I have tried to requeen one hive 3 times now. The first time I found her but had gloves on and couldn't catch her. I took the frame to the shed about 20 feet away and put a few bees at a time into a box to make it easier to catch her. But after removing all the bees from the frame, she had disappeared. And by the presence of eggs in the hive not long after, I concluded she must have flown back. You see many flying queens who are not mating or swarming?
The second attempt I had the entire bee club over last year. We did a production line, handing the frames on until someone spotted her. But my offsider insisted on splitting the hive, and keeping her in a nuc. This is the same person who wouldn't go near that hive at times when they were in a bad mood. He must have forgotten that nucs grow into hives and so this year we've had the same sort of trouble. We put the hive at my mentor's place as we know he can handle them. But after the last inspection he said to tell the offsider that the hive needs a new bull. (The offsider is a cattleman and that is a concept he fully understands).
So last week we went one morning to find the queen, before my mentor goes away on a trip. This was finally going to be "Off with 'er 'ead!" He decided to move the brood box a distance away so we wouldn't be worried by so many bees and returning foragers. After a couple of hours of searching in vain, he also concluded that she is a flying queen. We reduced the hive to just the brood box and returned for another search the next day. I think some of the hive had decided this mucking around was too much and shifted to the hive next door. Well, we looked through every frame about 3 times again and still no sign, so we decided to risk it and install the new queen.
Now we are just waiting....will the Wiley Old Queen return to reclaim her hive and sting the interloper? Will the New Queen transform the hive into a happier environment for its beekeepers?
Stay tuned for the next exciting installment..