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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Edgefield County, South Carolina
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    Default Balling Queen???

    I have a hive that I was trying to re-queen. I took the old queen out 24 hour prior and placed a new queen in a cage in the hive. I returned in about five days to check and possibly release the queen and shb had taken over the hive. It was a fairly strong hive. I left the queen in the cage and shook all the bees on new drawn comb in a nuc and placed the queen in the cage back in the hive. The nuc is packed w/bees but afraid to place them in a ten frame.

    I later returned three days later to check the queen in the cage. Seems they were attending the queen and not balling the cage. I pulled the plug and returned the cage. (Last free release I tried -- I lost the queen.) I returned today -- two days later to remove the empty cage, I noticed a ball of bees about the size of a golf ball @ the bottom of a frame. No bees on other frames were acting like this. After further inspection I found the queen in the ball. She was not in a hurry to scamper off or anything so I plucked her from the ball and caged her again.

    Was this small ball of bees balling the queen?

    Should I try and introduce her in a cage next time?

    I have some #8 wire is that small enough for a cage?

    Any other suggestions or did I jump the gun by returning her to the cage?
    Last edited by sc-bee; 09-16-2008 at 10:03 PM.
    sc-bee

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Default

    Next time, leave her alone. It's better than 90% odds she would of been ok. If they wanted her dead, they would of killed her. Balling is about many things, and not just about killing the queen.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    Default

    I had a swarm issue here that had 2 queens in it. I boxed them, and the bees kept the queens balled up away from each other for a couple days. The third day or so, only one queen was in the box, and she was not balled. I figure they were balling the queens to keep the safe and seperate from each other until they all figured out which queen they wanted to keep.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Concord NH
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    Next time, leave her alone. It's better than 90% odds she would of been ok. If they wanted her dead, they would of killed her. Balling is about many things, and not just about killing the queen.
    Bjorn, could you elaborate on the other things about Balling?
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Edgefield County, South Carolina
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    Default

    Should I release her again tomorrow? I'd rather release than a push in cage. Less trouble for me.
    sc-bee

  6. #6
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    Jul 2008
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    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
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    Default

    BjornBee is right, I have seen how they will attack a queen right away. You would have never found her alive if they wanted her dead. She had been there long enough to smell like them.

    Balling could have been an intruder or something else.

    When you plug the cage what do you use?

  7. #7
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    Jul 2008
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    Venango/Crawford Pennsylvania
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sc-bee View Post
    Should I release her again tomorrow? I'd rather release than a push in cage. Less trouble for me.
    If you have taken her from the hive I would leave her in the cage. They will kill her if you don't.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPK1NH View Post
    Bjorn, could you elaborate on the other things about Balling?

    Balling traditionally has been seen as little more than bees trying to kill the queen.

    But as already noted, there are other reasons for balling. They include controlling the queen prior to a swarm issuing, prior to a queen cell opening, possibly for her own protection due to aggressive bees but being balled by nurse bees in protection mode, and for simple trigger mechanisms such as with the trauma of requeening and other disturbances. Balling is also a instinct type thing bees do to "protect" her. (They sense something wrong, etc.) Its probably one area that we don't fully understand.

    I know from seeing it many times, if the queen is out and being balled two day later, it is almost a given she will be ok. If they wanted her dead, they would kill her within seconds.

  9. #9
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    May 2008
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    Concord NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    Balling traditionally has been seen as little more than bees trying to kill the queen.

    But as already noted, there are other reasons for balling. They include controlling the queen prior to a swarm issuing, prior to a queen cell opening, possibly for her own protection due to aggressive bees but being balled by nurse bees in protection mode, and for simple trigger mechanisms such as with the trauma of requeening and other disturbances. Balling is also a instinct type thing bees do to "protect" her. (They sense something wrong, etc.) Its probably one area that we don't fully understand.

    I know from seeing it many times, if the queen is out and being balled two day later, it is almost a given she will be ok. If they wanted her dead, they would kill her within seconds.
    Great insight!

    Thank you for sharing!
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Edgefield County, South Carolina
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    >When you plug the cage what do you use?

    She is in a JBZ cage and I used the plastic plug (cover w/stem) @ end to seal the cage. She is in the hive now caged --- I never removed her just caged her!

    Not sure which cage I like best, JBZ or wooden style--- I can see in the old wood type better. Trying to release one of the queens I just put in last week I lost one I feel I would not have lost if I could have seen in the cage better!

    Yea I know, remove the candy plug, but presently I have mobility issues and was trying to make less trips to yard.
    sc-bee

  11. #11
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    Jun 2008
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    Sacramento,California,USA
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    I always plug the cage hole with a mini-marshmellow. Some people mix sugar with honey until it is a hard-candy constency, which should take longer to chew thru than a marshmellow.

    Are the bees acting aggressively towards her in the cage? Or, are they feeding her thru the cage? If they are feeding her, then just releasing her should be ok.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
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    232

    Default Re: Balling Queen???

    I just requeened a dwindling hive. I took the old queen out yesterday, and put the new queen cage in. I poked 2 small holes in the candy end of the cage. I probably jumped the gun, but about 30 hours later, I went ahead and released the new queen into the hive because they had not done so. About 15 bees immediately balled her. I came inside the house to check on the meaning of that, and got the idea that it would be best for me to recage her and give the hive more time to acclimate to her. When I tried to catch her, she flew out of the hive. I thought she was a goner, but not 2 minutes later, I found her back inside the hive, but this time walking around on some comb, no longer being balled. I figured I had best leave the hive alone for a while, because my constantly lifting every bar to try and find her had most likely just made things worse.
    If they had been trying to kill her, would she have willingly come back into the hive?
    And, if they had been trying to kill her, wouldn't they have done it quickly?
    If I had it to do over again, I would have waited a few more days before releasing her into the hive. The hive was in dire straights with the old queen, and I admit to being impatient to get the new queen in asap.
    I think my answer will be quite clear next time I go into the hive. I feel like a real schmuck at the moment, and I hope I didn't sentence her to death.

    Sondra

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