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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    I had a nice plump laying queen, I gently placed her into my clear plastic queen marking tube, then pushed the foam insert plunger until she was gently trapped against the plastic mesh in a way that would allow me to place a dab of paint on her thorax. I've done this more than a hundred times now, without a single incident. This time when I released the plunger and the pressure holding the queen immobile was gone, the queen just lay their twitching, her abdomen was spasming and an egg was ejected from the tip of her abdomen. The abdominal twitching continued and every other part of her body appeared paralyzed. Her legs were not moving and neither was her head. I was afraid that she was a goner.

    I don't like to give up easily, so I placed her on a frame of her brood and nurse bees. They quickly went to her aid, I saw one look like it was feeding her, and they all were giving her a great deal of attention. I carefully placed that comb against the adjacent comb (hoping that would help keep the queen from falling from the comb), and carefully closed the hive.

    I checked them the next morning (that was this morning) and discovered that she had fully recovered and was busy laying eggs. Time will tell if she is disabled in a less than obvious manner (such as being rendered infertile), or having her vitality or life shortened.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Gardiner, WA, USA
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Could it have been volatile vapors from the marking paint? But I'm glad That apparently she will be okay. I do have ask what type of paint were you using, just curious.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    I use cheap sparkly finger nail polish, of course this year is a shade of blue. It has quite strong fumes. Though it hadn't seemed to bother any other queens, the conditions may have been different, and she got a stronger dose of the fumes or was just more sensitive to them than the earlier queens. Thanks for the fume idea, I think it has a strong possibility of being the cause of this issue.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,876

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    It's happened to me Joseph, more than once. It's especially happened in hot weather. I don't use the plunger, I just grab the queen by wings with right hand, place her on comb, then gently hold thorax with left hand to free the right, and then mark her with one of those water based pens. On a few occasions, in hot weather as I remember, in strong hives, the queens would, like, feint or something. It scared me but what could I do? I put them in the hives and like you, the next day they were fine. These were queens I was marking for someone else so I was quite worried, but they came out fine but I never heard any more so don't know longevity of the queens.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Typically speaking, lacquer paints have some pretty volatile chemicals. Nail polish, especially the "quick drying" stuff, is what painter-types call "hot" because of fumes given off as the paint dries quickly.

    Enamels, on the other hand, are slower to dry, but are less volatile. Testors brand model paint is an enamel.

    And, yes, they DO make enamel nail polish. They are a little hard to find, though. I did pick up a bottle of it in the past, but never used it as it smelled "hot" to me. I'll just stick to Testors in the squarish bottle, though I've heard a lot of good things about Posera brand paint pens from fellow bee club members.

    DS

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Huntington, West Virginia, USA
    Posts
    438

    Big Grin Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    I've had this happen several times. She has always recovered.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,782

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenre...lified.htm#c25

    "The Question of Cataleptic Queens.
    "In handling queens, many beekeepers have observed that once in a great while a queen suddenly becomes unconscious and sometimes dies. The reason assigned is that she took a cramp or had a cataleptic fit.

    "The author has observed this for the past twenty years. Some seasons it would occur but once; during others half a dozen times or more. In my mind there has always been some doubts whether or not the queen was cataleptic. One season, the loss was heavier than usual. One day two were lost. I say "lost" as the queens were always discarded after having a "fit," for previous experience had made me believe that they were permanently injured by having these "spells."

    "The day the two queens were lost, I observed how very similar was the action of the injured queen to the one that had been stung by another queen. There was a sudden collapse, then a slight quivering of the legs. In one case this lasted for over half an hour, when the queen slowly revived. In the other case, the queen quivered four about the same length of time and then died. It seemed certain to me that in some mysterious manner these queens were getting poison from a sting. Could it be that the poison on my fingers from worker-stings was causing the mischief? Investigation failed to substantiate this. I noticed that in one case the queen had taken hold of the top of her abdomen with a front foot, which might indicate that she had received a slight prick in the foot from her own sting. I therefore watched carefully and soon this belief was confirmed. The queen in taking hold of the tip of her abdomen exposed the sting. Then, in trying to get hold with the rest of her feet, she would strike right at the point of the sting. In this manner she undoubtedly received some of the poison. Since that time we have taken great care that a queen is not allowed to take hold of the tip of her abdomen, consequently no more queens have been afflicted with fainting spells."--Jay Smith, Queen Rearing Simplified
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Berkeley,California, USA
    Posts
    483

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenre...lified.htm#c25

    "The Question of Cataleptic Queens.
    "In handling queens, many beekeepers have observed that once in a great while a queen suddenly becomes unconscious and sometimes dies...

    It seemed certain to me that in some mysterious manner these queens were getting poison from a sting...

    The queen in taking hold of the tip of her abdomen exposed the sting. Then, in trying to get hold with the rest of her feet, she would strike right at the point of the sting. In this manner she undoubtedly received some of the poison. Since that time we have taken great care that a queen is not allowed to take hold of the tip of her abdomen, consequently no more queens have been afflicted with fainting spells."--Jay Smith, Queen Rearing Simplified
    Thanks you Michael - very interesting. I have never experieced this in the 10 queens I have marked, but just so I understand correctly, can a queen kill herself from her own sting or will she always recover if given enough time?

    How do you mark your queens, Michael? Using the plunger, holding them by hand, or in some other way? Haveyou ever experienced this fainting behavior?

    -fafrd

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,782

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    I usually use a queen muff and a plunger because I've had too many fly. But sometimes I just catch them and mark them with my fingers. The feral survivors seem much more prone to fly than the Italians and Buckfasts I used to have. I don't know that Jay Smith is correct. Yes I've had them faint. They usually recover.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Manitoba, Canada, North of the 50th Parallel
    Posts
    218

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    many beekeepers have observed that once in a great while a queen suddenly becomes unconscious and sometimes dies.
    I had this happen to me a few days ago, although it's a very rare experience. I've only seen it twice in my queen rearing "career". :P. One time the queen died, the other time she recovered and seemed ok.
    Happiness comes from within

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Madison County, Alabama
    Posts
    487

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Mike Palmer explained this to me and it makes sense. Sometimes if the abdomen is inadvertently touched too aggressively, the queen will faint. Since my sabbatical to Vermont this spring, I never use a queen muff nor a marking tube anymore. Mike taught me how to grab a queen by the wings then gently cradle her between my index finger and thumb, and make a "floor" with the side of the tip of my middle finger. Grab the queen by the wings in the right hand, if you're right handed, then cradle her in the index finger and thumb of your left hand. This now frees your right hand to use your marking instrument. To return the queen to the hive, grab her by the wings again with your right hand, then set her down on a top bar, so that her legs grip the surface, BEFORE letting her wings go. She will then slither down between the frames like a sleuth crocodile going into a sewer! That's the imagery I conjure when I see her going down inside the hive to escape the beekeeper.
    "...the most populous colonies ...are provided by queens ...in the year following their birth." Brother Adam

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Lindley, NY,USA
    Posts
    194

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by fatscher View Post
    grab a queen by the wings then gently cradle her between my index finger and thumb, and make a "floor" with the side of the tip of my middle finger.
    I'm with you so far.. what is the preferred direction for her to be facing at this point? In toward the palm or away into space? Palm would seem safer.
    I've only lost one to flight this year but injured ones is unknown
    Fred

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
    Posts
    1,830

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Joseph- Any update on the queen? Sounds interesting

    Kingfisher

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,415

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    A friend of mine who used to raise queens in Hawaii says tha fainting queens is pretty common. Though I have never seen it happen. But if I do, now i will know not to assume she is dead.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Kingfisher Apiaries,
    I watched her for more than a week, she got real busy and filled her little nuc with brood, I kept removing frames of honey and replacing them with empty comb until there were two frames of honey and three of brood. Nice pattern, too. I then trusted her health enough to sell her with her nuc.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Byrdstown, TN Pickett Co USA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    I have had two that “passed out” and both recovered. I got the impression that I put too much pressure on the Abdomen that was full of eggs causing enough pain that she fainted. By tilting the plunger a bit you can put more pressure on the thorax and relieve some of the pressure on the abdomen. cdowdy.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Byrdstown, TN Pickett Co USA
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    I have had two that “passed out” and both recovered. I got the impression that I put too much pressure on the Abdomen that was full of eggs causing enough pain that she fainted. By tilting the plunger a bit you can put more pressure on the thorax and relieve some of the pressure on the abdomen. I do believe that water base paint would be the best type of paint to use tho. cdowdy.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Radford, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    290

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    At queen rearing class today, the discussion turned to insemination, and we were told that the virgin must be knocked out for the insemination itself, and then again afterwards. I immediately thought of this post.

    Meanwhile, my husband is laughing hysterically about roofies and the world's smallest turkey baster.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    the queen just lay their twitching, her abdomen was spasming and an egg was ejected from the tip of her abdomen. The abdominal twitching continued and every other part of her body appeared paralyzed. Her legs were not moving and neither was her head. I was afraid that she was a goner. I placed her on a frame of her brood and nurse bees. They quickly went to her aid, I saw one look like it was feeding her, and they all were giving her a great deal of attention. I carefully placed that comb against the adjacent comb (hoping that would help keep the queen from falling from the comb), and carefully closed the hive.
    Today I went through a hive late (around 7 pm) and picked up a frame when I heard THUMP... and there was the queen landing on the mite board tray that was sticking out. Utterly confused I picked her up and wondered what the heck had happened. She seemed stone cold passed out... but she seemed fresh and warm (unlike a dead queen I found once in a hive) so I thought maybe she will be OK. I did exactly what this poster did, put her on a frame and the bees did exactly as you describe. After abut 10 minutes she seemed OK- got up slowly and eventually moved on down into the hive off of the frame.

    Let's hope so... this is one of my favorite hives (I call her Miss Vermont as she is now a granddaughter queen from a French Hill Apiary queen) and this is not a great time in Virginia to be raising a queen.

    Have others seen this other than marking? I guess it is possible I squeezed or or did something while taking the frame out.
    karla

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    781

    Default Re: Queen bee "narcolepsy"?

    Quote Originally Posted by winevines View Post
    Today I went through a hive late (around 7 pm) and picked up a frame when I heard THUMP... and there was the queen landing on the mite board tray that was sticking out. Utterly confused I picked her up and wondered what the heck had happened. She seemed stone cold passed out... but she seemed fresh and warm (unlike a dead queen I found once in a hive) so I thought maybe she will be OK. I did exactly what this poster did, put her on a frame and the bees did exactly as you describe. After abut 10 minutes she seemed OK- got up slowly and eventually moved on down into the hive off of the frame. .
    I had to update this. She did fine after fainting for a few weeks. Was superseded sometime in October (honest!) and so far appears to have nice brood laid.. looked again today. The hive is low on stores so we'll see. Reduced the hive to a 10 frame nuc for winter.
    karla

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