View Full Version : queen caging
04-24-2005, 04:59 PM
I wanted to see what peoples' experiences and thoughts were on queen caging for the control of varroa. I understand that the concept is to cage the queen for approx 1 week to break the varroa breeding cycle. Has anybody seen success with this practice themselves? How many times per year would you do this? Would once during early summer and once in late summer be sufficient? I am a hobbiest and although I like gettng lots of excess honey, my main goal now is keeping my bees without chemicals and still getting a decent honey flow so I don't mind losing a week's worth of brood in the process if it is really that helpful with assisting the colonies with their varroa control.
04-24-2005, 05:06 PM
If it were me, I'd do it two weeks before the main flow for about a month and maybe one more time for a week in late summer. But then I've never done it. It's just that timing would help maximize the amount of honey collected and minimize the amount of bees to feed through the late summer.
04-24-2005, 08:08 PM
This was discussed elsewhere on the web, and these were the notes I took for myself:
Prevent queen from laying for-
2 weeks clears all open brood
3 weeks clears all worker brood
24 days clears all drone brood
Others will surely correct this if it's wrong, but that's what I wrote down from the discussion.
Suggestions for accomplishing this were to
1) put queen in a nuc (with bees from another hive to avoid contamination if breaking for controlling one of the foul broods) and let the infested hive raise a new queen. This gives you a "natural" break of ~ 28 days.
2) cage the queen inside the hive
I wonder, however, if keeping her caged for so long might be a problem. Will it stress her too much? will her pheromones make it through the whole hive? These might need be considered unless someone can comment on it here.
04-24-2005, 09:20 PM
A month sounds to be pretty long to keep her caged. I would be caging her in the hive since I don't have any nucs to use. 2-3 weeks sounds a little more reasonable. I don't believe I have an infestation problem. Both of my hives made it through the winter very strong (I used Check-Mite last fall) and they seem to be doing very well now. I am going chemical-free this year and considered this as a method to help control any possible build-up of mites. What would be the thoughts on doing it for 21-24 days in the early fall after the honey flow has pretty much ceased? It seems that this would clear all brood as Wayacote suggested and it is one of her slow-down periods anyway and it would not interfere with honey collection. Also it seems that it would clear (nearly) all mites before heading into that period where they seem to be at their peak numbers before heading into the winter.
04-25-2005, 07:35 AM
I'd rather remove her and let them raise a new queen than cage her, but the timing of being queenlees for that month will increase the honey harvest.
DURING the flow is when you don't want open brood in the hive because it ties up nurse bees that could be foraging.
04-25-2005, 10:31 AM
We have been around the block using this technique in combination with another process.
First, we found that there was no harm or losses if the queen cage is CENTERED in the hive where she remains recognized.
We started with push-in cages that were made from #8 hard wire mesh. The bees tore up the frames too much trying to release her so we now fabricate small cages.
"I'd rather remove her and let them raise a new queen than cage her, but the timing of being queenlees for that month will increase the honey harvest."
You are sure right about that! Much has been written about this by George Demuth and Killion.
We know that the workers duties can advance or retard due to circumstances.
George Demuth (former editor of Bee Culture)had a cool quote, "Are we raising bees for the harvest or ON the harvest?" Meaning that the increase of honey foraging at the peak of the flow can sometimes be much more important than raising tons of brood late in the season.
These writers had no intention of causing broodlessness as a method of rendering Varroa vunurable to attack.
If Sucrocide works for example, one could treat on day 25 and expect a clean hive. Only follow-up tests would tell.
Controlled broodless periods in combination with effective mite removal strategies can reduce the need for treatments greatly, especially for those yards somewhat isolated.
04-28-2005, 10:17 AM
I have heard about the increase of honey production when nurse bees are "rerouted" to nectar collection duties. I question my bees' abilities to make a new queen if I removed her. Last year, I started off the season with one hive which made the winter. I made a split to the second hive without a new queen being introduced to let them make their own. That happened in April. That hive did not produce a laying queen all summer and I finally gave in and introduced a new queen through the push-in cage method and that hive did well through the winter. In short, I don't know why they didn't produce their own queen, maybe there were not enough drones in the area to mate one or one was hatched and when she made the mating flight, met her doom somehow.
"I'd rather remove her and let them raise a new queen than cage her, but the timing of being queenlees for that month will increase the honey harvest."---Doesn't a queenless colony tend to get a foul temper?
04-28-2005, 10:58 AM
A hive that is in the process of rasing a queen is not really queenless. They have queen cells and that seems to satisfy the bees' need for a queen for a while.
I don't know why they wouldn't succeed at rasing a new queen. I do know that I've often, unintentionally, destroyed queen cells by manipulating the hive and breaking a queen cell that caught somewhere when removing the frame or that was anchored between two combs.
04-29-2005, 12:43 PM
I'm sure I have done that in the past too, but I know that I had some queens hatch by the empty cups, but never got a laying queen back. I was worried about their irritability because one hive seems to be getting a little irritable now. Their queen is about 2 years old and I have a new one on order for late June. I thought about culling the old one late in May to help with the varroa and also with acceptability of the new queen in June. Anyway, that hive is near the neighbor's property and although he has a lot of interest in them, being a nursery owner, he knows the importance of honey bees, I didn't want them to get too irritable when he is mowing near the hive. I am sure that once the new queen gets established, the colony will get much calmer again.
04-30-2005, 07:29 PM
IMO, it seems like a lot of work to find the queen, cage her, come back in x amount if days, interduce her and start the process all over again.
But than again, I baby my hives smile.gif
05-01-2005, 06:29 PM
"IMO, it seems like a lot of work to find the queen, cage her, come back in x amount if days, interduce her and start the process all over again. But than again, I baby my hives "
Chef, this is a valid concern.
How's this for a method of justification:
Find and cage the queen; you normally find and kill her anyway.
Return to the hive to release her; you return to the hive to drop the new queen anyway.
But before you place the new queen in the hive you have an opportunity to clear the majority of mites from the hive due to the fact that they are all out there, looking at you.
So if you accomplish that, you SAVE two additional trips in and out of the hive to drop and remove strips.
05-02-2005, 03:55 PM
I agree with Harry, it doesn't seem that you would have to re-introduce her because she's already their queen. You would just be setting her loose to do her thing again.
heres my question, I retrieved a feral hive (just bee's, not the comb)that had been queenless for about 2 weeks, I hive them and gave them a frame of capped brood on one side and eggs on the other side, the rest of the hive was foundation, they were in the hive about 3-4 weeks and I neverfound a queen cell or never seen any eggs, so I joined them with 1 of my weekest hives (this years package), I looked at the BB of that feral hive after I combing the hives and saw about 15 dead mites. my question is did I just put mites in my hive by istalling those bee's with my package hive even if they were without a queen for 5-6 weeks, there were drones in the bee's I installed.
05-02-2005, 06:52 PM
Virtually every hive has mites. You would have had them anyway.