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  1. #1
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    Question Found two queens on the ground under hive

    Yesterday evening it walked out to the bee yard and saw a lot of activity under my biggest hive. When I got close, I saw two balls of bees about the size of an egg and a lot of bees fighting around the hive. Also there were a fair number of dead bees on the ground near the two balls. I found two queens in the balls, one looked like a virgin/new queen the other was quite a bit bigger and older and was obviously not a virgin. I caged both queens and put them in a screen topped mason jar with a few of the clinging bees. The fighting stopped almost immediately and most of the bees went back into the hive. This morning, both queens were still alive and it appeared that the clinging bees were feeding them through the cage. I went out to the hive and took a quick peek. All seemed normal, still full of bees. They have one super on that is about 40-50% full. All my other hives seem normal as well. I talked to Velbert Williams last night and he seem inclined to think it was an attempt by an external swarm to invade the hive.

    Has anyone had any similar experience?

    I am a bit concerned since there were two queens being balled. This hive was started in the third week of April from a package on fully drawn comb. They have exploded and currently occupy 2 deeps and one shallow super. I saw no signs of swarm or supercedure cells at my last inspection about 14 days ago. They had about 4 - 5 frames of brood in various stages in each deep and the rest of the frames in the deeps were mostly sealed honey. All the frames in the deeps are completely covered with bees. The super has about 4 - 5 frames of sealed honey with the rest of the frames being partially drawn foundation. The frames in the super are generally not quite as densely covered in bees as the frames in the deeps. Each night there is a softball sized cluster of bees crowded around the upper entrance (about a 4" x 3/8" slot in an Imre shim), which is about the same as my other hives. They are currently bringing in some pollen, but the super has been at a static stage for the last two - three weeks, so I don't think there is much flow left, which is quite typical for my area this time of year. It seems unlikely that they would decide to swarm this late, but I guess not impossible.

    I have decided to try to keep the queens alive until this weekend when I will check the hive for signs of a queen.

    We do have AHB in the area and this time of year is the beginning of their summer swarm/absconding season. Could be an attempt at takeover by AHB, but the two queens still seems confusing to me.

  2. #2
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    Velbert's proably right. I haven't delt with AHB's, yet, although they are around during the summer.

    I would suggest you check your hive, and see if you have a queen in there, if not, chances are the older queen is the one that belongs there, as I think when AHB's try to invade a hive, that they have virgins in these swarms.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by peggjam View Post
    "...I haven't delt with AHB's, yet, although they are around during the summer...."
    Around during the summer where? Say they are not in NY where you are?

  4. #4
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    With the number of migatory guys coming through from points south, you better believe we have AHB around during the summer.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  5. #5
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    is it possible that some disstant hive swarmed, the old queen with them, but that it had a virgin that took an afterswarm to your hive? they may have been desperate for a home, and their small afterswarm balled your old queen, and your workers balled their virgin intruder.

  6. #6
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    Hmmmm...thats nice to know and news to me...! I hadn't a clue any AHB were around anywhere in NY, or the Northeast for that matter...! Just curious, has anyone had experience in the Northeast with AHB...?
    Kevin M.

  7. #7
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    Talk to Lloyd Spears.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by FordGuy View Post
    is it possible that some disstant hive swarmed, the old queen with them, but that it had a virgin that took an afterswarm to your hive? they may have been desperate for a home, and their small afterswarm balled your old queen, and your workers balled their virgin intruder.
    Not really sure yet, I will check the hive on Sunday to see if there is any evidence of a queen (ie eggs). They are still acting very normal. No different hive sounds, no extra aggression, so they sure don't act queenless. Velbert said that sometimes there is a virgin in a swarm with an old queen, maybe thats the case here. The bees that were balling the two queens seem to be doing it more as a protective act, when I caged the queens, they clung to the cage and it looked like they were feeding her. The queens are still alive as of this evening (24 hrs later) with some of the bees that were clinging to them as attendants. The whole episode is somewhat strange and disconcerting.

  9. #9
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    a question to gene... was the old queen damaged (frayed wings would be what I would look for) in any way? with anykind of wing damage an old queen will take off in an attempt to swarm and have problems in flying much beyond 15 to 20 feet.

    given that a number of folks have suggested that queens (and virgins) can have navigational problems, it might be worthwhile to check any other hives you might have in the same yard as to being queenright.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    a question to gene... was the old queen damaged (frayed wings would be what I would look for) in any way? with anykind of wing damage an old queen will take off in an attempt to swarm and have problems in flying much beyond 15 to 20 feet.

    given that a number of folks have suggested that queens (and virgins) can have navigational problems, it might be worthwhile to check any other hives you might have in the same yard as to being queenright.
    Neither queen seemed to be damaged in any way. I will be checking all 5 of my hives this weekend (weather permitting). I did a quick visual up through the screened bottom board and nothing seems out of the ordinary. All 5 hives are acting the same as they always have. Two out of the 5 have marked queens, including the hive I found these queens near. I saw no evidence of marking on the older of these two queens, I know that the workers can chew the marking off pretty well so thats not definitive. The other thing odd about these two queens is they were really yellow like pure Italians and a lot of the dead bees were really yellow as well. None of my bees are colored like this. I have Russians, Carniolans and Weaver's BeeSmart. The BeeSmart's are the closest to Italian, but they are not nearly as yellow as these bees.

  11. #11
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    This is a case of having marked queens would be useful.

    I just read an article the other day about AHB usurpation of hives and this is the time of year for it.

    If an AHB swarm usurped your hive you would not know it and they would kill or throw out you old queen. If you were lucky enough to find her, then you need to kill the African takeover queen and reintroduce her (original queen) in the hive.

    Or maybe if you can get a marked queen quickly you can put her in there. I don't envy you having to deal with AHB there in Texas.
    Troy

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    This is a case of having marked queens would be useful.

    I just read an article the other day about AHB usurpation of hives and this is the time of year for it.

    If an AHB swarm usurped your hive you would not know it and they would kill or throw out you old queen. If you were lucky enough to find her, then you need to kill the African takeover queen and reintroduce her (original queen) in the hive.

    Or maybe if you can get a marked queen quickly you can put her in there. I don't envy you having to deal with AHB there in Texas.
    The original queen for this hive was marked. I will be checking the hive on Sunday (4 days after this event). If I find eggs I can be reasonably certain that they are not queenless. I don't know if a usurpation queen can begin laying in 4 days or not so I will be trying to find the original marked queen in any case. If I find eggs but not the marked queen, then I am not sure what to do. This is a very strong hive, so if this was an AHB usurpation attempt, I am a little surprised. Everything I have read about AHB says that weak hives or hives with a caged queen are the most vulnerable to AHB takeover.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    a question to gene... was the old queen damaged (frayed wings would be what I would look for) in any way? with anykind of wing damage an old queen will take off in an attempt to swarm and have problems in flying much beyond 15 to 20 feet.

    given that a number of folks have suggested that queens (and virgins) can have navigational problems, it might be worthwhile to check any other hives you might have in the same yard as to being queenright.
    tecumseh:
    It appears that you may be on to something here. I checked my hives this weekend and found that one of my Russian hives appears to be queenless. I found no brood or eggs and the brood nest was completely backfilled with honey and pollen. I have my hives setting on "racks" made from landscape timbers and concrete blocks. I have two racks, the Russian hive is about 25 feet southeast of the rack with the hive where I found the two queens on the ground and is in the same position on the rack. All the rest of the hives, including the one where the two queens were found appear to be queenright (found eggs and plenty of brood in them).

    Now the question is what to do with this Russian hive? When I last inspected them (three weeks ago) they seemed to be doing well. They had just started to move up into the second deep and they had plenty of brood and eggs. Now they are totally confined to the lower deep with no brood and possibly no queen. They do seem to have plenty of stores. Should I attempt to introduce a new queen (unfortunately, I was unsuccessful at keeping the two queens I found on the ground alive) or wait a while to see if they have one that just has not yet started laying? Also, should I remove the upper deep since it is completely empty (they only partially drew out a couple of frames of foundation)?

  14. #14
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    It should be easy to tell if they have a virgin, look for cells that they are starting to tear down, that have been ripped open from the side. It usually takes them a few days to get them torn down.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by peggjam View Post
    It should be easy to tell if they have a virgin, look for cells that they are starting to tear down, that have been ripped open from the side. It usually takes them a few days to get them torn down.
    I did not find much evidence of torn down cells when I checked out the Russian hive yesterday, but it has been 4-5 days since the "queen" episode. My experience in the past with Russians has been that they don't waste much time tearing them down.

  16. #16
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    you might wish to give the russians a frame of larvae, but with plenty of stores I would be surprised if they didn't have a young virgin queen on board already. guessin' for sure....

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