1. Join Date
Apr 2009
Location
Harris Co., Tx, USA
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## Two Hypothetical Questions

Hey there,

These truly are hypothetical, but I'm curious to get peoples' opinions.

1st Q: Suppose you hived a new package of bees, then opened up the hive the next day to see if the queen had been released. If she hadn't and you decided to release her manually, but she escaped and flew off in the process, how likely is it that she would go back into the hive and be accepted?

2nd Q: Suppose you hived a new colony and, for whatever reason, you knew that the queen died shortly thereafter, before she was able to lay any eggs, so that there were no eggs from which to raise a new queen. So, new colony with no queen or eggs. Would the colony be able to get by or sustain itself for 2-3 weeks until a new queen could be installed or would it be a total disaster?

I'm interested to hear everyone's opinions on this. Thanks.

2. Moderator
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Apr 2006
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Welcome aboard. Here are some hypothetical answers!

1) There's a decent chance that the flying queen will find her way back. If that ever happens while you're doing a direct release, stand still and wait. You're kind of a landmark and sometimes she'll find her way back to you. I've had a queen crawl out the entrance, land on the ground and crawl back up....past the entrance and halfway up the hive body before I realized what was going on. If that flying queen does find her way back, she'll be accepted pretty readily.

2) 2-3 weeks is a longish time but not the end of the world. Things might happen in the meantime. If you have a new package installed near another colony, bees flying from your queenless package may drift to the queenright hive since they'll sense the pheromone. Over time, your queenless colony may dwindle as field bees leave but return to the "normal" hive. Or, lacking brood pheromone, the queenless package can develop laying workers. A laying worker hive is notorious for difficulties in re-queening. I guess I would wonder why it would take 2-3 weeks for a queen to be installed. If you ordered a queen tomorrow, you might have it by the end of the week....certainly early next week. That's typically NOT too long for a colony to be queenless. Finally, with regards to question number two, if you could get a frame or two of eggs / mixed brood in there, you can pretty much cut the odds of a laying worker hive down considerably and....if you have drones.....they might just make their own queen.

3. Join Date
Dec 2007
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Funny thing #1.
Two years ago I did 4 splits and introduced 4 new queens (in cages). Checked 3 days later and all but 1 was out. I decided to do the direct release method and watched her walk out onto the top bar and then off she went. She never did return (although I hear some do) I just let them be and they raised their own. No more direct release for me, something about watching \$\$\$ flying away just aint right
Perry

4. Join Date
Apr 2009
Location
Harris Co., Tx, USA
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Hi Ravenseye, and thanks! O.K., I guess I'm not fooling anyone with the "hypothetical". These are the actual situation I'm dealing with, but I kinda feel like an idiot. I don't usually do dumb things like I described above, but sometimes...well, stuff happens. I'm as wet-behind-the-ears as you can get. Done lots of reading beforehand, but that's the difference between book knowledge and experience.

And I know I shouldn't have been opening the hives back up after one day, but when I installed the package in the Langstroth hive (the other is top-bar), it seemed like I couldn't get all ten frames back inside without crushing bees, so I decided I'd wait and put it in after a week. Then I read that the bees would put burr-comb in that space and make a huge mess, which is why I opened on the second day. While I was at it, I figured I'd check the queen and release her. Big mistake. Found her dead in front of the hive that evening (yesterday). So, I know that that new colony is queenless and eggless.

The other colony (top-bar) may or may not have a queen, depending on whether she flew back in.

I have no other colonies for them to join with or transfer brood, like you said. And I wanted to go ahead and order replacement queens that I thought would arrive in a week, tops, like you also mentioned.

Maybe I didn't search long enough, but it seemed that most places were either sold out for the year or couldn't ship till early to mid May, so I went with R Weaver. That's where I got my packages, but they can't ship any queens till May 4.

Any further thoughts? Other than that I'm a total screw-up? Ha ha.

5. Moderator
Join Date
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Well, you're not a total screw up....you're normal. And, better than that, you know what happened and you're here asking about it. Sounds like you're a cut above to me. Hats off to you!

Here's a couple of ideas. First, is there anyone in your area...a mentor, a member of a bee club...some local beek that can give you a frame of bees? That's what you need in your certain queenless hive until you can get a queen in there. Second, keep an eye on your "maybe" queenless hive. Look for eggs but be careful. Go slow. While you're looking for eggs, look for a queen. If you find her or if you find eggs, leave well enough alone and concentrate on your other hive. Third, I'd be looking harder for a queen to be shipped. Check out the "For Sale" section here for starts and then google for a queen. It's no time to be fussy, you just need a queen. Once you get things under control, you can create more options later. Fourth, consider two queens. If, in fact, you have two queenless hives, it's better to get two queens on the way and bank one if you don't need her. Fifth, can you find a package anywhere that can be shipped quick? If so, you can hive a package and then do a combine. Later, you can split that hive once they've settled down.

There are more options but if you have a club in the area I'll bet you can get fixed up right quick.

Finally, don't despair. You're on the right track and things will work out in the end. Keep us in the loop!

Oh yeah....one more thought. Every year, a few packages arrive with a caged queen and another queen loose amongst the workers. You don't know it and, when the caged queen is released she's killed off. You think you have a queenless hive and you really have a queenright hive. Most people discover this when they order a replacement queen and she too is killed or, they open the hive to put the new queen in and they find brood. Surprise! So, while the odds are long, watch the supposedly queenless hive carefully. You might just find eggs and then brood! I'm not saying it will happen but one never knows.

6. Join Date
May 2007
Location
Murfreesboro, TN, USA
Posts
575
Don't feel so bad...it happened to me one time. But I was lucky as the queen flew back to the hive and was accepted ok.

7. Join Date
Mar 2008
Location
Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
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Most suppliers will save a few queens to send to those whose packages arrive with a dead queen. Have you told weaver about your situation?
If you find that you have at least one queen, you could combine the hives and then resplit when you get a second queen.

8. Join Date
Aug 2008
Location
Claremont, NH, USA
Posts
783
Originally Posted by mwb7434
These are the actual situation I'm dealing with, but I kinda feel like an idiot. I don't usually do dumb things like I described above, but sometimes...well, stuff happens.

Any further thoughts? Other than that I'm a total screw-up? Ha ha.
You are NOT a total screw up. Not even a partial one. You had the good sense to ask for advice, which is pretty much a recessive gene among men. I can't tell you how many completely stupid things I have done and STILL do to my bees. And you know what? They are pretty darn resilient. Ask questions, learn from experience, move on.

As you read this forum, you'll see that people post the good, the bad and, sometimes, the very very ugly. That's how we all learn.

By the way, is there a local agricultural publication you can read with a 'For sale' section? We have one up here that's on-line, and there are usually a couple of beeks, who list queens, nucs, packages, etc., especially this time of year. Also, check the bulletin board at your local feed store, or ask behind the desk, if they know of any beeks in the area.

Good luck,

Bill

9. Join Date
Apr 2009
Location
Mason County, Illinois USA
Posts
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Whenever you see a queen leave, stand in one place....but leave the top of the hive body open just a bit, so that the scent of the hive can escape. The lost queens will be searching for the same route back that they escape from and that was right out the top of the hive...not through an entrance reducer. The 'lost' queens want to get back into that safety of darkness inside the hive as soon as they can. The queen will usually come right back after a short flight.

I once opened a new hive and the queen flew out and up! I did not see her return, but just when I was ready to walk away and give up on her ever returning again, I looked down and seen her crawling up my leg. I carefully placed her back into the hive body again and all was well.

You might be new to the bees, but the bees have been doing this for a long time...they know what to do to survive in most cases. I have found out working with my own bees that they can be pretty forgiving at times. All of us make mistakes, it is human nature and how we learn...the hard way!

Brenda

10. Join Date
May 2006
Location
Erie, PA
Posts
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I had a hive go queenless last year and it sat for over a month before I put in a queen cell. Never even had a laying worker. The down side is that the population dwindled so much that they never recovered for the rigors of winter. Bottom line, it's possible, but all colonies are different.

11. Join Date
Apr 2009
Location
Harris Co., Tx, USA
Posts
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Thanks again, Ravenseye, bnatural, Rose et al. You've really helped me a lot. I will keep y'all in the loop.

Trying to get a new queen(s) sooner is a great idea, I'm sure, but as I said before, I already ordered the ones from Weaver- about \$60 in all, and I'm tapped out. It's getting kinda expensive, lol.

As of now, I think my plan is to check them again in a week, look for any signs of a queen or laying workers and keep my fingers crossed that they'll hang in there till the queens arrive and go from there.

I'm Lone Rangering it right now and don't know any other local beeks, though there is at least one association. I should contact them, I know, but, not being much of a joiner, that would be more of a last resort for me, a sign of true desperation, lol.

Standman- yeah, only I picked them up and the queens were doing just fine until I got home and started monkeying around, so it's my responsibility, not theirs. Anyway, they don't have any ready to ship right now.

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