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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Lenexa, Kansas
    Posts
    445

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    Does a color change in the worker bees mean they have changed their queen?

    Early this spring, the very first bees were striped and looked like Italians. (They are feral bees). Then, they changed to mostly gold, with just a little black near the stinger end of the abdomen.

    Well, now they have stripes again! It started out with just a few having stripes, now they all do! I saw a few drones not too long ago, they are black or mostly black.

    Do you think they changed queens TWICE this year???? I have never been able to find the queen, so I cannot just look at her and see if she is different! I know she is in there somewhere, because of the young bees and brood, but she sure is hard to find!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

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    >Does a color change in the worker bees mean they have changed their queen?

    Maybe. If you started with a swarm they should be daughters of the queen that they are with.

    >Early this spring, the very first bees were striped and looked like Italians. (They are feral bees). Then, they changed to mostly gold, with just a little black near the stinger end of the abdomen.

    Was this after hiving them as a swarm or overwintering?

    Of course if it was an afterswarm they could SISTERS to the new queen who could have mated with some other drones. Then they would change as her offspring replaced the bees from the swarm.

    >Well, now they have stripes again! It started out with just a few having stripes, now they all do! I saw a few drones not too long ago, they are black or mostly black.

    >Do you think they changed queens TWICE this year???? I have never been able to find the queen, so I cannot just look at her and see if she is different!

    Why not? You need to find her and mark her if you have that much trouble finding her. My guess is it was an afterswarm and the bees changed the first time because she was mated with other drones and the workers were not her daughters. The second change was probably a supercedure. Of course if they just get darker and shinier, sometimes that is because they are robbing. Of course they also could have superceded twice.

    >I know she is in there somewhere, because of the young bees and brood, but she sure is hard to find!

    If you put an exlcuder between each of the boxes and leave them for a couple of weeks, you'll be able to tell where the queen is by the open brood in the box she is in. Then you can search each frame for her. She's the long one. Often she is the same color as the workers (since you can't find her I'm guessing she is) but sometimes she is quite different in color. I have had a black queen who had brown itialian looking offspring. A lot of queens are all brown with no stripes but the workers are striped. The one I have in my observation hive right now looks just like the workers including the stripes except she has red legs and antennae.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    New Castle, VA USA
    Posts
    90

    Post

    The drones you are seeing coud have come from other hives. I've heard that drones come and go as they please in the swarming season, using their huge eyes to follow some worker bee back to it's hive to re-fuel and check for newly emerged queens. I tend to agree with this theory as I see some wierd looking drones in my hives from time to time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    Drones do wander in, but most of the ones I see are from that hive. I can tell in my observation hive because I watched them emerge. I have enough different colored bees that I can tell how much they drift and it is some, but not a lot.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

    Post

    You could see a change in the color of workers if there is a change in the queen.

    However, you can see a wide range of color in workers with the same queen assuming she was open mated. The more consistent the color of the workers, the more pure the mating to the same drone stock. The resulting workers are simply influenced by the stored semen which the queen used at the time of laying to fertilize the egg.

    Following the same line thought, if you raise queen daughters off an open mated queen, you can end up with any colored queen under the rainbow.

    The purity of the queen herself will be presented by the consistent color of her drones. If you happen to have a consistent color of drones and then notice a significant change in drone color, that would be a fairly good indicator that there has been a queen change. But drones do drift and will congregate in a hive which is full of virgins preparing to mate.


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