Well, I put three new packages in on Sat. Everything went great. On Sunday afternoon I checked my hives and found one of the three seemed to be less active that the other two. I was concerned but decided to let things go as they were for time being. After checking with some of the neighbors they stated they heard what sounded like a swarm of bees, This happened while I was gone to church.
Yesterday, I decided to check and see if there was any bees left in the hive. I opened the hive and found a considerably smaller amount of bees and the marked queen that came from the package. The majority of bees were on the comb, not may field bees.
I think what happened is that there was an unmarked queen in the package and they swarmed with her.
Any comment or suggestions as to what may have really happened, would be greatly appreciated.
That reminds me of one of my first bee experiences with a top bar hive. Last summer (my first year in beekeeping), I bought a package of bees for a top bar hive. While transferring the bees into the hive, the queen was able to fly away due to a defect in the queen cage, and I thought she was never to be seen again. In 2 days, I managed to get another queen to replace her. When I checked the hive to put the new queen in, all was fine and the bees seemed content. Well, I placed the new queen in the hive thinking all would be well. When I checked the hive the next day, all the bees were gone except for the new queen and about 10 bees that had stayed behind. What I suspect happened is that the initial queen managed to fly into the hive and was accepted by the bees, then when I placed a new queen, not realizing the old one was there, all the bees took off with their original queen. It was a sad story, but a learning experience.
"I think what happened is that there was an unmarked queen in the package and they swarmed with her."
Yes, I'd think so too.
I had 2 packages out of 15 that had virgin queens. Mine did not swarm, but killed the caged queen. When I went over to pick up some new mated queens I asked my dealer and he said that I wasn't alone. He's had several people call him with the same problem. Some are swarming, some are killing the new queens.
Fremont, NH USA
I never had that problem.
I have had a new package abscond and move in with the package in the hive next to them. I'm not sure why nor am I sure what happend to the queen. Maybe she went with them and maybe they abondoned her and she flew off. I never found her.
So what is the theory on how all these virgin queens get into packages? Do you think the hive they shook the bees from was getting ready for an afterswarm and the queens got shaken into the package? Usually they make sure they know where the queen is before shaking, but maybe they found one virgin queen or maybe the old queen was still there? Or maybe it had just swarmed or superceded? If there are more than one then it get's even more confusing.
After reading this, I have to go back and check one of my newly installed packages. I put the package in on Saturday and returned on Tuesday to remove the queen cage. I found the queen released but being balled on the bottom board. Perhaps there was another queen. After 4 days I thought they would of excepted her by now. Never thought that there could be another queen in the package.
Looks like there is enough bees to make it, but they have alot of build up to do. I gave the all drawn comb, so they have that going for them. They are being fed syrup and Bee-Pro patties. They will probably make it, just not expecting any honey from them, but they may surprise me.
How do you tell if you have a virgin queen with your package?
About virgin queens:
You can't tell if there is one in your package.
The package producers try to not shake virgins in with the bees. I worked with a package producer a few years ago, and I can testify to the fact that it is near impossible to guarantee that you are not shaking a virgin into a package. They are the same size and look much like the workers. I do know that he looked a frame over very carefully before shaking to try to avoid this problem.
last year i had a package that i found the queen dead in her cage,i found another queen who i presumed had killed her.the queen looked fat and healthy and acted as if she owned the place, she was laying like mad and hasn't quit.virgin queens would take longer to get started,maybe a week to sexually mature,a week to mate,and a few days after that before she starts laying.