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  1. #1
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    Apr 2010
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    Merryville, Louisiana
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    Default How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Is there an easy way to figure out if a hive has a queen or not ? I know that if you see eggs, etc., but it could also be a worker laying eggs.

    My question is; will the bees still bring in pollen and nectar if no queen is present in the hive ? I am still not good at spotting a queen and/or eggs with my old eyes.

    Thanks and all the best,

    casper_zip

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA
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    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Bees will still forage pollen even if they're queenless, so that's not really a good indicator.
    ...This, and my heart, and all the Bees
    Which in the Clover dwell.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
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    819

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Take a caged queen, put her on top of frames and watch bees go nuts balling cage if they already have a queen. Can't find video but I think Mike Palmer did a demo of it.
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Palermo, Maine, USA
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    731

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Will they react the same way if laying workers are present?
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 05-24-2011 at 02:34 PM. Reason: UNQ
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Mt.Laurel, NJ USA
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    102

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    if the girls seem more agitated than ever, also when you open up a hive and alot of buzzing going on, louder than usual, then you have a queenless hive has been my experience, whether it is true or not that i do not know

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Lee\'s Summit, MO
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    1,300

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    I drop a frame of eggs in there. Within a day you'll see queen cells beginning by enlarging the opening of cell.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Lyons, CO
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    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Laying workers will lay several eggs per cell, and there may be very spotty brood of all drones. If your colony is in such bad shape that you're on pins and needles trying to decide whether you have laying workers vs. a totally useless queen, the distinction isn't important IMO. If it's an issue of visual acuity, can you see the brood pattern? If there's a reasonable brood pattern, you're probably OK. You just have a longer lead time than someone who can see eggs on when you last had a laying queen.

    And it's often said that a colony foraging pollen is queenright and rearing brood, but that's not an absolute in my experience. If you see heavy foraging combined with robust pollen baskets, the colony is likely OK. But I've seen failing colonies foraging pollen in modest to small amounts, so as a binary test it's not reliable.

    I'd learn to sense the colony's mood: sound, headbutts, but especially sound. Queenless colonies are grumpier and you can often pick it up by ear right as you enter the apiary, and even more so on working the colony.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    East Windsor, CT
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    276

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    A colony with a queen, even a virgin will almost always leave an area prepared and empty as a future broodnest. So if you see an area where there should be brood but you just see empty cells then there should be a queen. If the bees are putting nectar and pollen all over the place, could be an indication of a queenless hive.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Littlerock, California, USA
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    940

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Casper,
    I also have trouble finding the queen often. Even if she is marked. As Ben has indicated,you should be able to observe a good brood pattern weather it is capped, uncapped, larva or eggs. Hopefully all of the aforementioned. That's what I look for.
    “Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not yet the end”

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,076

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Quote Originally Posted by D Coates View Post
    I drop a frame of eggs in there. Within a day you'll see queen cells beginning by enlarging the opening of cell.


    Not only does this tell you if the hive is queenless, but it will help to prevent them from developing a laying worker and get them started on making a new queen if that's what you want.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Merryville, Louisiana
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    178

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Hey everybody:

    Thanks for all the info/comments. I put this package into my hive May 23, 2011. These are the most gentle bees I have ever seen, worked, etc. It's like they are tame. Reason I asked the original question, when I examined the queen cage, all were dead but one bee. The queen was supposed to be marked, but I did not find a marked bee. I opened up the cage, and one live bee raced out. I could not get a good look, either. I examined the dead bees very careful. no queen in them, either live or dead.

    I am now baffled, they are still gentle as lambs, and bringing in pollen, and worker bees steady coming and going. I was afraid not to help them, so I added a top empty box and placed sugar syrup for them, also a protein pollen patty from Mann Lake. Reason for the patty, none of my hives are bringing in huge amounts of pollen, and I have some very strong hives. I watched them yesterday, and they were really eating the patties, and also sucking up they syrup.

    Am I doing the right thing ? I really love my bees, and want the very best for them, I am retired, and really enjoy them. Yall help me out on this if you can. I have so much to learn, and so little time.

    Best,

    casper_zip

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
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    306

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Casper-Zip,

    I grew up down the road in DeRidder. Hope all is well down there. I'm very new, too, but have been experiencing a queen-less state with my new top bar hive. Mine never stopped bringing in pollen. The original queen did lay a god bit before she went MIA so they made a few Q-cells. They were very grumpy at first when it happened, but by the time the Q-cells were capped, they calmed down as if they knew the problem was being solved.

    It's been two weeks since I saw the capped Queen cells, and checked them again for the first time yesterday. No eggs yet, but they were leaving open areas in the middle of the combs, so I hope that's a sign of good things coming.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,136

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    >Is there an easy way to figure out if a hive has a queen or not ? I know that if you see eggs, etc., but it could also be a worker laying eggs.

    Very easy.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beespanacea.htm

    There are few solutions as universal in their application and their success than adding a frame of open brood every week for three weeks. It is a virtual panacea for any queen issues. It gives the bees the pheromones to suppress laying workers. It gives them more workers coming in during a period where there is no laying queen. It does not interfere if there is a virgin queen. It gives them the resources to rear a queen. It is virtually foolproof and does not require finding a queen or seeing eggs. If you have any issue with queenrightness, no brood, worried that there is no queen, this is the simple solution that requires no worrying, no waiting, no hoping. You just give them what they need to resolve the situation. If you have any doubts about the queenrightness of a hive, give them some open brood and sleep well. Repeat once a week for two more weeks if you still aren't sure. By then things will be fine.

    If you are afraid of transferring the queen from the queenright hive, because you are not good at finding queens, then shake or brush all the bees off before you give it to them.

    If you are concerned about taking eggs from another new package or small colony, keep in mind that bees have little invested in eggs and the queen can lay far more eggs than a small colony can warm, feed and raise. Taking a frame of eggs from a small struggling new hive and swapping it for an empty comb or any drawn comb will have little impact on the donor colony and may save the recipient if they are indeed queenless. If the recipient didn't need a queen it will fill in the gap while the new queen gets mated and not interfere with things.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
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    819

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Someone found the Mike Palmer video on how to check if a hive is queenless or not.

    Here it is: http://www.vimeo.com/21327364
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,388

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    My queenless hive was extremely tame too. Threw me off. Still not sure the queen they made has survived, as they are still filling everything with pollen and nectar. I'm giving them another week or so, then I will give them more brood if I can't find any signs of improvement.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Colorado Springs co
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Hi I too hav ebeen having trouble spotting my queen but Sunday I actually saw a young bee coming out of a cell. The real concern I have now is on the upper 2/3rds of a frame I saw 2 queen cells. Are they going to Swarm???

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    [/QUOTE]The real concern I have now is on the upper 2/3rds of a frame I saw 2 queen cells. Are they going to Swarm???[/QUOTE]

    From what I've read, those are supersedure cells. The book said swarm cells are located along the bottom third of the frames.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    941

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Casper, sounds like you could use a good mentor to look over your shoulder. Are there any bee clubs close by you could hook up with?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Radford, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    290

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    I had a tiny swarm that happily foraged for about 4 weeks with nothing but a vial of bee lure inside. Got them home, took out the lure, replaced it with a frame of fresh brood, and we're now expecting a lovely little queen to emerge any day now.

    Once the bees get to foraging age, I don't think anything stops them short of death. Hopelessly queenless colonies die out because there's no way to replace the workers.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lagrange CO., IN,USA
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: How to figure out a queenless hive the easy way

    Trying this method out today. Got two packages in early april. One has capped brood now the other only pollen and honey with some multiple egg cells i found on a frame near the bottom. Don't seem to be louder than the good hive. Didn't see either queen when i inspected. i took the open brood frame and put it in the suspect hive and added an empty drawn frame back to the donor hive.
    shook the bees off for the most part. Am getting one more package in a week . thinking about checking to see if its queenright with the caged queen when i pick that one up. Think they were robbing out a wild dieout in my front yard so im hoping they just filled up to much space with honey before she started laying. suggestions welcome.

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