help. it actually seems like it made them backfill the brood box.

Offline JackM

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2012, 09:11:11 AM »
Newbie here too, but I notice that my bees will build foundationless before they will use plastic foundation, every time.  You foundation is waxed, correct?
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Offline ApalacheeRiverFarms

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2012, 09:32:14 AM »
Yes, it's waxed. the same bees built these same frames out this spring and I had to spatula the wax and honey off the frames because I don't have an extractor yet unfortunately. I simply strained it and it turned out great. I left some comb intact along with some honey thinking that would jump start them rebuilding it. It's been a couple weeks.

Offline tryintolearn

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2012, 09:39:45 AM »
kathyp   when u say place an empty souper on over brood do u mean one with foundation??? new here...or an empty box???  tryintolearn

Offline kathyp

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2012, 11:04:34 AM »
empty of honey...foundation or not.  if you are trying to get new foundation (or scraped)  built out, the flow needs to be good.  + no excluders.  if they have drawn comb to choose from and the flow is not to great, it is my experience that they will store in what is drawn out rather than waste effort drawing new.
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline BjornBee

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2012, 11:11:11 AM »
First, most flows have at least slowed down. Factor in that we are well past the summer solstice, and most hives will go into frugal mode, and would rather fill existing comb, than waste resources drawing comb when they really don't need too.

For the record, if you place a box below and one above an existing brood chamber, bees will almost always draw above where trapped heat helps in the process.

If you place wax foundation, the bees may chew it out at this time of the year. With plastic, they will stop at some time, and can pick back up at a later time, with no damage to the foundation.

As for balling the queen......most times you find this happening, you should just close it back up. Bees ball queens for several reasons, including protecting her from robbers and other bees inside the hive, as seen with combining, etc. If the bees wanted her dead, they could kill her within seconds. Beekeepers should never try to "rescue" her by prying off bees, etc. I have found that about 90% of the times I find a balled queen, the queen is healthy and laying eggs a week later.
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Offline ApalacheeRiverFarms

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2012, 11:31:36 AM »
the flow has been slow, but they are now on a big cotton field that has been getting lots of rain and is really starting to bloom heavily. when I did a drive by the other day, mid day, they were flying fast and furious. The grower says it'll be blooming good for another few weeks. When it slows, I have one close (1mile) to my house that he planted last that should give me a few more weeks.

Never heard of anyone "bottom brooding"... Bottom supering hasn't given me good results so I don't think I'll try it again anytime soon.

Offline kathyp

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2012, 01:19:45 PM »
i always add additional brood boxes under the existing.  not sure if that was what you were talking about. 
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline rdy-b

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2012, 01:34:37 PM »
so your bees where back filling the brood nest with honey
 and you see a queen cell has been made-also the bees are balling
 the queen-it sounds like your bees wanted to swarm-the queen decides
 nothing she is a slave to the hive if she wont fly they will stop feeding her and
 drag here out  -I am surprised that this is going on this late -It is prime swarm
 behavior-versus a cast swarm -which is what would have happen once the new queen cell hatched
they would have swarmed with the virgin queen--
when i find bees balling a queen its generally in a swarm and it means there are multiple virgins in the swarm
in your cases it sounds as if they where trying to force the queen into submission--RDY-B

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2012, 08:27:23 PM »
when i find bees balling a queen its generally in a swarm and it means there are multiple virgins in the swarm
in your cases it sounds as if they where trying to force the queen into submission--RDY-B
I would have said that balling is more indicative of supercedure rather than a swarm.  The backfilling may be a result of poor queen performance and the bees are just filling in the empty cells that should have brood but don't.
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Offline rdy-b

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2012, 10:32:04 PM »
**I would have said that balling is more indicative of supercedure rather than a swarm.**

 can you expand on this i find it interesting subject-- 8-) RDY-B

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2012, 11:03:43 PM »
I just mean that since the queen represents the genetic base of the hive, what would be the point of killing her?  If the hive were going to swarm, she would normally be part of the primary swarm.  If the bees are killing the queen, that would be part of superceding her because she is not performing well. 

Another way to say it would be that if the queen has not been laying well, it is unlikely that the hive is in good shape for a swarm. 

Backfilling would usually be part of swarm preparation, but the bees will put honey where it is convenient.  If the queen had stopped laying, there would be lots of empty space for honey in the brood nest.

Why do you associate balling with swarm prep?
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Offline rdy-b

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2012, 11:28:33 PM »
 when the queen is balled it is not done to kill her-if they want to kill her it is fast
 there are many reasons for this behavior-not nesicarly swarm prep-but it can be
the bees way of controling the queen-its the backfilling that is swarm prep---the new queen
 is the one who dispatches the old queen-not the hive population- (in a superseder event )

also as i have pointed out the balling of the queen is not intended to kill her-i should point out
 that many queens cant take the many light stings and the forceive treatment and die as a result
 i have seen queens balled for periods of 48 hrs--RDY-B

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2012, 11:50:07 PM »
RDY-B, You have a very different view of supercedure and balling than what I have seen.  All sources I have read and my own observations suggest that the queen is killed by over-heating in the ball.  Virgin queens are known to kill each other in a battle for supremacy,  but I'm not aware of either laying queens or virgin queens stinging a laying queen to death.  I think killing a queen must be a consensus decision.

I agree that the bees will sometimes constrain the movements of a queen, but I don't think they require a ball to do that.
"You never can tell with bees."  --  Winnie-the-Pooh

Offline nypam

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2012, 11:53:54 PM »
Ok ....what is balling the queen? Inquiring minds want to know.

Offline rdy-b

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Re: bees balling queen
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2012, 02:27:29 AM »
**RDY-B, You have a very different view of superseder and balling than what I have seen.  All sources I have read and my own observations suggest that the queen is killed by over-heating in the ball.**

 yes there is much controversy on the subject-I do know one thing and that is the colony would
 NEVER kill the queen without a new queen (not a queen cell waiting to hatch) in the Hive--also
 there is no one size fits all when talking about queen balling-your association with superseder
 and queen balling is interesting-- 8-) RDY-B