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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Fairfax, Vermont
    Posts
    106

    Default Just Installed Nucs + Finding Queen

    Hello I'm a beginner at keeping bees (Northern Vermont). I just installed two nucs (5frame) last week. During installation I looked for the queen in both nucs and didn't have any luck finding them. To begin, we fed them pollen patties and installed a hive top feeder. We only added about 6 cups of 1:1 sugar water to each hive top feeder to begin.

    After 5 days we checked on the hives to see how they were doing. One hive had already started to draw out comb on two of the new frames with foundation. The other hive hadn't started to draw any comb yet on the new foundation. Is the second hive just a little weaker and it's going to take longer. Is there something we should be doing to help them along?

    During the inspection after the five days, we looked the queens again and the results were the same, no luck. There are so many bees on the frames, its hard to focus and look at each and everyone of them. Does anyone have a trick or a routine to use that helps you locate the queen?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Phelps Co. Missouri USA
    Posts
    856

    Default

    Many beekeeping books state;
    " it's generally hard for a new beekeeper to locate the Queen "

    If I might add;
    " a lot of old beekeepers can't find them either "

    Ask your local beekeeper/club for pointers in beekeeping.

    PCM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Claremont, NH, USA
    Posts
    783

    Default

    What PCM said. Until then, you might try the following:

    Pull a frame for viewing. Sort of look at the whole frame at once, not focused on any one area. Let your eyes acclimate to what they are seeing. At first, it looks like chaos, but there is organization to the activity, just not what we are used to seeing (unless you've ever looked down on a busy city sidewalk from an office building window). If you wait a few seconds, the queen might suddenly jump out at you, because she moves differently from the rest and often has her attendants around her, facing her. If not, then flip and repeat. If you don't see her right away on either side, then scan from top left across to top right, down a few rows and then in the opposite direction. If nothing, then flip and repeat. If still nothing, then PUT THAT FRAME ASIDE, either in another box, or on a frame rest. If you put it on the ground, be careful, in case the queen was really on it. Now, repeat with the next frame. By putting the viewed frames aside, you make it less likely the queen will scoot across frames to the one you already looked at, if you just put in back in the original box. Can't guarantee you will find her, but this might help boost your percentages. And, remember, it is more important to see a good brood-laying pattern than to actually see the queen.

    Good luck,

    Bill
    “If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.” - Dale Carnegie

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default

    also, look near brood..... she probably won't be near the food frames... I realize with a nuc there are not many frames to review for brood, but as the hive fills, she will be near the center of her brood, not out on the edges...
    After a bit of experince you will know within a cpl of frames of where she will be.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Fairfax, Vermont
    Posts
    106

    Default

    Thanks for the input and detailed instructions on how to look for the queen. The next time I work the hives, I'll try that approach of reviewing the frames. The bees are Carniolan, so the queen is dark from what I've read online.

    Thanks,
    Michael

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
    Posts
    3,770

    Default

    Don't count on a carni queen being dark. I've had them nearly all black and then again, had them look more like Italians. If you're having trouble finding the queen, stop looking at individual bees and don't have expectations on what a queen should look like. Instead, look at groups of bees. I usually find a queen based on activity. If she's moving...others are moving with her. If she's stopped, others are gathered around her. I'm still amazed at how many wonderfully prolific queens look barely larger than the workers that emerged from her eggs.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Bartonville, TX USA
    Posts
    456

    Default If you can't find the queen

    Look for eggs and larvae. While seeing the queen is exciting if she is laying that is all you need to know.
    "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes"
    Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,142

    Default

    Do You Really Need to Find Her?

    I will preface this that you don't have to find the queen every time you look in the hive. If there is open brood then there was a queen at least a few days ago. But there are situations where you really need to find the queen. Requeening being the most likely. So here are a few tips.
    Use Minimal Smoke

    First, don't smoke them very much, if at all, or the queen will run and there is no telling where she will be.
    Look for the Most Bees

    The queen is usually on the frame of the brood chamber that has the most bees. This isn't always true, but if you start on that frame and work your way from there you will find her either on that frame or the next 90% of the time.
    Calm Bees

    The bees are calmer near the queen.
    Larger and Longer

    Of course the obvious thing is that the queen is larger, and especially that her abdomen is longer, but that isn't always easy to see when there are bees climbing all over her. Look for the larger "shoulders" The width of her back, that little bare patch on the thorax. These are all larger and often you get a peek at them under the other bees. Also the longer abdomen sticking out sometimes when you can't see the rest of her.
    Don't count on her being marked

    Don't count on your marked queen still being there and being marked. Remember they may have swarmed and you didn't catch it or they may have superseded and she may be gone.
    Bees around the queen act differently

    Look at how the bees act around the queen. Often there are several, not all, but several bees facing her. The bees around the queen act different. If you watch them every time you find a queen you'll start noticing how they act, and how they move different around her.
    The Queen Moves Differently

    Other bees are either moving quickly or just hanging and not moving. The workers move like they're listening to Aerosmith. The queen moves like she's listening to Schubert or Brahms. She moves slowly and gracefully. It's like she's waltzing and the workers are doing the bossanova. Next time you spot the queen notice how the bees in general move, how the bees around her move and how she moves.
    Different Coloring

    Usually the queen is slightly different color. I have not found this helpful because she's also usually close enough in color that she's still hard to spot by this.
    Believe There is a Queen

    Also, mental attitude makes a difference when trying to find anything from your car keys to hunting deer to finding a queen. As long as you are doing cursory looks thinking it won't be there you won't find it. You have to believe that the keys, or the deer or the queen IS there. That you are looking right at it and you just have to see it. And then suddenly you do. You have to convince yourself that it is there and convince yourself that you will find it. I don't know how to explain it well enough, but you have to learn to think like that.
    Practice

    Of course the best solution to learning to find a queen is an observation hive. You can find one every morning when you get up, every evening when you get home, and every night before you go to bed and not disrupt them at all. It still doesn't give you the practice at finding the right frame on the first try or two, but does help you with spotting her. Having the queen marked in the observation hive is nice for showing the queen to visitors, but NOT having her marked works better for practicing finding the queen. Even if you buy all your queens marked you will often be finding an unmarked supersedure queen.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Fairfax, Vermont
    Posts
    106

    Default Queen

    The reason for my interest for finding the queen is becuase they are newly installed nucs from Betterbee. I was trying to make sure she was there in both nucs.

    One nuc hive is much stronger than the other. During initial inspection of the weekest nuc, I noticed there weren't many cells with newly laid eggs. I wasn't sure if this was becuase there weren't enough free cells open, or if the queen was gone. This of course is being compared to the other strong nuc that had quite a bit of newly laid eggs.

    Thanks for everyone's input, it's very helpful.

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